30 Minutes to a Safer Office

What if you knew that a 30-minute time investment could make an incredible impact on your business, your life, and your employees; lives? A recent Staples survey found that only half of employees feel their company is prepared for a severe emergency, and there's data that shows between 40 percent and 60 percent of businesses that have to close because of a natural or man-made disaster never reopen. In addition, 90 percent fail if they don't resume operation within five days of closing.

Whether it be a natural disaster, storm, or unexpected emergency, follow these tips to help your business prepare for the unexpected in just 30 minutes.

1. Create an emergency kit. Use a lightweight duffle bag or a backpack to store key emergency essentials you can grab within minutes. Your safety kit should include:

  • Water
  • First aid kit
  • Lighting: lantern, glow sticks, flashlights, crank lights
  • Spare clothing in a bag
  • Non-perishable food
  • Crank-powered cell phone charger
  • A file with a list of emergency numbers, recovery numbers, bank account numbers, checkbook numbers, insurance policy numbers, and any other important information.
  • All prescriptions you need
  • Crank-powered weather radio

2. Create an emergency contact list and establish a communication protocol for before the emergency, during the emergency, and after the emergency. According to a recent survey by Staples of more than 400 employees, 38 percent reported that their employer does not communicate safety plans regularly. Make sure all employees are aware in a timely manner of what to expect in a natural disaster or storm, and always test and discuss back-up plans.

3. Protect both physical and technological property of your business. Be sure to have the proper equipment to ready your office for a storm and ensure all crucial data is backed up.

4. Create an emergency social media account. Before an emergency strikes, make sure your social media accounts are following important officials and organizations. If you don't have access to television or radio, your social media accounts will be the best way to stay informed, helping you to make educated decisions.

5. Utilize existing tools to prepare your business and your employees in advance. You can go to organizations such as OSHA, the Small Business Administration, the National Safety Council, FEMA—even the IRS. All have websites that are very beneficial. Their online tools, downloads, and representatives run you through various scenarios for protecting and recovering your personnel and financial records, equipment, inventory, etc. At the very least, do your research and get all of the contact information you need for the organizations that can help you, such as your insurance agent, your attorney, the Red Cross, your Internet provider, etc. Then put that in a safe place—in your phone, with a hard copy kept somewhere safe. That's just one less thing to do when something bad happens.

Bob Risk is the senior strategic safety, health and wellness manager for Staples. His experience includes working with some of the largest corporations in the world to help them with emergency response efforts and environmental cleanups following disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast oil spill. He has developed global pandemic preparedness programs for dozens of corporations and works with businesses to address their safety needs.

Posted by Bob Risk on Aug 29, 2014