No one wants to imagine an emergency that would put our workplace and team members in danger, but we must be realistic about potential emergencies so that we can mitigate their consequences.
Emergencies that affect our office environments or fabrication plants can be natural or manmade. Whether you experience a data breach, computer virus or a natural disaster, your company needs a plan. How can you prepare?
First, realistically analyze the possibilities. Consider what could happen depending on your plant’s location and areas of vulnerability. Be mindful of potential internal emergencies as well.
Next, prep your tech. Continually back up all data, records and even your processes to the cloud. Scan and upload physical documents and save them to the cloud as well. Online storage is inexpensive, and the data backup process is straightforward. Also, walk through your plant and make a list or video record of all the company’s physical assets. Include serial numbers and costs so any damaged equipment can be reported to your insurance company quickly. Upload this document to the cloud as well.
Next, it’s time to make a disaster action plan based on potential scenarios. You can find many action plan templates online, such as this one. Your first priority is always employee safety, so establish a clear chain of events to get your team members to a secure location. Include things in your plan such as building exits and how to account for all employees. Then decide on your most important secondary objectives and how they will be accomplished. Consider short and long-term alternatives that could allow you to resume business as usual. For example, in the event of damage to your plant, is there a location where your team could temporarily relocate?
Now that you have an actionable plan, it’s time to communicate the plan with all employees. If no one knows your disaster action plan, it will be of no value. Provide multiple hard copies of your disaster action plan and distribute them at all key locations in your shop to improve accessibility.
In addition to sharing the plan with your entire team, consider how you will communicate during an emergency. If your shop loses power or internet access, you will need alternate methods of contacting people inside and outside the company. Include a communication strategy for contacting law enforcement or safety personnel.
Train your team. Make sure they are familiar with the plan and practice it so there is no question about what to do. This also provides an opportunity to discover potential shortfalls and make necessary adjustments.
Finally, consider what actions should be taken to spread accurate information to stakeholders. Once the crisis has passed and everyone is safe, you will want to inform customers and employers. Provide updates via available means so that they understand potential problems or delays.
Anatomic Iron Steel Detailing is not a fabricator, but we have had a well-developed disaster plan in place since 2008. We were lucky in this respect, as we used this plan at the start of the pandemic and already had established technology relationships to migrate our office and staff to a work-from-home scenario quickly and effectively.
No one knows what the next disaster will be, but the best protection is to be prepared, even if it is with a simple plan and some commercial relationships with local providers who can assist your business.
You can’t control the world around you, but you can be prepared to respond to different scenarios and help your team be ready to face them.