Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Take care of your people and protect your business

Natural disasters are inevitable. Not being prepared for these disasters can open your company up to physical, structural, and organizational destruction. Read on to learn earthquake preparation that could save your organization from loss during a major disaster.

Why is it Important for Business to Be Prepared for Earthquakes?

Protecting the safety of employees in the workplace is an important role of your business. In the case of an earthquake, the fault could fall to the employer if their lack of an earthquake strategy hindered this safety. Therefore, having a plan in place to protect the physical well-being of your employees is critical. Further, earthquake preparedness can protect company assets, help alleviate the stress and strain that comes from the devastation, and allow your organization to move forward confidently.

How Can Companies Prepare for an Earthquake?

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), there are a few steps to take to be prepared and quickly respond to an earthquake. Let’s review these below:

Equipping

Not only should you provide employees with necessary disaster supplies such as a first aid kit, but also provide information on what to do in case of an earthquake. Delineate safe places, like under a sturdy table or door frame away from windows or large structures that could fall on you. If you are not sure where these safe places are in your location, perform a workplace survey and identify potential hazards to workers if an earthquake occurs. This is especially important if you are in a high-risk area for earthquakes.

Training and Exercises

Provide earthquake preparedness training for all employees such as the phrase drop, cover, and hold-on to prevent injury from earthquakes. This stands for dropping under a sturdy desk or table, covering and protecting your eyes by keeping your head down and holding on to one leg of the table or desk. Training helps your employees feel more confident when a natural disaster occurs and reduces the level of chaos and fear in the office. Participating in earthquake drills can be extremely beneficial for all employees and organizations. Ensure your employees are learning the proper earthquake preparedness by running drills at least once a year and hosting company-wide Q&As to encourage focus and attentiveness.

Emergency Plan

During an earthquake, you want each employee to be versed in the organization’s emergency plan. As you equip and train your employees on earthquake preparedness, be sure the emergency plan is part of that preparation. Your emergency plan should provide a checklist for when to evacuate and directions to safe locations to wait. Provide all the necessary phone numbers of owners or managers to contact once the earthquake has subsided to account for all employees. An organized emergency plan can lead to fewer injuries and less downtime for an organization, so do not overlook this step!

Earthquake Preparedness in Both Small and Large Organizations

More than half of small businesses do not have any earthquake preparation in place. Consequently, many small businesses do not reopen after large-scale disasters. Let’s evaluate how small businesses and large organizations alike can use similar methods to prepare for a catastrophe.

Secure Insurance

Each organization should secure insurance to cover any losses to the business in the event of a disaster. It would be beneficial to review your insurance policy page by page to familiarize yourself with what insurance will provide during an earthquake and what is required of your organization. Large or small, good insurance can provide security to your organization during and after a disaster.

Keep Financial Documents Up-to-Date

When a disaster occurs, there may be structural and physical damage that your organization may need to cover. In order to do this quickly and effectively, loans may need to be applied for. Keeping financial documents up-to-date and easily accessible in case of emergency can help this process go smoothly and expedite the reopening of locations or offices.

Detailed Inventory

In case of damage to your organization and the need to file insurance claims, compile a detailed inventory of all equipment or products you have on hand. Keeping this updated regularly will alleviate the stress of trying to accurately detail this information for the insurance company after the disaster.

Contact Information

In case of an earthquake, the contact information for employees and vendors should be easily accessible so you are able to reach employees and staff. This can be as simple as a paper for each manager or a cloud server that’s accessible offsite. For smaller organizations, a paper phone tree might be sufficient, while a google doc with necessary names and contact information might be more prudent for a larger organization. Save your company the headache of dealing with this during the earthquake by preparing it beforehand.

Emergency Response

As reviewed above, an emergency plan is critical for an organization’s earthquake preparation. The way you respond to the disaster can make or break your company. Put time into preparation to create your emergency response, including all the items already discussed. During the disaster, you can “activate” this emergency response plan. After the disaster, you should assess the damage and focus on rebuilding.

Post-Earthquake Tips for Reopening Your Business

Preparedness before and during an earthquake will set your organization up for success after the earthquake. Let’s go over a few tips to embrace reopening your business.

Tip 1: Act Fast

If there is damage to your current location, securing a new location for your employees to complete their work is critical. This could be offering work-from-home options or providing a temporary workplace for employees. This will help mitigate lost revenue and start your employees back to work more quickly.

Tip 2: Reinvention May Happen

It’s often said that tragedy and opportunity go hand in hand and this is true after an earthquake. The destruction can provide a new opportunity to rebuild your organization, both and organizationally through marketing. Relaunch or reinvent your brand. Take time to focus on the day-to-day operations and grow with your employees and business.

Tip 3: Stay Focused

Inevitably, the road following an earthquake will not be easy. Focusing on the big-ticket items in reopening will keep the little things from dragging you down. Organizations that rebuild together often find success that transcends just recovering from the tragedy.

Tip 4: Celebrate the Change

Go big with a reopening for your customers and employees in a way that fits your company. Allow the community to surround your organization with support and excitement as you move forward after the earthquake to a new normal. Don’t hide from the difficult transitions you and your employees are in. Encouraging support and strength after the disaster will help ease the changes for all.

Take care of your people and protect your business

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Earthquakes

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has requirements on this for both non-exempt and exempt employees. Non-exempt employees are only required to be paid for hours worked, so the employer is not required to pay these employees if they are unable to work due to the earthquake. Exempt employees must be paid full salary if the worksite is closed due to the earthquake for less than a full workweek. However, your organization can require these employees to use PTO for the time during or after the earthquake.
Your organization may be required to follow seismic building codes depending on location. Outside of those structural laws, follow the FLSA laws regarding natural disasters in case of earthquakes.

Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department “of one”, working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!

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