No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to protect your business from harm completely. At some point, one of your employees may be injured in an accident, or a natural disaster may cause disruptions in your operations by damaging the equipment or the building itself.
If an emergency occurs, you may have to shut down your business operations, which will inevitably impact your company in the long run.
Catastrophes are unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely powerless when facing them. If you prepare in advance, you’ll be more likely to bounce back.
Here are the steps you can take to keep your business operations running and minimize the negative impact of a disaster.
Carry out a risk assessment
Performing a risk assessment is one of the first things you can do to prepare for an emergency. This assessment will help you determine potential threats, their effects on your venture, and how you can mitigate these risks.
Possible hazards include anything that may happen to your processes, infrastructure and people, such as tech risks (machinery malfunctions) or natural threats like tornados. Once you’ve identified them, figure out how they can impact you.
For instance, is your data backup system reliable if there’s a power outage? What about an earthquake? Are your employees well trained in case something like that happens?
Identify the most vulnerable areas in your business and what you can do to protect them. Rank the threats based on their frequency and your vulnerabilities to them based on the impact they could have on your business.
For instance, according to inventory results, employee theft costs businesses $5,000 annually, while computer failure costs $100 per hour. This means the latter may not require as much attention as the former.
By differentiating low-frequency threats from high-frequency ones, you can prioritize your risk mitigation efforts.
Create a plan and review it often
An emergency action plan is a written procedure manual for dealing with potential threats to an organization.
Typically, it includes components like evacuation plans, adherence to laws and regulations, and compliance with industry standards. Different types of businesses will have different emergency plans, as the hazards can vary.
It’s crucial to be as thorough as possible in the planning process because every single detail matters significantly.
The plan should address how to protect employees, customers and physical assets in case of different emergency scenarios like fires, earthquakes and data breaches.
Also, it should include a communication strategy for addressing the public during a crisis. It is vital to regularly review and update the emergency plan to ensure its efficiency.
This includes keeping emergency contact information and evacuation plans up to date and periodically checking and replenishing disaster kits.
Testing the plan through simulations is also a good practice, as it allows you to identify and address weaknesses.
A recommended approach is to conduct a disaster simulation at least once a year and designate employees to take on different roles during the simulation to ensure the processes are working as intended.
It’s obviously not possible to cover all the potential emergencies – after all, no one would have ever thought about the pandemic striking the entire planet. But some things are, however, in your control.
For instance, in case of critical equipment failure, you can think of available resources to help you get through the crisis, such as a temporary boiler.
This is an efficient solution that can save your business in case your boiler system stops functioning, and you need temporary steam for the building. If you rent a temporary boiler, you’ll enjoy many benefits, such as saving money.
Moreover, it will help you improve the working environment. For instance, in the construction sector, waiting until the plaster dies is inefficient, as this hinders workers from moving to the following phases of construction.
But a temporary boiler can speed up the process, enabling workers to meet deadlines and complete the work faster.
Be prepared to respond
Once the emergency action plan is in place, it’s vital to communicate it to your employees and ensure they understand their responsibilities in case of a crisis.
Employees should also get the opportunity to practice the plan through tabletop drills or exercises, which can help identify issues or areas for improvement.
Also, it is vital to share the plan and response protocols, including evacuation procedures, with local emergency response teams like the fire department, emergency medical services, and police department.
This ensures they will be ready to assist if there’s an emergency, and they may even be able to provide valuable insights that can be included in the plan. You can also consider other areas for your team members, such as:
- Fire extinguisher use;
- Emergency equipment shutdown;
- Building evacuation procedures;
- Basic first aid;
- Emergency notification procedures;
- Cardio-pulmonary respiration.
Training is crucial in emergency preparation, as it may even save a life. More importantly, it can prevent a potential disaster and make an entire difference between closing the operations for several hours and being out of business indefinitely.
Get back into business asap
After implementing these steps, you should identify the worst-case scenario and determine how you’ll recover. Here are some steps you can take in this direction:
- Identifying a backup location to work in case of displacement;
- Building a network of contacts who can provide replacement computers and equipment;
- Identifying restoration and cleaning services that can help after a fire or storm;
- Developing a data backup to protect critical information;
- Establishing effective communication channels to reach employees and customers in case of an emergency;
- Preparing for potential disruptions in the supply chain by identifying alternative suppliers.
Consider how fast you can bounce back after a crisis – you may feel proud of getting your operations running in three weeks, but what if it only takes one week for your competitor?
In that case, you may lose customers, and your reputation may suffer. Being in business isn’t that complicated – staying in business is the real challenge. To be resilient, you must plan ahead and be ready for unexpected emergencies.