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Business Disaster Prevention & Preparedness

Published on: 8/6/2014 7:59 AM
PLANNING TEAM– There must be an individual or group in charge of developing the emergency management plan.
  • Participation - Participants should be appointed in writing by upper management.  Obtain input from the following functional areas:  upper management, line management, labor, human resources, engineering and maintenance, safety, health, and environmental affairs, public information officer, security, community relations, sales and marketing, legal, finance and purchasing.
  • Authority – Management should authorize the planning team to take the necessary steps to develop a plan.
  • Mission – Management should issue a mission statement to demonstrate the company’s commitment to emergency management.
  • Time – Establish a flexible work schedule and planning deadlines.
  • Money – Develop an initial budget for expenses such as research, printing, seminars, consulting services, etc…


  • Internal Plans/Policies – Review internal plans and policies (safety and health program, security procedures, employee manuals, mutual aid agreements, etc…).
  • External Groups – Meet with outside groups (community emergency management office, American Red Cross, utilities, neighboring businesses, etc…).
  • Regulations – Identify codes and regulations (Occupational Safety and Health regulations, Fire Codes, Corporate policies, etc…).
  • Critical Operations – Identify critical products, services, and operations.  (products/services, facilities, equipment, personnel, suppliers, utilities, communications, transportation, etc…)
  • Internal Resources – Identify internal resources and capabilities for emergency response (personnel, equipment, facilities, training, plans, backup systems, etc…).
  • External Resources – Identify external resources (local emergency management office, fire department, hospitals, police, utilities, insurance, contractors, etc…).
  • Insurance – Meet with insurance carriers to review all policies.  See Insurance, Records & Important Documents.


  • Potential Emergencies – List potential emergencies (historical, geographical, human error, regulatory, etc…).  Analyze what could happen with each potential emergency as a result of the following:  prohibited access to the facility, loss of electric power, communication lines down, ruptured gas mains, water damage, smoke damage, structural damage, air/water contamination, explosion, building collapse, trapped persons, chemical release, etc...
  • Probability – Estimate the probability of occurrence.
  • Human Impact – Assess the potential human impact.
  • Property Impact – Assess the potential property impact (cost to replace and repair).
  • Business Impact – Assess the potential business impact (business interruption, employees unable to report to work, customers unable to reach facility, company in violation of contractual agreements, imposition of fines and penalties or legal costs, interruption of critical supplies, interruption of product distribution, etc…).
  • Resources – Assess internal and external resources.  Do you have the needed resources and capabilities to respond to each potential emergency?  If the answer is no consider the following:  additional procedures, training, equipment, mutual aid agreements, specialized contractor agreements, etc…
  • Emergency Management Group (EMG) – The EMG is responsible for the big picture.
  • Incident Commander (IC) - The IC oversees the technical aspects of the response. 
  • Emergency Operations Center (EOC) – The EOC serves as a centralized management center for emergency operations.


  • Consider communications between:  emergency responders, IC, EOC, employees, outside response organizations, neighboring businesses, employee’s families, customers, and the media.
  • Methods of communication include:  messenger, telephone, two-way radio, fax machine, microwave, satellite, dial-up modem, local area networks, and hand signals.


  • Evacuation –
    • Determine the conditions under which an evacuation would be necessary.
    • Identify personnel with authority to order an evacuation.
    • Consider employees’ transportation needs for community evacuations.
    • Establish procedures for assisting people with special needs.
    • Designate personnel to continue or shut down critical operations as deemed appropriate.
    • Designate primary and secondary evacuation routes.
      • Should be wide enough to accommodate number of evacuating personnel.
      • Should be clear and unobstructed at all times.
      • Should be unlikely to expose evacuating personnel to additional hazards.
    • Designate assembly areas where personnel should gather for accountability after evacuating.
    • Coordinate plans with local authorities.
  • Shelter –
    • Consider the conditions for taking shelter (tornado, hazmat, etc…).
    • Identify shelter space in the facility and in the community.
    • Establish procedures for sending personnel to shelter.
    • Determine needs for emergency supplies such as water, food, and medical supplies.
    • Designate shelter managers, if appropriate.
    • Coordinate plans with local authorities.
  • Family Preparedness – Consider ways to help employees prepare their families for emergencies.  This will also serve to help make them more productive members of your team at work.


  • Establish procedures for:
    • Fighting fires.
    • Containing material spills.
    • Closing or barricading doors and windows.
    • Shutting down equipment.
    • Covering or securing equipment.
    • Moving equipment to a safe location.
  • Protection Systems – Determine needs for systems to detect abnormal situations, provide warning and protect property.  Consider:  fire protection systems, lightning protection systems, water-level monitoring systems, overflow detection devices, automatic shutoffs, and emergency power generation systems.
  • Mitigation – Consider ways to reduce the effects of emergencies.
  • Facility Shutdown – Facility shutdown is generally a last resort but always a possibility.  Improper or disorganized shutdown can result in confusion, injury and property damage.
  • Records Preservation – Preserving vital records is essential to the quick restoration of operations.  See Insurance, Records, & Important Documents.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH – Maintain a dialogue with community leaders, first responders, government agencies, community organizations, utilities and the media.

RECOVERY AND RESTORATION –  Business recovery and restoration goes right to a facility’s bottom line:  keeping people employed and the business running.  See Business Continuity Planning.


(Attribution:  Public-Private Partnership with Federal Emergency Management Agency)