Monday, April 1, 2013

Environmental Impacts

Environmental Impacts

Planning for business continuity

We have been hearing for years about climate change and a warming planet and increased storm warnings: "Climate change is already with us. Scientific evidence shows that past emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) are already affecting the Earth's climate," stated in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Policy Brief February 2008. (as posted on This news has been ringing in our ears long before 2008; but have we really been listening?

Scientists are warning us and have for years that the weather is changing. A storm happens with its devastation and destruction and then it is gone, we clean up and we soon forget. Beyond the environmental climate the shadow of 9/11 is 10 years behind us and we have forgotten how devastating that day was and so easily fallen back to our old ways, or as the National Post said on September 6, 2011 "The United States has returned to its congenial pre-9/11 ways." We don't plan for these devastating events and then they are upon us unprepared. The weather is no different than the terrorist attacks they happen without much warning. (See Cover Story, page 8.)

What does this have to do with your business, you ask? Everything!

Without an emergency response or emergency action plan (often called a business continuity plan with the emergency response or action plan as an extension of the business continuity plan) your business will not as easily be able to survive or revive after a disaster occurs.

Emergencies and disasters can occur anytime, anyplace, without warning. By being prepared, you will be better able to act, minimizing the panic and confusion in the emergency situation and protect your workers. Emergencies and disasters influenced by outside sources such as weather or non-employees or other uncontrollable sources need to be addressed in your action planning process to ensure the safety of your workers and the continuance of your business.

For businesses that are able, set up for business continuity outside of the physical location - a satellite offices/locations, working from home, remote offices/locations, etc. If one location is down you can continue to work. If you server is backed up in multiple locations in multiple cities your data is backed up and you can continue to work but if it is in one location, you may be down for weeks, months or indefinitely.

Sample steps to take in the development of your Emergency Response Plan are: hazard identification/risk assessment; identification of emergency resources; development of your communication system; development of an administration plan; emergency response policy, procedure and program; communication of policy, procedures and program training; debriefing and post-traumatic stress procedure; rebuilding, restructuring, and regrouping (what that might entail if the business is partially or totally destroyed).

Accountability is important in the emergency response program you develop. Set up an Emergency Response Team. Ensure that your team is properly trained in their roles and responsibilities. Train all staff in emergency procedures.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act refers to emergency planning that is required for your workplace under certain jurisdictions; in Ontario, under Bill 168 Violence and Harassment, and in BC under OHSA 4.13-4.18; beyond that it is a good business practice to have a Business Continuity Plan in place.

Lynne Bard, BA (Honours), C.H.R.P., CES
Human Resources, Safety & Risk Management Experts
Taking the Complexity out of Compliance
Beyond Rewards Inc.
Phone: 519-821-7440
Cell: 519-830-7480

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