Natural disasters are the number-one safety issue that employees worry about, but the majority (60 percent) of businesses haven’t revised their safety plans in the wake of recent disasters like Hurricane Sandy, a survey by Staples reports. It’s hurricane season, so if you don’t have a safety plan in place, now is the time to develop one.
Although three out of four employees feel their employers take safety seriously, that didn’t jibe with the fact that only half say their employers have communicated a safety plan to them. And in case of an emergency, more than one-fourth of employees say their employers will only tell them what to do “at the last minute.”
Among small businesses, the problems are even worse. Fewer than half of small businesses communicate their safety plans regularly or are prepared for a major disaster. Some 38 percent admit their company does not have safety training or drills.
By comparison, midsized companies were much more likely to have plans in case of emergencies, such as the need to evacuate (90 percent), lock down the building (56 percent) or shelter in place (46 percent).
What should your safety plan include? Staple’s survey recommends:
- Procedures for responding to various emergency situations. Consider the disasters that are most likely to strike in your region of the country. In addition to natural disasters, consider what you’d do in the face of a man-made event such as a fire or robbery.
- Having adequate resources and supplies on hand for crises. Make sure you have all the necessary safety products, such as first aid kits and fire extinguishers, in a place you can easily reach during an emergency.
- A plan to recover and maintain business continuity. Protect both the physical and technological property of your business. Make sure all data is backed up and that you and your team have a way to access key data off-site if necessary so you can keep the business running.
- Employee training. Make sure all employees know what to expect in case of a natural disaster or other emergency. Don’t wait until it actually happens! Establish a communication protocol for before, during and after the disaster, including how you will communicate in your place of business to make sure everyone is accounted for, and how you will communicate if a disaster strikes before the business day starts to make sure employees know what to do. Do regular trainings and run-throughs of your plan.
- A backup plan. Always have an alternate plan. Regularly discuss backup plans with employees and test them just as you do your primary disaster plan.