No person or place is safe from disasters and the losses that come with them. Financial disasters, infectious disease outbreaks, and natural hazards lead to large-scale consequences for organizations.
To minimize the damages brought by all kinds of disasters, companies need an emergency response plan.
Benefits of an Emergency Response Plan in an Organization
An emergency response plan contains the resources and responsibilities for how an organization should deal with an emergency. Its objective is to:
- Minimize or prevent fatalities and injuries
- Reduce damage to the building, equipment, and other properties of the organization
- Protect the community and its environment
- Fast-track the return to normal operations
Apart from the abovementioned reasons, emergency response plans have these benefits:
- Commitment to safety. With countermeasures to potential threats, you show that your organization is committed to protecting your employees and the surrounding community.
- Improved regulatory compliance. Aligning your response plans with regulations helps you avoid unnecessary fines and possible shutdowns due to non-compliance.
Creating an Emergency Response Plan
If you don’t know where to begin, take a look at your government’s general requirements for emergencies. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published guidelines for emergency response and preparedness.
Generally, emergency response planning requires four phases:
This phase involves preventing or reducing the causes and impacts of disasters. Mitigation may include buying the necessary insurance policies or securing appropriate equipment.
The preparedness phase involves developing concrete plans, exercises, and training ahead of a disaster. This phase also requires planning for emergency services, training the employees, assessing the results, and adjusting the plan.
This phase occurs immediately after the disaster. By this time, business operations do not function normally. The response phase addresses how the organization responds to issues like supply chain interruptions and changes in staffing.
Recovery focuses on restoring critical business functions so that operations can continue after a disaster. Sometimes, the recovery period after a disaster can be prolonged, but this phase can help with rebuilding damaged structures and reducing excessive financial burdens.
Making Your Emergency Response Plan a Success
While no emergency response plan is perfect, it must improve your organization’s level of preparedness. Here’s how to get your planning right the first time:
Get everyone involved
One challenge of emergency planning is apathy and resistance to it. Some people don’t like to think about their weaknesses in disasters, while others believe that resources are better spent somewhere else. Getting everyone in the organization to participate involves awareness of recent disasters and liabilities.
Address all hazards the community is exposed to
It may be challenging to prepare for all types of hazards. Identify all the disasters the community will probably face. For example, if your office is near the coast, you’ll likely be exposed to floods and tsunamis.
Do thorough research
The success of an emergency response plan relies on accurate knowledge of the disaster, the possible human responses, and the likely support from government agencies.
You may not know when an emergency will happen, but when it does, your organization will be prepared. Developing an emergency response program in advance, training your team, and continuously reviewing and revising the plan is vital to the successful management of any emergency incident.