The oxford dictionary defines natural disasters as a natural event such as a flood, earthquake, or hurricane that causes great damage or loss of life.
It is estimated that roughly 6,800 natural disasters take place every year around the globe. The number here has been a recent increase in natural disasters over the past few decades, as clearly evident with the current volcanic eruption in Congo and 47 volcanoes with continuing eruptions around the world, making it imperative that our facilities and employees are well-prepared to handle natural disasters.
Facilities managers are required to be prepared for everything. Still, an FM global study found out that most large corporations are ill-prepared for natural disasters. Still, there are several steps that facility leaders can take to help them ease the risk (death, accidents, financial loss) associated with natural disasters.
Know Your Disasters
Knowledge they say is power, so FM’s must be aware of what types of natural disasters are likely to occur where their facilities are located, stay informed and have the appropriate precautions in place for each location.
Eliezer Workplace Management Limited advocates creating a disaster preparedness plan preferably tailored to the natural disasters common in that area. In Nigeria, the most common natural disasters include floods, landslides and storms.
A disaster preparedness plan cannot be created efficiently without a proper understanding of what can happen or certain dangers that can occur at that facility.
Eliezer Workplace Management Limited believes organizations should allow the FM’s at their locations to work in conjunction with their insurance agent as the insurance agent can use catastrophe modelling to estimate the losses that could be sustained due to natural disasters, thereby highlighting and providing guidance on areas that should be adequately protected.
Disaster Preparedness Plan
The disaster preparedness plans, the first point of call should be intellectual assets protection. Today, information is the driving force of any organization and facility’s managers are responsible for a range of vital documents (Equipment manuals, blueprints, building plans, permits, and improvements) so they have been safely stored and readily available even in times of disaster.
Eliezer Workplace Management Limited recommends converting paper documents to digital as part of a disaster recovery plan and, if possible before a disaster strike, printing all important information in case of power outages and other service disruptions that may IT hamper recovery.
The plan should also include an emergency team like the list of vendors that might be needed in the aftermath of a disaster. By creating this list in advance, FM’s save time and money as they would have already agreed on rates and availability guarantees with the vendor.
The assembled team should know their designated job description, such as executing an evacuation, sending out emergency notifications and alerting occupants to any potential dangers or concerns, etc. hence the need for proper teams training and live testing of created plans.
Repair, Rebuild and Review
The worse is over the disaster has come and passed, so the next step is to check for hazards. This must be evaluated based on operations within that building, as employees who work at separate tasks at different locations within the same building may be exposed to different threats.
Once the evaluation is done, then FM’s can move ahead with the repairs. At this point, the list of vendors will become handy. FM’s should take note to do these repairs in accordance with regulations and policies to prevent worsening of the damage/situation.
It is essential that after a disaster that FM’s review their disaster plan and update it when necessary. The Review should address how quickly and thoroughly the disaster was contained and determine what improvements can be made.
Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to prevent natural disasters, but taking these steps before and after a natural disaster will be critical in reducing accidents, death and alleviating financial losses.
Although natural disasters will likely rise in the years to come, the risk to facilities doesn’t need to, so adequate readiness in handling natural disasters will make the return to business as usual after a disaster seamless.