Businesses can do much to prepare for the impact of the many hazards they face in today’s world including natural hazards like floods, utility disruptions and fire.  Preparedness is the responsibility of both employers and employees.



Emergencies can happen at any place and at any time. This preparedness guide, Get Emergency Ready at Work, addresses the most common emergency situations, including:

  • procedures for fire alarms
  • lockdown situations
  • active attackers
  • medical emergencies
  • receipt of suspicious packages or threatening communications.

While this guide could not possibly address every emergency situation that could occur, it aims to provide response procedures that can accommodate various situations, such as those listed above. It does not replace existing emergency plans and procedures, including fire safety plans, but should be considered in conjunction with those documents.

The Guide to Business Continuity Planning is intended to provide organizations with general information to assist in preparing business continuity and disaster recovery plans.

Planning to ensure the continued availability of essential services, programs and operations, including the resources involved, prepares an organization to act in response to an interruption of essential business services and provides guidelines for the recovery of operations, programs and services.  Business Continuity Planning is sometimes called “disaster recovery planning” or “contingency planning.” The BCP process should answer two questions, “What could go wrong?” (called a risk analysis), and “If something went wrong, how would it affect our business?” (called a business impact analysis). Answering these questions helps to determine continuity and recovery strategies which should be recorded (physically and/or electronically) as part of your continuity plan and should be reviewed and tested at least once per year.

What is Continuity Planning?

Continuity Planning is an effort within individual organizations/businesses to ensure that essential functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies.

Benefits of Continuity Planning

  • Ensure continued performance of essential functions
  • Reduce or mitigate disruptions to operations
  • Achieve a timely and orderly recovery
  • Resume full service to customers
  • Ensure succession if agency leadership is disrupted
  • Protect essential facilities and resources

How does your business function, both internally and externally?

Advance planning can greatly improve how quickly your company can get back to business after an emergency event. Natural disasters can inflict huge losses on businesses. Property damage and lost revenue resulting from an emergency event present a major threat to the survival of your business and the well-being of your organization and its employees.

The U.S. Insurance Institute for Property Loss Reduction estimates that 50 percent of businesses that suffer major disasters are unable to resume operations. Start planning now to improve your organizations chance of survival.

Simply ‘hoping for the best’ is not a plan.

  1. Which staff, materials, procedures and equipment are essential for keeping your business operating?
    • Review your business processes
    • Identify activities that are essential for business survival and recovery.
    • Establish emergency payroll, financial decision-making and accounting systems to document costs and track expenses during an emergency
    • Develop a succession management plan to clearly indicate a command hierarchy in the event of an emergency. If possible, identify a least one individual who is not based at your business headquarters
  2. Who are your suppliers and other businesses you work with on a daily basis?
    • If your primary supplier or resource is unable to meet your needs due to an emergency, the result can be devastating to your operation. When possible, develop relationships with more than one supplier / resource
    • In an emergency you may need to access other critical suppliers and contractors. Develop a database of contact information for organizations you may need to call upon. This information should be kept with other important documents, in your emergency kit and at an off-site location. Internet based document creation services may be a practical way to store non-confidential information which can be accessed from any Internet connection
  3. If your workplace becomes inaccessible, what’s your plan? Developing a continuity of operations plan (COOP) is essential to your organization’s health.
    • Are you able to run the business from a different location or from your home?
    • You may be able to develop a working relationship with another organization for temporary space at their facility in the event of disaster (reciprocal agreement)
    • Your COOP need not be overly complicated ‚ just an identification of all the critical operations and planning for backups for these operations
    • As part of this planning, ensure you consider payroll continuity, employee work locations, varying lengths of time that you may be displaced (1 day, 1 week, 1 month etc.)
  4. Convene a core team to develop your emergency plan.
    • Include colleagues from all levels of the organization to actively participate in putting together your plan
    • A broad mix of people from across your organization should be considered but they should also have expertise related to the vital functions of the daily business operations
    • Have your plan define crisis / emergency procedures and the individual responsibilities everyone would have in an emergency situation
  5. Train everyone.
    • No plan is of any use unless everyone knows what is in it and what their role is during an emergency‚ make sure everyone has a general understanding of the plan and knows what they’re supposed to do
    • Provide more in-depth training to key staff in case your core team requires back-up assistance
  6. Work with other organizations.
    • Emergency planning is one area or work where competitive business interests should come into play – meet with other businesses in your building or in close proximity to you to share emergency preparedness information
    • Share your plans and encourage other businesses to develop and share their own COOPs
  7. Review your plans annually.
    • Business operations change over time and as a result your plans need to change as well.  With new employees being hired or structural changes being implemented, there is an ongoing need to ensure your plans are updated accordingly and everyone is informed of the changes

Some Continuity Challenges

  • Obtaining and maintaining executive buy-in
  • Insufficient resources, such as financial and staff
  • Lack of disaster recovery infrastructure
  • Reliance on supporting organizations
  • Building an adequate back-up facility
  • Spreading the word – communicating your continuity mission throughout your organization
  • Exercising your plan