Hurricanes, fires, heart attacks, security breaches, security threats, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and even terrorist attactivies are just some of the many emergencies companies face today. How they prepare for them in advance will determine how well they survive such turmoil. Here are some steps an organization may want to initiate to insure the safety of their employees, minimize damage, and preserve their technology.
Emergency Policy Manual & Teams
Organizations should have a written emergency manual and every member of their management team should have a copy. According to what kind of emergency, the manual should include guidelines, procedures, and contact numbers for each type of situation. A team made up of management and employees should meet quarterly to review the manual and discuss and resolve any issues or concerns. The purpose of the team and its members is to implement the plan and coordinate efforts during drills and an actual emergency.
Hurricanes & Floods
Organizations residing in areas affected by these acts of nature usually have a few days in advance to prepare. The manual should include the following initiatives:
- Back up all computer files
- Relocate employees, equipment, technology crucial to operations out of the area and/or to satellite offices
- Prepare sandbags if necessary, install hurricane shutters if required, make sure generators are operational
- Employees prepare out of office messages on their voice mail and emails, shut down their computers, cover them with plastic bags, and place them on top of their desks, secure files, secure their offices, close all doors, and possibly relocate materials to the second or third floors
- Rosters should be issued with employee names, addresses, and telephone numbers among the departments.
- Managers should establish what employees will call call each other to confirm their safety and monitor who is missing.
- Update employee hotline with instructions regarding when to return to work and any other important messages. The hotline number should be printed on the back of all employee ID badges.
Tornadoes & Earthquakes & Fires
Orchestrate drills to insure employees know the exit routes and where to seek shelter. In the case of a tornado, they may seek shelter in the basement, under their desks, or in the hallway away from glass windows, in the case of a fire, outside, and in the case of an earthquake, under desks, in doorways, and/or outside.
If the organization does not have medical personnel on board, they should make sure they have a few employees and members of management who know CPR and basic first aid. They should also have in a centralized location, a first aid kit and a defibrillator.
It is imperative a company has there IT department install software to prevent hackers and viruses destroying files and/or stealing information as well as back up files on a regular basis. If and when they identify who the individual is, the company may want to consult with their attorney to determine whether or not to press charges.
If a company does not have a security on-site or a security officer to greet visitors at the main entrance, they may want to have their receptionist ‘buzz visitors’ into the office and have employees enter by swiping their ID badge. Some organizations have installed panic buttons for their receptionists as a measure to alert the office if a perpetrator enters. Before managers leave at night, they should make sure that their departments are secure and the building doors are locked.
Lastly, security cameras may also be placed in the parking lot and at all entrances/exits of the building. If any employee sees something suspicious they should alert their supervisor immediately, or if it is dangerous or harmful, call 9-1-1.
If the company does have security on-site, they should have a manual that outlines security procedures and it should be shared with department heads. On a side note, whenever an employee is about to be terminated, security should always be alerted and the manager or Human Resources representative should obtain the individual’s ID badge and company property before they leave the building.
Terrorist or Racist Activities
If a company suspects an employee is in engaging in such activities they should consult with their attorney and contact local authorities.
Depending on the emergency, some employees may need professional help to overcome the trauma they experienced. The company may want to invite licensed counselors to come on-site and offer to their employees to meet with them privately to address their issues.
In summary, if a company has manuals and procedures in place, holds practice drills, works closely with their IT and Security departments, communicates with their managers and employees in a calm and professional manner, it will have a good chance of minimizing damage, preserving its property and technology, and insuring the safety of their labor force.