Mother Nature seems to have gone crazy this summer. Dozens of wildfires in the west, Hurricane Harvey—and now Hurricane Irma—heading into the Gulf Coast, extreme temperatures and unpredictable weather everywhere. And in addition to crazy weather, there are all kinds of other unexpected events that can throw your workplace into chaos. According to the Insurance Information Institute, as many as 40 percent of businesses forced to suspend operations due to a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen their doors.
Try to imagine the challenges and struggles your business would face in the wake of a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma or the recent fires in Montana and Oregon. It’s scary to even consider. Now here’s something even scarier: A relatively minor fire or flood that forces you to shut down operations carries many of the same challenges as a disaster on the scale of Harvey or Irma. While here in Colorado, we may not worry too much about hurricanes, fires, floods, severe hail and thunderstorms, tornadoes and blizzards are all very real hazards.
Your commercial property insurance policy would help you rebuild your physical infrastructure, but are you equipped to deal with lost revenue and mounting expenses while you work to restore operations? And, have you thought about how you could help to ensure your employees’ well-being during a crisis so they can also continue at their jobs?
Emergency Preparedness at Work
Most emergency preparation information focuses on being prepared at home, or possibly in the car, but since many of us spend eight or more hours a day at our workplaces, it is wise to also prepare for disasters at work.
Consider what might be needed if your employees were unable to leave work for 24 hours or more. A good starting point would be to review the recommendations for a personal 72-hour kit and then adapt it as needed for your office. Here is a 72-hour kit checklist from Roper Insurance to help you get started. You can find additional resources on the American Red Cross website and at Ready.gov.
At the very least, flashlights, a first-aid kit, water, non-perishable food , personal hygiene supplies and blankets should be included.
In addition to emergency supplies, planning ahead is also essential to help your business survive an emergency.
Planning for the worst
The difference between surviving a business interruption and going belly-up often hinges on one factor—preparation.
The best way to prevent a disaster from putting the future of your business at risk is to have a proper continuity plan in place.
Business continuity planning involves:
- Defining potential risks
- Determining how those risks will affect operations
- Implementing safeguards and procedures designed to mitigate those risks
- Testing those procedures to ensure that they work
- Periodically reviewing the process to make sure that it is up to date
Start the process by establishing a planning team tasked with developing the continuity plan. Typical goals of your plan should include:
- Protecting the safety of employees, visitors, contractors and others at risk from hazards at the facility
- Maintaining customer service by minimizing interruptions or disruptions of business operations
- Protecting facilities, physical assets and electronic information
- Preventing environmental contamination
- Protecting your organization’s brand, image and reputation
The planning process should take an “all hazards” approach. The probability that a specific hazard will impact your business is hard to determine—that’s why it’s important to consider many different threats and hazards and the likelihood they will occur. A business impact analysis can predict the consequences of an interruption and give you a good idea of how your operations would be affected in case you were forced to temporarily close.
Implementing the plan means more than simply exercising the plan during an emergency. It means acting on recommendations made during the hazard analysis, integrating the plan into company operations, training employees and evaluating the plan on an ongoing basis.
It is important to conduct a formal audit of the entire plan at least once a year to help identify any factors that may necessitate changes, such as updated regulations or new hazards.
Let us guide you through the process
No business owner wants to think about what would happen to the business if disaster strikes, but it’s a reality that all business owners must face. Roper Insurance & Financial Services realizes it can be a daunting task to plan for a major business interruption—but it doesn’t have to be.
We can help you kick-start your planning efforts with a suite of industry-leading business continuity tools and resources, including a sample plan that can be tailored to meet the unique needs of your business. We can guide you step by step throughout the planning process, from assessing hazards to implementing safeguards to ensuring your plan stays up to date. For more information and continuity planning assistance, email us at [email protected] or call one of our business insurance specialists at 303-721-1145.