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Emergency and continuity planning

Putting time into planning for emergencies makes good business sense — it helps keep staff safe and minimises downtimes. It’s also a legal responsibility. 

You can combine an emergency plan and a continuity plan into a single file. However, there’s nothing to say these have to be written down.

Scale your plan to your business. A two-person business may decide to meet at the school close to work if an emergency happens. If your business is bigger or more complex, you’ll probably need more structured systems in place.

Don’t let your plans gather dust on a shelf.

Don’t let your plans gather dust on a shelf.

Emergency planning

Being prepared for an emergency or disaster can:

  • save lives and prevent harm
  • help businesses to continue trading through hardship
  • give staff and owners confidence
  • protect equipment and premises
  • quickly get businesses running again.

No one expects you to be able to plan for every kind of emergency. But depending on your industry, you should have a good idea of risks you face at work.

Read our guide on how to assess risk for more information. The knowledge you get from this assessment can form the basis of an emergency plan.

Shut Happens: Resilience guide for small business (external link)  has information on how to prepare your business for an emergency — Resilient Organisations.

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Case study

Team plan

A small factory runs a staff workshop to assess the most likely risks of an emergency in their workplace.

The factory uses heavy machinery and chemicals, so the team decides to include strategies for dealing with electrical fires and chemical spills in its emergency plan.

What makes a good plan

A good emergency plan should include:

  • how to evacuate your work
  • where your people should assemble
  • a list of every name to account for
  • how to shut off utilities, eg gas and electricity
  • a list of who knows first aid
  • a list of important phone numbers
  • emergency supplies and first aid kit.

How to be prepared at work (external link) — Civil Defence.

To make plans that will work, get staff input and drill your procedures regularly.

To make plans that will work, get staff input and drill your procedures regularly.

Business continuity planning

Knowing what to do after an emergency is also important for your business. A business continuity plan (BCP) covers any event that could affect business operations, eg interrupted supplies, loss or damaged equipment or computers or major technology outage.

A plan should include:

  • a description of activities and procedures that need to happen
  • a list of staff involved and their contact details
  • an outline of each person’s role in getting the business back on its feet
  • a list of relevant contacts, eg emergency services, clients, suppliers and your insurance company
  • a timeline and checklist of recovery processes.

Prepare your business (external link) has advice on preparing for disasters.

Get Ready Get Thru (external link) — Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management

Have you prepared a business continuity plan for your business?

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