September is National Preparedness Month
“Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”
Lacking the traditional exclamation point urgency of most Public Service Announcement posters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) National Preparedness Month campaign mirrors the attitude it wants to invoke. Calm, rational preparation is the only way to keep people safe during an unexpected emergency or disaster situation.
Waiting until the last minute only invites stress and split-second decisions that gamble the lives and well-being of anyone involved. Yet, FEMA and associated participants like the CDC and OSHA do not shout or elicit fear. Instead, they coolly advocate: “Do the right thing, and do it soon.”
Workplaces should take this recommendation to heart and use the remaining days of September to spread awareness and discussion over emergency and disaster preparedness. Being organized and prepared saves lives and brings order even to the midst of chaos.
How Businesses Can Prepare During Preparedness Month
On an individual level, FEMA and the CDC recommend the natural steps to prepare for a disaster:
- Build an emergency supply kit
- Create an evacuation or rescue plan for emergencies, such as a hurricane
- Research different likely emergency scenarios
Families and households can take these steps to ensure that their lives are not interrupted in the event of an emergency, but what about businesses? FEMA and OSHA jointly recommend that businesses take additional steps beyond ensuring the immediate safety of their employees in order to prepare for moving ahead following a disaster.
- Create a preparedness program with a dedicated team and objective measurement criteria
- Gather information about potential hazards and assess risks
- Use your research to determine a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
- Explore methods for preventing additional hazards and reducing risks
- Create a plan that allows for your business to continue as soon as possible following a disaster
- Invest in methods to soften the blow disasters inflict upon your business with preparedness funds and the right type of insurance to protect against excess risk
- Rigorously train employees on the emergency plan and the methods used to reduce further risk
- Test your plan with various drills and exercises
- Periodically re-evaluate your plan to identify potential improvements
Creating a BIA
As you can see, the biggest difference between preparedness for the individual household and businesses is that businesses must determine how a disaster could affect their day-to-day operations. A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is a comprehensive approach to determining what conditions would force closure or hinder operations on an extended basis.
Businesses that perform and create a BIA will have a more full understanding of what happens after an emergency and how it will affect their typical operations. For the construction industry, a BIA will take into account how job work will be halted. Additionally, materials and in-progress tasks may have been destroyed during the disaster. Contracting businesses must prepare procedures in advance for calculating losses, replacing damaged goods and adjusting the schedule based on the BIA.
These steps are invaluable for contracting businesses because they help teams move forward with less questions left in the air following a disaster. The comprehensive nature of a BIA also helps spread the definition of a “disaster” beyond something that affects the general public. For instance, a structural collapse on the job could cost many thousands of dollars in lost materials and ruined labor in addition to the immediate safety risks. Contracting businesses must anticipate these scenarios and craft a robust plan to reduce risks while avoiding further hazards.
Work with a professional risk assessment program such as those available from commercial contracting insurers to gain 360° insight and preparedness for nearly any setback. The National Preparedness Month of September is a great time to start, but keep the efforts going all year to persevere even when conditions are at their worst.