While there are warnings for many types of potential disasters, many emergencies and disasters occur without any warning. Since you can’t predict where you will be for disasters, it is important to have plans to address these events. Planning ahead will ensure that you and your staff will know what to do and have the supplies you need to be safe wherever you are.
The preparedness program is built on a foundation of management leadership, commitment and financial support. Without management commitment and financial support, it will be difficult to build the program, maintain resources and keep the program up-to-date.
It is important to invest in a preparedness program. The following are good reasons:
- Up to 40% of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen. (Source: Insurance Information Institute)
- Customers expect delivery of products or services on time. If there is a significant delay, customers may go to a competitor.
- Larger businesses are asking their suppliers about preparedness. They want to be sure that their supply chain is not interrupted. Failure to implement a preparedness program risks losing business to competitors who can demonstrate they have a plan.
- Insurance is only a partial solution. It does not cover all losses and it will not replace customers.
- Many disasters — natural or human-caused — may overwhelm the resources of even the largest public agencies. Or they may not be able to reach every facility in time.
- News travels fast and perceptions often differ from reality. Businesses need to reach out to customers and other stakeholders quickly.
- An Ad Council survey reported that nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents said they do not have an emergency plan in place for their business.
- According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses:
- Represent 99.7% of all employer firms
- Employ about half of all private sector employees
- Have generated 65% of net new jobs over the past 17 years
- Made up 97.5% of all identified exporters.
Easy Access to Evacuation Diagrams
A preparedness policy that is consistent with the mission and vision of the business should be written and disseminated by management. The policy should define roles and responsibilities. It should authorize selected employees to develop the program and keep it current. The policy should also define the goals and objectives of the program. Typical goals of the preparedness program include:
- Protect the safety of employees, visitors, contractors and others at risk from hazards at the facility. Plan for persons with disabilities and functional needs.
- Maintain customer service by minimizing interruptions or disruptions of business operations
- Protect facilities, physical assets and electronic information
- Prevent environmental contamination
- Protect the organization’s brand, image and reputation
Emergency Rapid Response Templates
You should conduct testing and exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of your preparedness program, make sure employees know what to do and find any missing parts. There are many benefits to testing and exercises:
- Train personnel; clarify roles and responsibilities
- Reinforce knowledge of procedures, facilities, systems and equipment
- Improve individual performance as well as organizational coordination and communications
- Evaluate policies, plans, procedures and the knowledge and skills of team members
- Reveal weaknesses and resource gaps
- Comply with local laws, codes and regulations
- Gain recognition for the emergency management and business continuity program
Incident Management Event Log
When an emergency occurs or there is a disruption to the business, organized teams will respond in accordance with established plans. Public emergency services may be called to assist. Contractors may be engaged and other resources may be needed. Inquiries from the news media, the community, employees and their families and local officials may overwhelm telephone lines. How should a business manage all of these activities and resources? Businesses need an incident management system (IMS). An IMS is “the combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures and communications operating within a common organizational structure, designed to aid in the management of resources during incidents” .
Critical Messaging and Group Notifications
The actions taken in the initial minutes of an emergency are critical. A prompt warning to employees to evacuate, shelter or lock down can save lives. These automatic notifications in case of an emergency provide full and accurate information will help the coordinator send the right responder and equipment. An employee trained to administer first aid or perform CPR can be lifesaving. Action by employees with knowledge of building and process systems can help control a leak and minimize damage to the facility and the environment.