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Health & Safety


Health & Safety

Risk Management Planning for Severe Weather: Are You Prepared?

by Amy Conway—Midwest Builders’ Casualty

Employers recognize that to prevent workers’ compensation claims, a risk management program is necessary to address the hazards of the workplace. But employers may be overlooking an uncontrollable factor – the weather. Recent outbreaks of severe weather across the Midwest have taken many by surprise, in some areas people have been seriously injured or killed. These outbreaks often occur with little warning. Any company without a properly designed crisis management program may be facing disaster when a storm strikes. With this in mind, now may be the time to review your company’s risk management programs and ensure that adequate emergency procedures are in place.

Begin by asking if a weather-related emergency occurs at your company, do you have a plan of action that enables you to respond appropriately and as quickly as possible? Are you prepared for multiple scenarios, such as tornadoes or flooding that could occur either at the office or on the jobsite? Does the plan treat all parties involved, including co-workers, witnesses, family member and the general public with diligence and respect? Is there any individual designated and trained to address the media and to provide an image that best reflects the company’s commitment to health and safety? If the answer to any of these questions is no, your company may be unprepared for a crisis.

Some key elements of a crisis management program include the following. Examples of specific items to consider are also listed.

  • Identification of Hazards and Risks: Is your work area prone to annual weather risks, such as tornadoes? Do current weather conditions pose an immediate risk, such as fire from drought and high winds?
  • Preparation: Does your jobsite have a weather radio or cold weather provisions like blankets?
  • Emergency Action Plan: Has your company identified evacuation routes and contacts for local law enforcement or other first responders?
  • Recovery Response: After the storm, can your company verify if an employee is missing? Can your company secure the jobsite to prevent hazard exposure?

There are many items to consider for each of these elements, more than are listed here. Because a crisis situation may affect numerous people and businesses in wide variety, select representatives from every department of your company to form a committee to help develop a comprehensive crisis management program. A committee provides multiple perspectives and offers solutions to address concerns from every aspect of a crisis scenario. Once the programs have been developed, it is paramount to train all employees and ensure that they are well-rehearsed in the emergency plan procedures.

If you would like to receive a written crisis management program, or need additional onsite assistance, please contact Midwest Builders’ Casualty loss control services: