Safety Vault Information Service

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently put the U.S. on "ORANGE ALERT" status. Do you know what that means for your business? More importantly, do your employees know what that means? Would they know what to do if your area goes to "RED ALERT", meaning there is eminent danger? Do they show up for work, or not? While it is important for you to know what to do in response to potential terrorism, there are many other, more common, causes of business interruptions for which you should be prepared.

Why bother? Disasters don’t happen here. Really? Consider these unexpected incidents.

No business should risk operating without a disaster plan

In addition to OSHA and EPA jurisdiction issues,* prudent business owners should develop a comprehensive emergency plan. Even if a disaster doesn’t hit your dealership, an overturned chemical tanker truck or nearby flooding, even power outages, brown-outs or surges can disrupt your daily routine. Regardless of the cause, you need a plan to return to "normal operations."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines a disaster or emergency as: Any unplanned event that can cause death or significant injuries to employees, customers or the public; or that can shut down your business, disrupt operations, cause physical or environmental damage or threaten the facility’s financial standing or public image.

What can I do? Effective disaster recovery really begins before the disaster. Find out which natural and technological hazards can happen in your area. While researching potential disasters, one business discovered that a dam—50 miles away—posed a threat to its community. Get information about how to prepare your employees to respond to possible hazards and provide help. Network with surrounding businesses, and consider attending seminars conducted by local risk management associations or chapters. Your insurance company should be another good source of information. No business should risk operating without a disaster plan. While reports vary, as many as 40% of small businesses do not reopen after a major disaster like a flood, tornado or earthquake. These shuttered businesses were unprepared for a disaster; they had no plan or backup systems.

Develop a Plan

When you start to develop your disaster plan, consider your human resources, your physical resources and business continuity. Think about how a disaster could affect your employees, customers and workplace. Think about how you could continue doing business if the area around your facility is closed or streets are impassable. Think about what you would need to serve your customers even if your facility is closed. Start building your plan now. Consider forming a planning team of employees who can share ideas, formulate an action plan, and have authority to implement it. As you evaluate potential emergency situations, review your internal policies, and consult with your local fire and police departments, and involve your accountant and utility companies. Once your plan has been developed, share it! Be sure everyone in your facility knows what to do should an emergency situation arise.

Protect Your People and Your Business

The best way to protect your employees, your customers, and your business is to prepare to respond to an emergency before it happens. Few people can think clearly and logically in a crisis, so it is important to do so in advance, when you have time to be thorough. Putting together a comprehensive emergency action plan that deals with all types of issues specific to your workplace is really not that difficult.

Want more information? Review the Association's FastFacts #2080 for additional tips by Federated Insurance and J. Connor & Associates. Helpful resource links on the internet received from FEMA are also included.

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