Thankfully in the UK we do not currently suffer from hurricanes and major earthquakes, however, with the climate changing the weather has started to have a huge impact.
Just think about recent snowy winters and the rainy summer with associated flooding we have experienced that will have caused problems for the many businesses in affected areas.
It makes sense therefore that if a business wishes to survive it needs to be prepared and plan ahead for possible eventualities so that the business can return to “business-as-usual” as quickly as possible after a major disaster.
It is estimated that half of businesses have no effective plan in place, yet no business is free of risk of storms, fire, floods or a terrorist bomb. Business continuity planning or disaster recovery should have five basic steps – analyse the business, assess the risks, plan and prepare, communicate the plan, test the plan.
There should be written procedures that will allow a business to get back on its feet quickly. Having a checklist in place provides a structure for planning. Plans should detail immediate to long-term responses.
An immediate response should give guidance on ensuring staff are safe eg evacuating the building, taking shelter, shutting down equipment, using fire extinguishers, administering basic first aid, calling 999.
Once staff are initially safe the short-term response should include details on protecting the business eg contacting the insurance company, securing the building and valuable equipment and informing customers. As time goes by staff need to be kept informed of developments for business re-opening.
It may take some time for a business to get back to normal after a major disaster. Businesses may need to consider long-term support requirements eg providing traumatised staff with psychological support.
After an emergency, the business continuity plan needs to be reviewed for successes and failures making amendments and improvements as appropriate. Whilst disasters cannot be avoided, with careful planning the impact can be minimised.
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