This week, May 3 to 9, 2015 is Emergency Preparedness Week and this is an excellent time for us to look around our workplaces and see if there is anything that we need to do to be prepared for an emergency. In fact, recent tragic events in Nepal also bring the need for emergency preparedness to mind.
It is really easy to think that we don’t have to worry about this. Our buildings are strong; there isn’t much that can take them down. Or perhaps it is the belief, for those of us on Vancouver Island, that “when the big one hits, we are going to sink anyway” so no need to be prepared. This kind of thinking is exactly what causes people to end up in crisis if something disastrous happens and help is needed.
For those of us who own businesses and have people on our premises, we have a responsibility to protect those people with some simple tips and techniques. They may take some time, effort and money but they could save lives, including your own. Isn’t that worth something?
Here are some simple, easy things to do that could protect yourself and others in the event of a natural disaster:
- Be aware. There is nothing to be gained by putting your head in the sand and thinking “it can’t happen to me.” It can and it just might so you may as well be prepared! A disaster can be big or small and it can be an inconvenience or life-threatening, so accepting this reality and doing what you can to mitigate your risks is the smart thing to do.
- Have plans. The hardest thing about planning for a disaster is the not knowing. What kind of disaster is going to hit? When it will happen? Who will be in the office when it happens? Well, this is the nature of the word emergency! So, come up with a worst case scenario and design your plan around that. At a minimum, have an evacuation plan (with maps), a business continuity plan, and an employee plan. One of the biggest concerns of employees is going to be about their families so be clear in your plan about what responsibilities employees have for staying at the workplace and when can they go home.
- Invest in the supplies. While it might seem like the cost of having an emergency kit is high, or the need to ensure you have bottled water is excessive, when those items are saving your life or the life of your co-worker, they are not frivolous investments. Perhaps you need to take your time and build your larger supply stock over the course of a few months. In the interim, you should have the right kind of first aid kit, and other supplies that you deem necessary, in your area in the event that you had to be on your own for a couple of days. Those that do have them are the ones who are able to survive.
- Talk about it. Be sure to include your plans in your new employee orientation program, have your Occupational Health and Safety Committee give regular updates and mention it to your clients when you are touring them around your office or welcoming them to a meeting. The more informed people are, the more ready they will be to help out if needed.
This all sounds very fatalistic but…
If it saves a life, but seems a little rough around the edges, so be it.
The Get Prepared website is an excellent resource. If you would like to watch a video about Emergency Preparedness from the 1980’s (it even has a computer with a floppy disk drive!) then go here. It is actually very informative once you get past how old it is!
Your Engaged HR Assignment
Do what I did – review the resources and start making your way through the checklists. They are highly informative and will give you lots of ideas that you can adapt to the workplace. Then, you can put your head back in the sand and hope nothing happens (and if it does, you know you will be prepared!)