Emergency Preparedness, Safety, Sustainability/Business Continuity

Planning for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity at Facilities

Following the tragedy and carnage recently caused by Hurricane Ian, facilities managers everywhere are asking how they can be prepared for future natural disasters.

Norman Campbell, Federal Team Manager at Go Electric, recently hosted the Facilities Management Advisor webinar “What Could Go Wrong? Evaluating Facility Risks for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity,” sponsored by Avetta and TMA Systems. In addition to natural disasters, the webinar covered other dangers like civil unrest and supply chain issues. Below are some key tips from the event.

Facility Assessments

Specific facility safety assessments include:

  • Electricity – Power generators should be tested before power outages. Generators should be exercised with a full load to ensure they can properly function. To learn more about power outages, please read “Back to Basics: Preparing Your Facility for Power Outages.”
  • Water – If water is no longer available, consider how wastewater could be treated and moved. Determine whether just non-potable water, safe for flushing toilets, will be satisfactory or whether potable water, which is safe for human consumption, is also needed.
  • Natural Gas, Diesel, or Propane – If your facility depends on these for energy and they are not available, consider other alternatives. Those who use natural gas should consider propane options. As for laboratory environments, define what needs the facility has and how to best meet them.
  • Health/Safety – This is becoming more important to businesses considering COVID-19. Ensure indoor air quality standards are met for confined spaces, such as offices, so that workers can be safe.

Specific business continuity facility assessments include:

  • Information Technology – Provide a backup power supply when computers go down. Also, determine how to process work manually and move that work onto IT systems as soon as they come back online.
  • Logistics – If there are weather-related road closures, have the workforce work from home, if possible.
  • Customer Service – Customers likely still want their products and services, so try to figure out ways to take care of them during emergencies.

Gaming

Facilities managers should utilize gaming, which is a thought exercise. To do this, they should, with leadership’s support, consider all the “what if’s.” Numerous scenarios can be created, tabletop exercises can be practiced, and possible weak spots, or gaps, can be identified in order of importance, and then plans can be adapted.

ALSO READ: Back to Basics: Preparing Your Facility for Hurricanes

When facilities professionals create a plan, dry-run tests can be performed. These dry runs are designed to emulate emergencies. Those involved should include management, employees, vendors, first responders, and other corporate divisions.

Communication

It’s important to communicate plans with employees through newsletters, e-mails, and in-person meetings so that everyone can be on the same page.

Now is the time for proper emergency planning for your facility whether you already have a full-scale plan or have no plan at all. The future of your business and safety of building occupants could depend on your ability to plan ahead in the present. To learn more, be sure to check out the full webinar by clicking here.