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September 16, 2016

Plan for Communication in Emergencies

report to evacuation area ___
Your business probably has an emergency response plan. (If not, you should prepare one now!) You may even practice emergency evacuations and have designated assembly areas complete with muster point signs. But when a disaster is real, employees will have many uncertainties. Sure, everyone is out of the building, but what happens next?

This is the topic of an informative article published in the September Occupational Safety & Health magazine. This post will recap highlights of the article, with some additional information and resource links to help you develop your own emergency plans.

Beyond immediate evacuation plans, employers need a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to guide what happens in the days and weeks after an emergency. This is not the same as emergency action plans required by OSHA, EPA and other governing agencies. A thorough BCP covers everything from replacing buildings and relocating call centers or production lines to cybersecurity, temporary shelters and restocking office supplies.

BCPs typically include:

  • Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
  • Plans, measures, and arrangements for business continuity
  • Readiness procedures
  • Quality assurance techniques (exercises, maintenance and auditing)

But before any of these issues is addressed in an emergency situation, communication to employees should be the #1 concern.
After an emergency, employees will need answers to many questions, including:

  • Where do I go for information?
  • Who is in charge?
  • What if a news reporter asks me questions?
  • What happened?
  • When will the facility reopen?
  • Is there someone who can help me sort this out?

Pre-planned communication procedures will help your workers - and your business - move smoothly into recovery following any incident. Creating and maintaining a BCP and crisis communication plan helps ensure that an institution has the resources and information needed to deal with emergencies.

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