How Business Owners Can Prepare for Disasters

A business owner must wear many hats in order to be successful. There are employees to manage, financial decisions to be made, budgets to be balanced, and marketing efforts to approve. One thing that often goes unrecognized amidst the business and chaos is the need for a disaster preparedness plan.


You as a business owner need to ensure that your business is legally protected and prepared for all types of emergencies, from break-ins to hurricanes. Putting standards in place to ensure a safe and fair workplace for all employees, having an evacuation plan, and preparing for your business for a natural disaster are all important steps to take.

Whether you think your business is at risk or not, it's always a good idea to be prepared for the worst. As the saying goes, it’s better safe than sorry.

Employee Rights Under OSHA

Preparing for disaster starts with making sure your business is a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. Employees’ rights under OSHA (The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration) deal with work-related injuries and the potential for workplace hazards, so it’s important to understand those rights so you can best serve your employees.


As an employer, you must provide proper training and equipment to your employees so that they can carry out their jobs safely and without hazard. Evaluating your building security and carrying out workplace health and safety measures such as keeping loose cables and wires out of the way and having clean bathrooms are great ways to make a workplace safe for employees and customers.


If an issue does occur, your employees have the right to make a report to OSHA, and it’s always a good idea to keep your own records of these incidents. OSHA also offers employees whistleblower protection, meaning that you as an employer can’t take action against an employee who filed a report or complaint.


Knowing the rights of your employees and doing everything you can to create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace is one of the best things you can do to prepare your business for an emergency.

Business Property Insurance

Now that you know how to take care of the people inside your building, you should focus your attention on the building itself. If you have anything valuable in or around the physical building in which you do business (which all businesses do) then you need business property insurance.


It can protect your personal property, tools and equipment, inventory, furniture, computers, important documents, landscaping, and more. Business property insurance also helps to protect your business from anything from a break-in or burglary to a flood or fire.


Because you can’t control other people’s actions or the weather, no matter how hard you might try, opting into business property insurance is essential for preparing for disaster or emergency. There would be nothing worse than forgoing insurance, experiencing a break-in, and losing valuable items or information that you worked hard to get.

The Importance of Having an Evacuation Plan

No disaster preparedness plan would be complete without an evacuation plan. Evacuation plans are required by OSHA and help to keep everyone calm in the face of disaster. There’s really no reason not to have one.


●     Have a clear meeting space: Your evacuation plan should have a clear and designated meeting space where everyone goes. By keeping people together, you’ll be able to get an accurate headcount to make sure everyone is safe. This extends to visitors and customers, too. When people are in your building who don’t work for you, they will be able to follow the crowd and exit the building safely and without incident.


Inspect your route: You’ll also want to inspect your chosen evacuation route frequently to make sure no exits are blocked and that the path is clear. It’s easy for things to pile up in hallways or for snow to block an exit from the outside, so route inspection is key to the usability of your evacuation plan.


●  Practice your route: Whether you’re facing a flood, fire, or terrorist attack, the importance of knowing how to get out of a building when you need to cannot be overstated. It’s also important to note that one of the most important parts of your evacuation plan is practicing it. This is the only way to ensure that everyone knows where they need to be when it counts.


Perhaps above all else, having a disaster plan offers peace of mind. If something bad were to happen, you know you’re covered by following OSHA guidelines, getting business property insurance, and having a solid evacuation plan. Your employees and customers will thank you, too.


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