Hurricane Preparedness at the Office

After last year’s hurricane season, it’s easy to look back on our personal preparedness. How well did we do at home, or during our evacuation plan? Did we have enough supplies to last through the power outage, and especially through the gas shortages? These are all simple things to look back on to better prepare for this season. However, one area that many people thought could be improved upon was the workplace. Many of us were out of work for one to two weeks, and it was near impossible to get in touch with our managers and coworkers.

Looking forward to the 2018 season, there are simple steps managers and corporate companies can take to make sure their employees feel safe, secure, and understood.

Develop a Detailed Plan.

OSHA requires an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) to be formulated and reviewed every year by most companies, so this step is crucial. This plan should review preparedness, policies and procedures for employee safety, business continuity and contingencies in case of severe damage, and policies for dealing with employees and vendors. It’s helpful to understand what conditions are necessary to activate your EAP; the chain of command; emergency functions and who performs them; how to account for employees and personnel (including evacuation routes and procedures); and equipment for personnel.

Understand Procedures and Responsibilities.

All employees need to understand their role in a hurricane situation. Employees need to know who is required to be on-site and when and who is considered essential to the business. Communicate specific roles and responsibilities clearly to all of your employees so that they understand what is required of them in a hurricane situation.

Coordinate and Communicate.

It’s important to understand what the response from other companies will be to the hurricane, especially hospitals, police, fire departments, and utilities. Be sure to communicate any information available to you with vendors, employees, and customers so that they know what your plan is before, during, and after the storm. Give your employees a clear chain of people to communicate with in the case of a power outage or emergency, and make sure everyone can check in and make sure everyone is okay. Some employees may experience serious property damage and loss, so this level of communication will be important after the storm.

Prepare Your Employees.

Communicate this plan clearly and concisely with all of your employees, especially ensuring that they all understand their roles and responsibility around the storm. Sometimes it’s as simple as making sure they help move some furniture away from the windows and unplug electronics to protect them from electronic surges. If your office can be opened as a shelter, give them a list of items they need to bring and be sure to let them know whether they’re allowed to bring pets to stay.

Review Your Plan Annually.

Community and company plans will change your preparedness plan, and you need to be sure to review these changes every year with your employees.

Especially since we are only one month away from hurricane season 2018, and after the devastation of Hurricane Irma, we all need to have detailed understandings of our employers’ requirements and processes for hurricanes. You may have employees who panic and decide to evacuate last-minute, or others who feel like they don’t have time to prepare properly at home because of work. This is the time to make sure they feel secure at their place of employment, and that their company has a plan.