In South Louisiana we all know that June through October is hurricane season, and we prepare to experience disastrous weather. After a major disaster strikes, approximately 40% of businesses never reopen. To be able to open after an emergency, proper planning is key! In this post our HR Business Partner, Germaine Townsend, explains how businesses can be prepared for any emergency.
What Does My Emergency Plan Need To Include?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an emergency in the workplace is defined as any event which “threatens workers, customers, or the public; disrupts or shuts down operations; or causes physical or environmental damage.” Many events could meet that criteria. Businesses should have a plan for things like fires, major structural failures, chemical spills, loss of electrical power, and crime or terrorism.
Different types of disasters or emergencies will require differing responses however, businesses should have a core emergency action plan that is clear and easy to follow. We’ve already covered what a hurricane preparedness plan looks like for businesses, but every emergency plan should at least include the following:
Any emergency plan should include the following:
Contact details for management, as well as an emergency call tree if that is a good communication process for your team. Include how upper management plans on communicating with the team during an emergency.
Evacuation route maps and emergency phone numbers for local fire department, police, paramedics, etc.
Details for office closure. Explain what circumstances would result in an office closure and for how long your employees should expect the office to be closed.
Information on if and how employees will be paid during the closure.
Your remote-work policy, and how employees should handle work requirements, including safe handling of company data, during an office closure.
It’s Time For Your Yearly Check-Up!
Every business should update their emergency preparedness plan annually, at a minimum. For businesses that are impacted by hurricanes, May and June is the best time to take a look at your emergency plan!
However, a yearly check-up is really the minimum. Germaine says “I recommend it be reviewed every 6 months because the plan includes contacts for disaster resources, company personnel and other data that tend to change over time.”
Before Emergencies Happen, Communication Is Key
All of your employees should know your emergency plan. When onboarding new employees, the plan should be included in your discussions, as well as making it part of your ongoing conversations with employees. It’s important for employees to know how to react if an emergency happens by talking about it regularly and practicing in-office responses. “Conducting mock drills like evacuations and shelter in place will help employees understand the procedures involved in the event an emergency arises,” Germaine says.
How Is HR Involved In Disaster Management?
HR plays a big role when disasters occur. Germaine says that your HR partner should make sure that “all employees have been adequately trained for emergencies and know their roles and responsibilities should an emergency arise.” It’s also up to HR to make sure that there is a communication plan in place that includes all employees phone numbers, as well as their emergency contacts. From there it’s up to HR to ensure that the communication plan is utilized effectively during an emergency to keep everyone on the same page.
Your HR department may benefit from utilizing automated communication to decrease human error during emergencies. “Deploying automated text messaging that alerts employees of the emergency is a great tool to keep everyone in the loop,” explains Germaine.
Emergency planning can be daunting, but when a solid plan is in place, your team will be far better off! At HR NOLA, we help many businesses create and maintain emergency preparedness plans. We help to make sure that the business you’ve worked so hard to build can continue to thrive for years to come. Contact us today to set up a consultation to find out how HR can boost your business!