Every business can experience a serious incident that can prevent it from continuing normal business operations and this can happen at any time. The incidents can range from a flood or explosion to serious computer malfunction, information security disruptions or even a terrorist attack. Management has a responsibility to recover from such incidents in the minimum amount of time possible.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified several key elements to consider for maintaining your business in the case of a serious event.
- A necessary first step is a risk assessment. The assessment can range from a self-assessment to an extensive engineering study. The size and function of your organization will determine your risk assessment needs.
- It is important to know what kinds of emergencies might affect your company both internally and externally. Find out which natural disasters are most common in the areas where you operate.
- Learn about what to do during a biological, chemical, explosive, nuclear or radiological attack.
Continuity of Operations Planning
- Assess how your company functions internally and externally. Determine what staff, materials, procedures and equipment are necessary to keep the business operating
- Identify your suppliers, shippers, resources and other businesses you must interact with on a daily basis.
- Plan what to do if your building is not accessible.
- Plan for payroll continuity.
- Decide who should participate in putting together your emergency plan.
- Define crisis management procedures and individual responsibilities in advance.
- Coordinate with other entities in your building.
- Review your emergency plans annually.
- Two-way communication is critical before, during and after a serious incident. Include emergency preparedness information in newsletters, on company internet, in periodic employee emails and other internal communications tools.
- Consider utilizing a telephone calling tree or a call-in voice recording to communicate with employee in an emergency.
- Designate an out-of-town phone number where employees can leave an "I'm okay" message in catastrophic disaster.
- Provide co-workers with wallet cards detailing instructions on how to get company information in an emergency situation.
- Maintain open communications where co-workers are free to bring questions and concerns to company leadership.
- Ensure you have established staff members who are responsible for communicating regularly to employees.
- Include co-workers with disabilities
- Identify co-workers in the organization with special needs.
- Engage people with disabilities in emergency planning.
- Plan how you will alert people who cannot hear an alarm or instructions.
- Frequently review and practice what you intend to do during and after an emergency with drills and exercises
- Think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. Encourage everyone to have a portable kit customized to meet personal needs such as essential mediations.
- NOAA weather radio
- Keep copies of important records such as site maps, building plans, insurance policies, employee contact and identification information, bank account records, supplier and shipping contact lists, computer backups, emergency or law enforcement contact information and other priority documents in a waterproof, fireproof portable container. Store a second set of records at an off-site location.