Last month, we discussed the impact earthquakes can have on a business. Broken water and gas lines can cause flooding and fires following an earthquake; mudslides may also result. In the aftermath of an earthquake, businesses must deal with several aspects of disaster recovery:
Documents must be dried out, buildings restored and workers’ safety verified. However, as Ben Franklin would advise, an ounce of earthquake preparedness is worth a pound of post-quake cure. This month, we’re focusing on helping you prevent physical losses from earthquakes. Here are the three steps FEMA recommends businesses take to protect themselves against earthquakes:
1. Identify risk.
Figure out if your business is located in an earthquake hazard area by viewing a USGS Earthquake Hazard Map at usgs.gov. Also, check to see if your suppliers, vendors and customers are in an earthquake zone; this will help you better anticipate how a big quake could throw off your operations.
Next, review both structural and non-structural risks your building could face in an earthquake. For structural risks, compare your municipality’s seismic standards with your building’s current structural weaknesses. Non-structural risks are those that aren’t directly related to your building’s structure but could still cause significant damage. For instance, a shaky propane tank could be knocked over during an earthquake, setting off a fire or even an explosion. Water heaters, piping and HVAC elements are a few of the non-structural elements FEMA points out. As you review your location for risks, also determine how each risk could impact your business.
2. Make a plan.
A few basic steps you’ll want to take include setting a project lead and writing a summary of seismic risks, priorities and objectives. Whether you prefer to carry out mitigation efforts in-house or hire a professional, FEMA has created spreadsheets you can use to track your company’s progress.
3. Take action.
Before actually carrying out the actions you compile in step two, make sure everyone involved is on board for seismic upgrades. The building owner or landlord, investment planners, facility engineers and emergency managers must all approve of your plan. It’s also smart to keep employees abreast of your plans; market the fact that your firm is dedicated to their safety. Indeed, FEMA has dozens of resources on educating employees and launching earthquake preparedness campaigns. As you work down your list of prioritized seismic retrofitting goals, be sure to celebrate your success!
Taking these steps will help prevent destruction of your physical facilities and assets. However, this doesn’t guarantee that your business will continue running smoothly after a quake. For that, you must come up with process workarounds. Find backup systems for your most crucial work processes.
For instance, if you must constantly be referring to hard copies of files, we recommend switching to a paperless system by scanning documents into digital form. This is an important part of disaster recovery. Documents you use every day must be accessible in the face of a disaster, or else you may find you must close shop even if your physical location is still operational. Rather than figuring out how to dry wet documents after the fact, it is wise to scan documents today and have access to them via the cloud tomorrow. Here at Rapid Refile, we are experts in both document recovery and document preparation. Call us to learn more about our document scanning services.
[ Photo by: Garycycles4, via CC License ]