Emergencies can happen anytime, including during business hours. You can’t predict when they will happen, but you can take actions to make your business more prepared.
An important step to getting prepared is finding out what the risks are and how they can impact on your business. Risks include natural hazards, health emergencies and utility failures.
If you have staff, talk to them about the risks they think are most relevant to your business.
Keeping everyone healthy and safe at work doesn’t necessarily mean buying expensive equipment and lots of paperwork. It does mean taking a proactive approach and getting everyone at work involved.
Businesses have an obligation to be prepared for an emergency. In most cases we can’t predict when an emergency will happen, but we can make plans to make sure our staff are safe, our financial and personal losses are reduced and we are able to get back to business as soon as possible.
Your plan should include the following.
Business.govt.nz has a guide on what to include in your emergency planning, including identifying risks, developing emergency procedures, insurance cover and contacting and supporting staff.
It is frightening to stay in a building immediately after an earthquake, but it is much safer than immediately going outside.
When you eventually evacuate, take your wallet, coat, bag and grab bag. You are more vulnerable if you leave these things behind. Large open areas with no tall buildings, power lines or other hazards immediately adjacent are best as an evacuation assembly area.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to your staff, including caring for them during and after emergencies.
Start by involving your staff in identifying risks and making an emergency plan. Talk to them about what they, and their families, would need to get through an emergency.
Make sure your staff have personal workplace emergency plans so they know who to contact at work in an emergency and have a plan to get home safely.
This personal workplace emergency plan will help you plan for an emergency during working hours.
Resilient Organisations has advice for looking after staff after an emergency, called Staffed or Stuffed.
In an emergency, your staff may be stuck at work or unable to take transport home for a day or more.
Ensure you have enough supplies for everyone onsite, including visitors, to get through the first few days together.
You may need dust masks, work gloves, hard hats or tools such as wrecking bars and sledge hammers.
You’ll need food and water (at least three litres per person) for three days or more, sanitary items, etc.
Encourage staff to have supplies in their work grab bags in case they need to walk home or to their meeting place. Make sure they have household plans with their families that include how they will get home, who they will travel with, where they will meet if that can’t get home, etc.
You may have to provide for people with serious injuries until help arrives. Make sure you have blankets, stretchers, a complete first aid kit, etc.
These suggestions for equipment and food are guidelines only. The amount and types of equipment and food you have at work will depend on the number of staff, the nature of your business, the type of building, and your location.
Ensure basic food supplies are also in the cabinets. Food items should be replaced on an annual or bi-annual basis.
The following is a suggested menu; note that the quantities are quite small, and may not be adequate for people doing physical labour.
Get involved in your local business community. Get to know your local Chamber of Commerce, industry organisations, business neighbours, competitors and suppliers and talk to them about their emergency and business continuity plans. In an emergency, you may be able to help each other get back up and running faster by sharing equipment, premises, etc.
Develop a contingency plan for your whole business, including staff, information, assets, customers, suppliers and distribution channels.
Follow the Shut Happens action task list to create contingency plans for your business.
Continuity and contingency planning is about being prepared for all types of disruptions, e.g. an earthquake, broken equipment or losing a supplier — and quickly getting back on your feet. Use the business.govt.nz step-by-step guide to get your plan sorted. It’s vital to your business’s survival.
Rural communities, businesses and individuals need to adapt and build resilience to adverse events, like natural disasters, severe weather, and biosecurity incursions.
Your animals are your responsibility. You need to include them in your emergency planning and preparation. Failing to plan for them in case a disaster happens (such as an earthquake or flood) puts lives at risk.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has advice for preparing a plan for your animals in an emergency, including checklists for different types of animals and different emergencies. Work through the checklists to develop your plan.