The following blog is from Safety Services Company, who provide a variety of safety related products, including first aid kits, and a number of safety training kits.
Protecting Your Workplace from Disaster During a Natural Disaster
We’ve seen in recent years that natural disasters aren’t selective about where they’re going to strike. No region is immune to a natural disaster. The repercussions of a natural disaster can be extremely costly, especially when it comes to a business. Preparing your workplace against the worst is the best way to minimize the damage, so we’ve put together some ways you and your colleagues can be ready.
The great majority of injuries during a natural disaster occur when a person is crushed or struck by a moving object. That said, you’ll want to conduct a hazard assessment of your workplace to identify probably sources of injury. That tall shelving unit with the file boxes stacked high? The heavy light fixture hanging from the ceiling? The copy machine mounted on a free-rolling cart? If and when a natural disaster strikes, these things are injuries waiting to happen. Investigate your workplace and look for things like:
- Unsecured furniture
- Overhead vents and air conditioners
- Work stations located near windows
- Heavy wall furniture and décor
- Tall shelving
After the assessment, you’ll want to address each of the hazards and neutralize them as necessary. Wall anchors, removing wheels from furniture, and stocking items on lower shelves are some ideas you can incorporate.
Supplies and First Aid
Assuming the worst happens, there may be a need for survival provisions. It’s recommended that you have available at least one gallon of water per employee per day. Include other supplies, such as flashlights, emergency blankets, cell phones, battery-powered radios, and first aid kits. It’s better to be fully-stocked ahead of time than to find that you’re in the middle of the worst-case scenario and missing something vital.
Encourage all employees, not just a safety team, to undergo first aid training. It’s important that as many employees as possible know how to respond to an emergency and administer first aid. If only a select few are trained, what would you do should those select few be injured? Training in first aid practice as well as the knowledge and use of first aid kit contents is useful for everyone and can easily mean the difference between life and death during an emergency.
Any planning you do is useless if you and your colleagues are unable to properly respond on a dime. Set up emergency drills in your workplace. Before setting up the drills, make sure everyone knows:
- What the emergency alarm sounds like
- Where to locate emergency exits
- Where to locate and how to operate fire extinguishers
- Where to locate first aid supplies
- Where and how to take cover
- How to evacuate and where to meet
Drills should include procedures involving assembly after the evacuation and roll call. You may want to designate a team of employees to head up and orchestrate the evacuation. Take some time after each drill to identify any discrepancies or errors in the plan.
Keeping the Business Running
Beyond the potential for structural damage to your workplace, you’ll need to prepare against losses in business.
Start by ensuring that your business runs from a backup to an off-site server. Keeping important documents, systems and information stored onsite is just asking for them to be taken out when a disaster strikes. Backing it up elsewhere will allow you to work from a home office or mobile device. Discuss the notion of creating a home office with your coworkers; the more people you have prepared to continue work outside of a recovering office, the better.
Try to be as paperless as possible. Scanning and filing away documents and accounting digitally will not only decrease overhead supply costs and environmental footprints, but digital copies can’t burn or be swept away or lost in a flood. Also consider having business lines forwarded to home or cellular phones after a disaster. Of course don’t underestimate the power of e-mail. E-mail is not only a great way to archive correspondence, but it can be accessed from most anywhere and allow you to maintain communication with business clients when other methods, such as local cellular towers, may be down.
Backup generators can be a great way to continue business, at least to wrap up the work day, if the repercussions from the natural disaster are limited to something as basic as a power outage. They are available in a wide variety of voltage, allowing you to prioritize essential workplace functions. Keep in mind that generators are run on gas and should never be run indoors.