Emergency Preparedness Plan Important for All Businesses

With companies still feeling the impact of last week's hurricane, many employers are reviewing and revising their emergency preparedness plans. Hurricane Sandy has re-emphasized the importance of all employers having plans in place to address emergencies. While employers with 10 or more employees covered under OSHA standards are required to have written emergency plans, all employers can benefit from employees knowing and understanding management's response to emergencies.

Consider these tips when perfecting an business emergency plan.

  • Develop a plan to address in-office contingencies. An emergency evacuation plan should be posted and communicated to employees. Protections for employees with Disabilities should be considered, and a coordinator should be prepared to assist employees as needed. Designate certain employees to perform specific emergency functions, such as telephoning the authorities or organizing escape routes.
  • Conduct a hazardous materials audit to determine if there are threats within the workplace.
  • Establish a method for contacting employees' family members if an incident occurs during the work day.
  • Include first aid materials in a centralized location. Make sure one or more employees are certified in CPR and basic first aid. Emergency telephone numbers should be posted.
  • Develop an emergency reporting plan when contingencies occur outside of the workday. Managers or a select group of employees should have contact numbers and email addresses for all employees. A phone chain or other communication procedure should be established, and one or more people should be involved in activating the communication chain.
  • Consider financial emergencies and develop a back up plan for paying employees if payroll systems are compromised.
  • Review emergency action plans with employees on a regular basis.

The government has many tools for preparing a business-appropriate emergency plan. See FEMA's recommendations at http://www.ready.gov/business/implementation/emergency.

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