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Focus on Safety During National Preparedness Month

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

National Preparedness Month

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.

  1. Create a preparedness program with a dedicated team and objective measurement criteria
  2. Gather information about potential hazards and assess risks
  3. Use your research to determine a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
  4. Explore methods for preventing additional hazards and reducing risks
  5. Create a plan that allows for your business to continue as soon as possible following a disaster
  6. 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
  7. Rigorously train employees on the emergency plan and the methods used to reduce further risk
  8. Test your plan with various drills and exercises
  9. 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.



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How to Help Keep Your Commercial Drivers Safe

One of the most important jobs in the United States is long-haul trucking. The men and women who perform this job make sure that just about every commercial, chemical, medical and other important good is delivered and available on time. It is also one of the riskiest jobs one can perform.  Here are some tips to help keep your commercial drivers safe on the road.

 

Regular and Thorough Maintenance

Maintaining your fleet of trucks is the most important thing you can do to keep your drivers from having accidents. Be sure there is plenty of tread on the tires, the oil is changed regularly and the brakes are solid and new. Check all of the fluid levels, the mirrors and the horn every day to make sure everything is in good, working order. If anything seems out of sorts, have it thoroughly checked over and repaired before allowing the truck on the road.

 

Proper Loading of Cargo

Cargo that shifts or falls over creates a far greater threat than just the possibility of damaged goods. In fact, cargo that is stacked too high creates drag on the truck, which makes it harder for the driver to steer, and cargo that falls over can actually create conditions which can lead to the truck jack-knifing or tipping over. Take care when loading up your vehicles.

 

Encourage Good Driving Habits

Educate your drivers on safe driving habits and do everything you can to encourage them. Your drivers should always engage in the following activities while on the road:

 

  • Slow down when driving in work zones. Not only does this increase safety, but it can avoid hefty fines.
  • Keep an eye on blind spots. It is all-too-common for truck accidents to occur because the driver did not see a car in a blind spot.
  • Slow down on curves. Even if your drivers religiously follow the speed limit, their rigs are harder to control than cars. Dipping below the limit on curves keeps things steady and safe.
  • Take care in inclement weather. Slow down and allow plenty of space for stopping and maneuvering. This is true whether the roads or icy or simply wet. If the situation gets too dangerous, pull over. While lateness is not ideal, it is better to be late than to not arrive at all.

 

Encourage Healthy Habits

Keeping your truckers healthy is a good first step in keeping them safe. Encourage them to sleep, eat and exercise right. Hold workshops and competitions that encourage healthy living. The healthier your drivers are, the more awake and alert they will be when behind the wheel. An alert driver has better reflexes and is less likely to fall prey to road rage and bad decisions.

Do you have any other ideas about keeping drivers safe on the road? We would love to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment below!