Foreseeing floods, fires or other security emergencies may seem like a frivolous concern in the office. And though chances of such problems arising may be slim, it’s still imperative to have a disaster preparedness plan in place.
No one likes to think about what could happen if a tornado hits the office building. It’s certainly difficult to even imagine. But, it’s this type of preparation that could be the difference between saving lives and losing them. The question is, does your office have a disaster preparedness team in place to help create a plan for emergency situations? If not, perhaps it’s time to get one together.
Robby Slaughter, business productivity expert and a principal of AccelaWork, contributes some thoughts on the subject in the article Disaster Planning For Facility Managers. To him, “True employee engagement is more than lip service.”
A disaster plan that is collaboratively developed by your team will help them feel more engaged in your business, and will lead to increased productivity overall.
For those who have been in a disaster situation, you may know the feeling that comes with allowing instinct to take over. But for many of us who have never found ourselves in a major emergency at work, it’s hard to predict just exactly how we’ll act when the time comes. In this case, Slaughter’s thoughts above couldn’t be more true. When it comes right down to it, the best way to feel confident in your own reactive instincts is to know the plan exactly. And what better way to achieve this than becoming a contributor? Encouraging employees to engage in this type of project not only makes them feel involved and satisfied, but it also provides them with a sense of security knowing they helped formulate the steps.
According to Jack Rubinger, author of the article, creating an emergency plan consists of many different parts. Below are areas that should be considered when your disaster preparedness team sits down to discuss components and solidify actions:
Communications: Who is the designated spokesperson? Which customers can talk about how the business continued to serve them throughout the crisis?
Emergency egress: Are exits and evacuation routes clear at all times? Are routes marked with clear wayfinding signage that is visible without light or power?
Supplies: What will be done if employees (or customers) can’t go home? Are there robust first aid and emergency supplies on hand? Are food, water, and blankets available? What about radios, tools, and other disaster supplies, such as crowbars and shovels?
Facility: Are fire extinguishers maintained and accessible? Is the HVAC system secure and capable of filtering potential contaminants? Is it easy to shut off? Is the gas shutoff readily accessible? Do you have a backup generator and enough safely stored fuel for it to be useful? Are pipes and valves prominently marked? Are all hazardous materials properly stored and labeled with NFPA hazard diamond and/or HazCom 2012 labels?
Business continuity plan: When a disaster takes out an entire city or region, many employers go out of business. Planning for contingencies can help keep a business afloat.
For Rubinger, these insights into the benefits of disaster preparedness aren’t just theory. They came out of his experience in Oregon helping his and other businesses in the city avoid being wiped out during a flood.
“While kind of scary, it brought us all together.”
As a company, keeping business afloat and maintaining office safety for employees is a must. So rather than remaining naive, take measures to prevent the inevitable chaos and panic that could arise from unexpected scenarios. Now is the time to be prepared.