Orlando, FL– Rebounding after a natural disaster or a terrorist attack presents innumerable challenges for individuals, families, businesses and their employees. One way to lessen those challenges is to have a comprehensive disaster plan in place – and to have key players know their roles, have every employee familiar with the plan, and have everyone practice implementing the plan before a crisis hits, according to a study presented today at the 17th World Congress on Health and Safety at Work being held for the first time in the U.S.
Several companies have written some sort of emergency plan, but few have taken the time to think through all of the potential crises, the aftermath, and how to prepare employees to both survive a crisis and to recover. In Global Crisis Management:A Comprehensive Approach to Crisis Management, John Russell of the Liberty Mutual Group argues that every company should have a crisis plan to prevent or reduce the human and environmental impact of a disaster; to ensure all employees know what to do before, during and after a crisis; to minimize a significant interruption in normal business operations; and to comply with local, state and federal business regulations requiring a written plan.
“Crisis management is vital to a company’s success since it is essential that organizations protect their employees, operations, customers and reputation from emergencies and disasters,” said Russell. “As we are seeing with Katrina, crises can significantly affect the stability of a company, its reputation and ability to survive a major catastrophe. I predict that those companies who had thoughtful plans in place will recover with less disruption than those that had not thought this potential storm through.”
Russell urges companies to start their planning process by selecting a team of diverse individuals who can help think through all potential risk scenarios. The key elements of the plan that the team will put in place include: an assessment of potential risks and pre-planning for emergencies and terrorism, response policies and plans that will be used during incidents, recovery plan for minimizing losses, and technology support.
“An emergency plan is only as good as the information it is based upon and the ability of the company to implement it,” said Russell. “A written plan that assumes certain response capabilities without practice or training may be ineffective. Additionally, the plan must be kept current so that it accurately addresses the company’s needs.”
The assessment phase of the plan should look ahead to anticipate problems. This includes reviewing hazards, vulnerabilities, resources, emergency management and preparation, evacuation plans, fire safety, facility security, workplace violence, potential natural disasters and terrorism threats. The rest of the plan needs to cover response planning, including communications, program maintenance, emergency response, and claims procedures.
The recovery portion of the plan should anticipate the establishment of emergency operations, loss mitigation, and how to continue operating the business under challenging circumstances. Additionally, the crisis plan should anticipate the use and support of technology.
“As this report points out, workplace health and safety is about so much more than injuries and accidents,” said Alan C. McMillan, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, a co-host of the World Congress. “But even in the case of natural disasters and terrorist attacks, preparedness is one of the best means of protecting lives and businesses.”
More than 3,000 safety and health professionals from more than 110 nations are meeting this week at the 17th World Congress on Safety and Health at Work --- jointly organized by NSC, the United Nations’ International Labor Organization and the International Social Security Association.
The National Safety Council (nsc.org) saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads through leadership, research, education and advocacy.