The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) urges workplaces and communities to be prepared this hurricane season, which runs from June through November. Understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for business preparedness, ASSE is offering safety preparation tips, a disaster safety checklist, mold information and resources to assist businesses of all sizes before, during and after a disaster.
“This is important for all businesses to do throughout the year, even more so now since the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week predicted another dangerous hurricane season,” ASSE President Jack H. Dobson, Jr., CSP, said. “By being prepared before, during and after a catastrophe we can reduce injuries and property damage. In the long run, this saves everyone in the way of rebuilding costs and possible loss of life.
“It is disappointing to learn that while most businesses believe emergency preparedness is important, not enough are taking the necessary steps to prepare. This needs to change,” Dobson continued.
According to an October 2005 survey of small businesses conducted by the Ad Council, 92% of respondents said that it is very important or somewhat important for businesses to take steps to prepare for a catastrophic disaster, such as an earthquake, hurricane or terrorist attack. However, only 39% said their company has a plan in place in the event of such a disaster.
NOAA announced that it is predicting 13 to 16 named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become “major” hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher, for the 2006 hurricane season.
In light of this, ASSE has made available emergency tip sheets, check lists and more for businesses, homes, workers, and communities on its Web site. The preparation tips available, and described in more detail, include doing a business risk assessment, developing a company emergency plan and for employees — incorporating community and vendor needs as well as the personal needs of your employees, developing a plan based on recognized needs for continuing operations during or just after a disaster, defining crisis management procedures and individual responsibilities in advance, and, to coordinate with other community businesses and emergency officials by sharing your contingency plans.
Tips to follow after a disaster offered by ASSE include doing a hazard evaluation and assessment performed by an occupational safety professional. This includes key areas such as structural security, clean-up safety, air quality assessment, ventilation, equipment safety, electrical safety, office furniture, sanitation issues, lighting, hazardous waste removal, power checks, computers and possible chemical leaks, surface safety, and updating one’s emergency plan.
Also, available for purchase is the book titled On Risk and Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina by the University of Pennsylvania Press.