Your insurance is in place, but is your business logistically prepared should a disaster hit? If you needed to quickly evacuate your workforce, could you do it safely? Do your employees know what to do in an emergency situation?
Too often, small-business owners consider evacuation plans and other disaster-preparedness measures to be tasks that are solely for large corporations. The 2013 Staples’ Business Safety Survey revealed that more than half of small-business employees said they were not prepared for severe emergencies or that safety plans were not often communicated.
The truth is, small businesses are usually at an even greater risk than are large businesses, due to a lack of resources. To protect your people and assets, use the following four-step guide for evacuation planning.
Create a pan of action to safely and efficiently evacuate your building. Designate evacuation routes and exits (primary and secondary) for employees. Also designate evacuation wardens. These are employees who have the authority to order an evacuation. Choose one person to be the lead warden and appoint others who can act if that person isn’t available. A good rule of thumb is one warden for every 20 employees.
Once the evacuation routes are established, mark them clearly. Make sure they are well lit and easily accessible. Don’t forget about employees who will need assistance.
The final part of the evacuation should be a regroup plan. Where will everyone meet once they are outside? Designate this location and establish a system for accounting for everyone as they arrive.
Of course, the best-laid plans are worthless if no one knows about them. Write down the plan. Distribute it to all employees. Keep a master copy on file.
Post maps of the building with evacuation routes clearly marked. Make sure all emergency exits are clearly marked.
Review evacuation procedures with employees to ensure everyone is familiar with the proper protocols. Make this standard training for all employees. As part of their training, include how to assist those with disabilities or special needs during an evacuation. Include basic medical rescue duties as well.
Once your employees are aware of your evacuation procedures and are trained on how to execute them, practice. Conduct drills regularly to prepare employees for the real deal. Conduct training frequently to ensure new employees have all the necessary information and seasoned employees don’t forget it.
What about after the evacuation? If a catastrophe closed your doors for a few days, do you have a plan in place to reopen them?
To prepare for what you may encounter after an evacuation, consult with your insurance agent. Make sure you have proper coverage in place to protect your business from a disaster. Understand your coverage and review your policy each year with your insurance carrier to make necessary adjustments as your business changes and grows.
Additionally, keep all insurance information in a safe place so you can access it in case of an emergency. Reach out to your insurance provider as soon as possible after an incident to expedite any claims.