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Is your business prepared to deal with an emergency?

No business is immune to disasters and their consequences, some of which can even threaten the company’s survival. Even worse, they could endanger the health and lives of employees. Fortunately, you can prepare for the unexpected with a solid emergency plan.

No business is immune to disasters and their consequences, some of which can even threaten the company's survival. Even worse, they could endanger the health and lives of employees.

Major incidents

Major incidents, emergencies, states of alert…whatever we choose to call them, they are usually as follows:

  • Natural disasters: windstorm, ice storm, flood, etc.
  • Accidents: drinking water outage, impact, serious injury, poisoning, etc.
  • Technical disasters: fire, explosion, collapse, gas leak, water damage, power outage, etc.
  • Human disasters: crime (theft, burglary), vandalism, contamination, bomb threat, pandemics, terrorism, etc.

Fortunately, you can prepare for the unexpected. In general, companies that are well prepared to deal with major incidents suffer fewer and less significant losses than those with no preparation.

How do you do that? By developing a solid emergency plan to manage foreseeable risks and ensure business continuity. This is also known as a contingency plan.

Develop an emergency plan

Above all, company management must believe in the benefits of developing an emergency plan and demonstrate their commitment by allocating adequate human and financial resources. Appoint someone to oversee the project and establish a planning committee to manage the process.

Form a committee

  • A lead who is familiar with the organization and its operation
  • A member of the management team who can allocate the appropriate resources
  • Employees who are interested and competent
  • If necessary, specialized external resources such as prevention specialists, risk managers, consultants, emergency plan writers and the local fire department

The 8 steps to follow

The committee responsible for building the emergency plan can do so effectively in 8 steps:

  1. Identify the risks and hazards (internal and external).
  2. Determine any control methods to reduce or manage the risks.
  3. Identify action to be taken and assign responsibilities.
  4. Prepare the first draft of the plan.
  5. Train staff.
  6. Test the plan.
  7. Revise the plan, if necessary.
  8. Keep the plan up to date.

Key points to keep in mind

Your emergency plan should be easy to understand, as it's going to be used in an emergency. It should get straight to the point. It's a reference tool that must provide effective support for training, clearly define responsibilities and identify the exact chain of command.

It's essential to have a person in charge of media relations during a major incident to manage pressure from the press. This preventive measure will also help maintain the company's reputation, reduce assumptions or rumours and avoid contradictions in statements, which could compromise the credibility of your business.

Finally, consider simulating an emergency to test your plan and assess your employees' reaction. You can then make any adjustments required. The simulation should convince you that employee training is an essential step in developing your plan.

To learn more, see the complete Emergency plan fact sheet.

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