Emergency Planning for Businesses – “When” not “If”

All emergencies are local – emergency planning for businesses is vital to economic, social, and even environmental resiliency, following a disaster.

In 2017, nearly 240 million calls were made to 9-1-1.

An emergency at your business is not a matter of if, but when. 

Preparing for that emergency significantly impacts your organization – before, during, and after an emergency ensues.

While no emergency plan can account for every possible scenario, an all-hazards emergency plan is important to the well-being and safety of your employees, as well as your business’ bottom line.

 

What should businesses consider when planning for emergencies?

 

Location. Location. Location.

 

Conducting an area hazards assessment is the first step in developing an emergency plan. This process helps business owners better understand potential threats and available resources.

The assessment should include broad threats, such as:

• Earthquakes
• Hurricanes
• Localized threats, like high crime areas

 

Every business is different. Consider how these hazards impact your business.

 

Are there certain areas in your building that could be cause for concern?

For example – at a convenience mart, if a fire broke out, do all employees know where the emergency shut-offs are? What procedures exist for securing cash drawers and the store as a whole, in the event of an evacuation?

Additionally, how frequently is this information communicated to employees or updated? Are they trained? Is this training documented?

Does the organization specify when site-level emergency plans should be updated?

 

An Emergency’s Impact on Business Operations

 

In the event of any emergency at your business, there will be some amount of disruption – this could be a matter of a few minutes, hours, or days depending on the category of the emergency.

Has your business determined what level of profit-loss could result if daily operations did not resume within a certain amount of time?

 

Insurance and Lawsuits

 

While businesses have insurance for things like emergencies and their impact on business, is there any chance that a lack of emergency planning could result in a rejected claim?

Or worse, could you be held liable for injury if emergency plans are not up-to-date?

Why Emergency Planning is Important for Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that around 25% of all businesses never re-open after a disaster or emergency strikes.

Poor emergency planning for businesses results in 25% of businesses failing to reopen following a disaster.

Prepare for Emergencies

Source: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/manage-your-business/prepare-emergencies

Even more staggering is the 2007 report, “Impact on U.S. Small Business” (HP & SCORE) which concludes that 75% of businesses without continuity plans fail within three years of a disaster.

While disruption to daily operations is inevitable in the event of an emergency, this disruption can be significantly minimized by having proper emergency plans in place.

In addition to this, treating emergency plans as “living documents,” and regularly assessing them will ensure they do not become outdated or ineffective.

 

Valuable Communication to Customers

 

Comprehensive plans to communicate emergencies benefit businesses in many ways. If possible, businesses should plan on how to communicate emergency events to customers at all stages of the situation.

Reusing the convenient mart scenario: should an incident take place – an active shooter for example, it is imperative that patrons coming to, and surrounding the convenient mart, be informed in order to minimize loss of life or injury.

Customers should also be instructed to keep the scene clear after the event has resolved to hasten the pace of investigation – improving the store’s ability to resume day-to-day operations.

 

Improving Employee and Customer Confidence in Your Business

 

Emergency planning for businesses signals to both employees and customers that your business is mindful of their safety.

Additionally, involving your employees in the preparedness process demonstrates safety as not only a mandatory business process, but also as a value of the company.

This type of company culture not only facilitates a safer environment but can also work to improve retention rates among both customers and employees, depending on the nature of the business.

 

Mitigating Against Loss of Life and Minimizing Damage

 

Depending on the degree of the emergency, the resulting damage can be as minimal as a few minutes/hours of operational loss, and as serious as the loss of life.

How well or how poorly you have planned for an emergency will dictate a large degree of an emergency’s outcome.

Sadly, in many instances, loss of life following an emergency could have been prevented, or severely minimized had there been better plans in place.

 

Avoiding Damage Done by Insurance Companies and Lawsuits

 

Poor emergency planning for your business could result in significantly higher insurance rates, or insurance companies denying your business coverage for presenting too high a risk.

While some businesses may be able to marginally sustain higher insurance premiums, this cost is often passed off to the consumer, and could result in loss of customer loyalty and diminish sales.

Additionally, you could be at a higher risk for lawsuits if there are no comprehensive and updated emergency plans in place.

Businesses have been sued for things far less critical, and paying out settlements to employees or customers could easily result in your company going bankrupt or being forced to sell.

 

How Businesses can Use Emergency Preparedness Software to Benefit their Bottom Line

 

Emergency planning software is a great way to account for the scenarios above.

With a system like SafePlans’ Emergency Response Information Portal (ERIP), businesses can consolidate all of their emergency plans in one place, and account for all areas of preparedness:

• Prevention
• Protection
• Mitigation
• Response
• Recovery

 

Streamline Planning, Collaborate, and Identify Gaps with ERIP

 

The ERIP system streamlines emergency planning for businesses with our plan development wizard, allowing users to go through the motions of emergency preparedness in a step-by-step process.

ERIP also makes it easy to establish teams and collaborate on planning to ensure gaps are accounted for.

 

Train Your Staff to Your Emergency Plans

 

ERIP’s eLearning module for emergency plans allows organizations to train all staff to their plans, all while tracking their employees’ training progress.

This will establish greater accountability among your employees and facilitate a greater sense of safety throughout the company.

 

Use ERIP to Ensure Emergencies Have Minimal Impact on Your Business’ Bottom Line

 

Contact SafePlans today to schedule a demo and learn more about how your business can leverage our emergency preparedness software to mitigate against damage to your organization’s bottom line.