Controlling Winter Weather's Impact on the Workplace

A worker safety consulting firm explains how companies can avoid being paralyzed by relentless winter storms.

Companies paralyzed by plummeting temperatures and relentless winter storms across much of the United States can take steps to ensure that harsh weather dosesn't spell business disaster.

CCH Inc., a provider of worker safety and employment law information, said it is possible to protect your business before mother nature strikes again.

"While severe weather of any kind presents special workplace challenges, companies can help ensure they are not blindsided by bad weather if they follow some simple steps," said Nancy Kaylor, CCH workplace analyst. "The first, and most important step, is developing a checklist for an emergency contingency plan."

Although each company should tailor a plan to fit its specific needs, the steps that companies should follow in developing an effective emergency contingency plan are the same.

Organize a dedicated group. Establish a committee of members from each significant part of the business.

Plan for the worst possible scenarios. Have each member assume the worst and list emergency situations that could affect the organization and employees. Identify items that are of most importance to continuing the business.

Identify internal alternatives. For items most important to the business, determine if there were alternatives that could have been pursued before the disaster to avoid total lost. For example, maintain duplicate records at a different site.

Verify external alternatives, contingencies and insurance.

In addition to planning alternatives, committee members should include the following in their emergency planning efforts.

  • Specify under what circumstances a facility will be closed, who makes the decision, how the decision is communicated and whether the employees will be compensated.
  • Establish emergency call-in numbers for employees.
  • Coordinate contingency planning with other safety and workplace violence planning. Don't reinvent the wheel.
  • If your company operates 24 hours a day or provides critical services, determine the plan for alternative electricity, water storage and other routine public services.
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