Preparing for the Unpredictable: Part 3

Posted: 11/8/17

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Natural Disaster Series: Business Continuity Plan 

In the first part of this series, we shared three initial steps you can take to begin your natural disaster preparation plan. Part 2 introduced three key plans that can help you, your employees, and your facility quickly respond to an impending natural disaster. Here in Part 3, you will review the basics of preparing a Business Continuity Plan, including preparing for the elevated waste disposal needs that typically follow a natural disaster.

A business continuity plan helps you to be prepared to deal with the aftermath of a natural disaster. One initial concern is identifying an alternative location from where you can conduct administrative functions after a natural disaster. From there you can be in contact with emergency agencies, employees, customers, and suppliers. You will need to maintain an up-to-date list of contact information for those people and businesses and include it in the off-site backup that was discussed in Part 1.

To enable your business to stay operational or get back online, you need to evaluate potential supply chain issues. Your suppliers are a key part of your business operations. Disruption in your supply chain can stall your own recovery. For example, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 affected an estimated 10,000 manufacturing facilities, many of which were not heavily damaged but were forced to temporarily suspend operations due to supply chain disruptions. Prepare for this potential business impact by asking the following questions ahead of time: For each supplier, how long could you go without their supplies or services? What alternative suppliers could you use? Can you inventory a surplus of key products in advance?

The volume of debris and wastes that can be generated by a natural disaster is staggering. Hurricane Andrew generated more than 43 million cubic yards of debris, and the Joplin, Missouri tornado generated more than 1.5 million cubic yards. Although not on the same scale as these regional numbers, your business will undoubtedly need to prepare for out-of-the-ordinary waste disposal needs following a natural disaster. In addition to construction and demolition-like debris, you may have equipment that could release special wastes when damaged—materials such as hydraulic fluid, PCB-containing materials, lead acids, and so forth. Plan ahead by coordinating with your preferred waste disposal provider about post-natural disaster communications, potential waste types and volumes, and other facility-specific issues.

These important topics and more are discussed in the “Business Continuity Toolkit” available from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS). The toolkit walks you through the following steps in plan development:

  • – Know Your Risks
  • – Know Your Operations
  • – Know Your Employees
  • – Know Your Key Customers, Contacts, Suppliers, and Vendors
  • – Know Your Information Technology
  • – Know Your Finances
  • – Know When to Update Your Plan
  • – Know When to Test Your Plan

Although the toolkit states that it is particularly useful for small businesses, it can easily be expanded upon to meet the needs of larger operations. You can download the entire toolkit in pdf format, and the toolkit’s forms in customizable format, at this webpage:

We hope this information helps you get started on your preparations for potential natural disasters. If you would like to talk to us about facility-specific strategies, please contact us via our website at or call 877-436-8778. Heritage is here to help you succeed, no matter what Mother Nature may throw at you!

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