Emergency Preparedness – Be Safe, Not Sorry

On August 7 and 8, 2017, Safety, Health, and Environment (SHE) professionals from Virginia and the Carolinas participated in the 16th annual Environmental, Energy, Health, and Safety School sponsored by the North Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (NCMA) held at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) McKimmon Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. Draper Aden Associates, an NCMA Business Partner, coordinated the “Special Topics” classroom sessions, including a two-part session on Emergency Preparedness.
 
Most of us along the Atlantic Coast think about hurricanes when we hear “emergency preparedness”, and rightly so! We are now in the middle of hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted 14 to 19 named storms in 2017 and two to five of those could become major hurricanes.
 
Every business, small or large, should plan against natural hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. But even on a clear day, unexpected incidents could cause your company hardship. Infrastructure failures (computer malware or power outage), human threats (terrorists or disgruntled employees), and the anticipated pandemic influenza can disrupt the workplace and cause devastating consequences. How would your business function if 40% of employees couldn’t come to work due to pandemic, or a ransomware note suddenly appeared on all office computers, or a tornado flattened your warehouse?
 
Some basic considerations are common to any type of disaster. Backup power, emergency communication systems, alternate worksites, food/water, and medical supplies can all be secured and put in place for a variety of needs. You may never need them, but having them ready will improve your recovery from the majority of potential emergencies.
 
We cannot avoid incidents, but we can minimize the impact through readiness, response, and recovery. Make preparedness a daily consideration of every person in your company at home and at the worksite. Don’t wait for disaster, but plan now.
 
Resources to Consider:
State and Federal Government Agencies responsible for emergency preparedness and response have developed useful tools to help us plan for the worst. Take advantage of these resources today.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management Prepare and Recover Resources
http://www.vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover/threats/

NC Department of Public Safety Emergency Preparedness Plans
https://www.ncdps.gov/emergency-preparedness

FEMA Preparedness Guide
https://www.fema.gov/pdf/areyouready/areyouready_full.pdf

Homeland Security Active Shooter Preparedness Resource Page
https://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness

US CDC Pandemic Influenza Website
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/

OSHA Guidance for Pandemic Preparedness
https://www.osha.gov/Publications/influenza_pandemic.html