September is National Preparedness Month
Developing an emergency response or business continuity plan is good practice regardless of the size or scope of your operations. Here in the Midwest, a tornado can wreak havoc in the blink of an eye. In other locales, it could be a hurricane or an earthquake. Workplace violence and terrorist attacks are real threats. None of us is immune.
The purpose of an emergency response or business continuity plan is to help you get back on your feet as quickly and efficiently as possible. A good emergency response plan defines essential personnel, tools, equipment, supplies, locations, call lists, chain of command, and much more.
Developing this plan requires you to take a close look at your business model. What is the workflow? How are work functions completed? Who is involved and what materials are required to assure quality and compliance? We live in a mobile society and laptops and cloud-based software platforms greatly enhance our ability to carry on outside the traditional office. We still may require certain office equipment to fulfill our business obligations. What suppliers and resources will we need to contact in order to obtain the materials, supplies, and equipment we need?
What about shelter-in-place policies? Have you thought about emergency supplies? Would your organization have fresh water and emergency blankets available in the event of a catastrophic physical event? Would there be some emergency food supply? Are first aid kits available?
In addition to identifying the physical and logistical needs of the business, identify employees with special skills such as nursing or EMT qualifications, CPR training, or multi-lingual skills. Any special skill sets that may be helpful during limited operations should be identified.
There are many considerations in developing an emergency preparedness and business continuity plan, and the time to do so is before you find yourself in need.
Is your business prepared for a disaster? Check out this Disaster Recovery Guide from Telco for some great tips on how to protect your data and recover quickly from a crisis. Be prepared for disasters by drafting a thorough business continuity plan that addresses:
- Chain of command
- Call list of essential personnel
- Physical resources (equipment, supplies, triage resources, food)
- Master vendor and supply list, including reserve PO’s if needed
- Identification of personnel with special skills (bilingual, nursing or EMT credentials, notaries public, and other unique qualifications)
- Alternative response plans for various disasters (biological, natural, terrorism, etc.)
You cannot prepare for every scenario, but you can establish general protocols to help reduce the chaos that occurs post-event and aid your organization in a timely, organized recovery effort.
SAWMILLS POSE HIGH RISK OF WORKER INJURY
Unlike lumberyards, sawmills are more industrial in nature, and are considered one of the most hazardous occupations by OSHA. Logged timber is typically delivered on-site via flatbed trailer and stacked in a central intake location in the yard. Logs are then transferred via conveyors into the mill where the first stop is the debarker. Just like it sounds, this process removes the bark from the tree. The debarker is a heavy industrial machine with a spinning, grinder-like head that literally chips and grinds the bark off the outer edge of the log. Once debarked, logs are trimmed and fed across an industrial sized table saw with a 60-inch circular saw blade that cuts the debarked logs into boards. Finally, the cut lumber is graded for sale to the builder or lumberyard, whomever the customer may be. Scraps are run through a chipper and made into mulch product and sawdust is collected for resale to equestrian arenas.
The whole process is amazing. It is also high risk. Sawmill workers frequently suffer eye injuries, lacerations, and amputations. Noise exposures are high. Inhalation of sawdust is a constant respiratory exposures. Safety is critical and personal protective equipment is a must in this operation to protect hands, feet, eyes, and ears. Good housekeeping practices are critical to reduce trip hazards created by debris. Machine guarding becomes high priority in an industrial operation of this nature. One small mistake can result in immediate and irreparable harm or fatality.
Sawmills tend to be located in rural areas. Fire risk is high given the amount of wood, chips, and sawdust on site. Wiring can be a concern, as many sawmills have been in business for years and their electrical systems may or may not have been adequately updated throughout the years. Rural locations often have volunteer fire departments and these exposures tend to be located farther away from the responding station, contributing to their risk of fire. These factors make on-site fire protection even more important. Adequate extinguishers should be located throughout the facility, and employees should be trained on fire extinguisher operation. This environment is fraught with hazard. It is the employers’ responsibility, and both the employers’ and employees’ commitment to safety that assures these workers go home to their loved ones at the end of the day.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Email us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Multi-family properties face many unique perils. While property losses can be devastating, fatalities are a property owner’s worst case scenario, followed closely by injuries to children. Not only are the immediate losses devastating, but each of these perils can lead to extended business interruption, lengthy claims investigations, and costly litigation. Here, we’ll take a look at three potentially catastrophic perils facing the habitational property owner:
Fire may be the most destructive of all hazards, as it can wreak total devastation on property and lives. Even when “contained” to an area (a unit kitchen fire, for example), the water and smoke damage can permeate walls into adjacent units beside, above, and below the source of origin. Multi-family dwellings should take special precautions to protect their residents from fire. In addition to the obvious controls (smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting and exit signs), property owners should also give special attention to common laundry rooms, outdoor grilling policies, wood-burning fireplaces, space heaters, and smoking policies. You may not be able to eliminate the risk of fire, but there are many proactive steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a fire.
Pools present a unique set of hazards, and are especially dangerous to small children. In 2004, Congress determined drownings to be the second leading cause of death in children under the age of 14. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was amended in 2014 and provides very specific governance over pools. The Act maintains high standards for both pool equipment and access. Pool safety should always be a priority, and all swimming areas should be fully fenced and locked to prevent small children from entering these areas unnoticed.
- DOG BITE
Let me preface this section by telling you I am a lover of dogs. That said, statistics bear out the majority of serious, reported dog bite cases stem from a handful of breeds. Numerous studies and statistics are available at dogbite.org, and these studies reveal that Pitbulls were involved in 71% of all dog bite-related deaths. This statistic is more shocking when you realize that Pitbulls represent only 6% of the dog population nationwide. While dog bite fatalities are not prevalent (31 reported in 2016), 42% (13) of those cases were children under the age of nine.
I recall personally working a case in the early 2000s where a 3-year old girl was attacked by a dog. One of her ears was left hanging by a thread of skin. She received 103 stitches in her face. That’s a lot of stitches in a very small area, most of which were located on one side of her face, between her eye (orbital socket), across her cheek, and into her ear and hairline. This little girl was fortunate, even though she would go on to require multiple reconstructive surgeries.
The threat is real, and habitational property owners have a responsibility to all residents. Many property owners impose weight restrictions as opposed to breed restrictions, while others “interview” all pets and approve pets on a discretionary basis. You should still recognize the common list of vicious breeds, and know that not all dog bites are the result of large breeds – some lists include both the Chihuahua, the Dachshund, and other small breeds. These lists are not comprehensive, and any dog can bite.
One final tip: Know your local statute. Missouri imposes strict liability for dog owners under RSMo. 273.036. City ordinances vary, and you should familiarize yourself with local codes. Being aware of the law helps you protect your business while protecting your residents.
In addition to FEMA and other sources, there are a number of private companies who have responded (and are still responding) to Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters across the country. These companies are often small (in comparison), family-owned operations, but they make a huge impact. Operating their own equipment, and sometimes leasing additional heavy equipment at the destination site, these companies tackle the work of removing debris, downed trees, and opening roadways. They are a huge part of the recovery process.
So here’s to those who leave their homes and families for weeks on end, who live out of hotels and travel trailers, and who dig through the rubble and destruction to allow healing and progress to take place.
This is the heart of America.