Disaster Readiness for Businesses
As a business owner, you don't want to think about your operations being interrupted by a natural disaster or other unexpected event. But as we've watched the gulf coast areas of the United States deal with the impact of hurricanes, we know the possibility is a real one.
Fortunately, there are many resources available to assist business owners in developing a disaster preparedness program.
What is a disaster preparedness program?
A disaster preparedness program is a plan, either self-directed or guided by an organization, that enables business owners to prepare themselves, their employees, and their businesses for the possibility of a natural or man-made disaster.
Organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and state governments provide disaster assistance for damages to small businesses located in declared disaster areas.
Steps to implement a disaster preparedness program
Following are five steps that will help you create a disaster preparedness program, as outlined by ready.gov, a national public service campaign designed to educate Americans about preparing for and responding to natural and man-made disasters.
Step 1: Program Management. In many cases, there are minimum regulations that govern how certain businesses manage risk, but as a business owner you will need to determine whether the minimums are enough. As ready.gov states, "Many risks cannot be insured, so a preparedness program may be the only means of managing those risks." Management commitment to a preparedness program, as well as a written preparedness policy and oversight committee, may be critical to ensuring your business's longevity.
Step 2: Planning. This step should include the creation of a "risk assessment" that identifies all potential risks and hazards for your business, with ideas for mitigating their impact. It should highlight threats and hazards that are considered "probable," as well as any that could cause injury, property damage, business disruption, or environmental impact. Another critical document is the "business impact analysis," which details sensitive or critical processes as well as the financial and operational impacts that would occur due to disruption of those processes.
Step 3: Implementation. In this step, committee members identify and assess resources, draft written plans, develop a system to manage incidents, and train employees as needed. Several key documents contribute to successful program implementation, including crisis communications, emergency response, and business continuity plans.
Step 4: Testing & Exercises. To evaluate the program's effectiveness, including the success of employee training, management should run tests and drills to see what works and note opportunities for improvement.
Step 5: Program Improvement. During testing or an actual incident, weaknesses in the program are likely to be revealed. They should be documented, along with lessons learned and strategies for addressing such problems in the future.
For more tips on disaster readiness for your business, contact MNM Vested, LLC.