HR Support on Natural Disaster Preparedness in the Workplace

Editor's Note: Prepare the workplace for Mother Nature.

Melissa BoyceOverview: Natural disasters are outside of an employer's control. What an employer can control is how prepared it is to deal with a hurricane, a blizzard, a tornado or any other act of nature that affects the workplace. Employers should create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and train employees on it before anything actually happens.

Employers should identify the types of natural disasters that are likely to affect the workplace. An employer in Kansas might not need a plan to respond to a volcano, for example, where a Hawaiian employer might. While it is good to be prepared for anything, and a good EAP will be flexible enough to deal with the unexpected, the plan should focus on what is most likely to occur.

Once a risk analysis has been completed, employers can create an EAP and secure its facilities, information and systems. The workplace should also be drilled to test the plan and to make sure that employees know what to do when nature strikes.

Trends: Technology makes it easier to deal with a natural disaster. An employer can store important information off-site (such as in "the cloud"), and employees can be set up to telecommute.

Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor

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HR guidance on preparing for and responding to natural disasters.