Governance, Risk and Compliance

3 Ways for Companies to Prepare for Natural Disasters

By Resolver Modified June 8, 2015

Many workers believe their companies don’t take natural disasters and severe weather events seriously enough. Natural disasters are unpredictable, both in terms of when and where they will strike and that havoc they will wreak on businesses and people in the region. To make matters worse, many businesses are ill-prepared to handle these severe weather events, according to a recent survey from Cintas Corporation. The survey suggests that out of the 1,300 U.S. workers polled, as many as 75 percent believe their companies would not be able to maintain operations through a natural disaster. However, businesses can bolster resilience by taking several small steps to minimize damage to buildings and stock, mitigate harm to employees and enable companies to get back to work more quickly.

1. Preparing for Natural Disasters of Every Kind

When you hear the term “natural disaster,” you likely think of floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and other environmental hazards. However, many risk managers fail to account for one of the most prevalent natural disasters – illness. Outbreaks of illnesses, such as the H1N1 virus a few years ago, can leave employees bedridden and significantly impact productivity. Businesses shouldn’t ignore the risk of illness. Encourage sick employees to stay home while they are contagious to prevent viruses from spreading to other workers and impacting productivity. During flu season, promote good hygiene throughout the office.

2. Create Emergency Action Plans

A company’s workers are its top assets – any injuries during severe weather events will have a significant impact on operations. Risk managers should take the time to develop emergency action plans that will ensure the safety of workers during natural disasters. Establish evacuation protocols for fires and floods, and create shelter zones for earthquakes or hurricanes. A healthy workforce is a productive one, and businesses should do all in their power to prevent injuries and fatalities during catastrophes.

3. Don’t Become Complacent

It doesn’t matter where businesses are located, natural disasters can happen anywhere at any time. Just because your company hasn’t experienced an earthquake in 20 years, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen tomorrow. Unprepared companies are the ones that suffer the greatest losses, so risk managers need to ensure they aren’t complacent when it comes to planning for these events. “Conduct training that details a variety of emergency responses, from a cardiac arrest incident or fire, to a natural disaster such as a tornado or earthquake,” The Street adds. “Taking a proactive approach will help employees react without panic if a large-scale emergency were to occur.” According to global reinsurer and financial group Swiss Re, many businesses are changing how they prepare for natural disasters by looking to build resilience to these events, instead of trying to mitigate damage afterwards. Having an established safety protocol is crucial to this process.

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