Preparing for a Natural Disaster at Your Workplace

workplace preparation natural disaster place of employment

Last year the global damage costs of natural disaster amounted to $137.77 billion. These natural disasters include drought, floods, extreme weather, extreme temperature, landslides, dry mass movements, wildfires, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. 

A natural disaster doesn't have to be on the level of the 2004 Thailand tsunami to cost your business money. 

Natural disasters strike unexpectedly and have devastating consequences on employees and business. It's important to know how to respond should it strike in your place of employment.

Failing to Prepare Is Preparing to Fail 

The thing about natural disasters is that they're unpredictable, they can strike at any moment, anywhere. There's no telling whether they'll hit your home or your business the hardest, you need to be prepared. 

Hurricanes to flash floods and forest fires can cause immeasurable damage to your place of employment. 

The best way to be prepared is to know that there are certain laws to adhere to as a business, unlike a home evacuation plan. Certain businesses will have guidelines that need to be followed. 

Clear Communication Channels 

Having an existing emergency plan in place is paramount to the safety of your place of employment. Having said this, communicating your emergency plan to employees within your organization is essential. 

You can't afford to have total chaos should a natural disaster strike. 

Make sure that you have regular discussions around your natural disaster emergency plan. Ensure that employees that have certain roles to play during these disasters are aware of needs to be done, and for those that don't have a special role, ensure that they're aware of the evacuation plans, emergency exits, and procedures and other important information. 

It's even a good idea to hold practice drills regularly so the people in your place of employment are well practiced on what to do when disaster strikes. 

Assess Your Place of Employment and Other Hazards

Ensure that your emergency plan is tailor-made for your office or premises. 

Each business premises and location is different, the exits are in different positions and emergency kits are kept in different locations. Your building may have a tornado room, a safe room or perhaps even rooms that need to be steered clear of. 

Make sure that your employees are fully aware of these areas, whether they need to avoid them or if these places are where they are meant to head in the event of a natural disaster. 

Aside from the actual building that your place of employment is in, assess your geographical location. Knowing your surroundings and what natural disasters are likely to pose a threat could be life-saving for you and your employees. 

For example, if your business is based in Florida you should be well aware that it is one of the most likely states to suffer from the effects of a hurricane, so you'd need to be well prepared for this type of natural disaster. Of the 36 hurricanes recorded in the U.S. from 1995 to 2017, 11 have directly hit Florida, making it the state with the most direct hits from hurricanes in the United States. 

Create Your Emergency Plan 

Being aware of the potential natural disaster threats that your workplace faces is the first step to creating an emergency plan to protect your business and coworkers. 

Your first priority is to protect the workers, make sure that the plan includes what to do during the natural disaster and afterward. 

Once you're through the first hit of a natural disaster, your plan should focus on the continuation of your business after the storm has passed. Communication and resources will most likely be limited following the disaster, ensure that all employees are aware of the priorities following a disaster, and who is responsible for which jobs. 

There are many laws governing post-natural disaster work, make sure that you're aware of the legal processes following a disaster. Who is liable for taking a leave of absence and under what circumstances. 

Depending on your employees, what status they are, if they're permanently employed and many more factors. Make sure you're also clued up on the payment of employees after a natural disaster and ensure that this is kept in your business continuation plan in terms of budgeting. 

Stock Your Emergency Kit

Emergency and survival kits can literally mean the difference between life and death. A basic emergency kit will include enough water for each employee, flashlights, non-perishable foods, a first-aid kit, and a battery-powered radio. 

If you're in an area that can suffer at the hands of a larger natural disaster, make sure your place of employment is prepared for employees being cared for if it's a long-term disaster. In this case, you can include emergency blankets, maps, prescription medications, and even additional cellphones. 

Consider even stocking a tool kit, personal hygiene items and additional batteries in your emergency kit. 

Remember to check your kit regularly to make sure that nothing has gone past its use-by date, and if it has, make sure you replace these items as and when is needed. 

Safety equipment should also be checked regularly, items like fire extinguishers should also be checked and replaced in case a natural disaster strikes. 

Post Natural Disaster Planning 

Once the storm has passed, you need to have a plan in place for returning to your place of employment. 

Firstly, secure insurance that protects your company and your assets, as well as a loss of income in the event of a natural disaster. 

Keep a full, updated list of employees, customers, and suppliers to consult in the event of loss of technical hardware. 

Consider having a second location as a backup for operations for a few weeks after the natural disaster strikes. And ensure that all your internal data and apps are stored in the cloud so that you can gain access virtually straight away, even from a secondary location. 

Always Stay Prepared

Now that you know how to prepare for a natural disaster, ensure that you stay prepared always. It may become frustrating to regularly hold practice drills or to send out a natural disaster emergency plan if nothing has ever happened. 

But you, as a frugal business owner, cannot afford to be unprepared. 

It's impossible to know the details of what will happen, and when a natural disaster might strike. But taking care of your employees and your place of employment in the event of one is the top priority. 

Hopefully, by following our tips, and having these plans in place, your workplace can return to normalcy as soon as possible.

Keep reading our blog for more tips on workplace safety.

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