Facility Dude

The Top 3 Questions to Ask About Your Safety Plans

By Kate Donnelly
Nov 30, 2015

Safety and Risk Management

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Crisis planning is imperative for every facility. Keeping your facility and its occupants safe is top of mind for most facilities managers. Yet it's all too easy to make a cookie cutter safety plan that's not truly effective. Or, just as dangerous, some facility managers apply a set-it-and-forget-it mentality, thinking that once a plan is created it rarely needs to be updated.

Indeed, a survey by Burson-Marstellar found that while the vast majority of business leaders understand that they need a plan - just 51 percent of companies have one - only one-third of leaders are confident that the plan would be satisfactory in the face of a crisis.

How can you buck the trend and make sure your facility is fully prepared to bounce back from crisis? Consider these three key questions.

1. Is this plan accessible?

Posting a fire response plan in the stairwells won't do much good when occupants are streaming out of the building in response to a fire alarm.  Uploading a safety plan to the building's server renders it inaccessible in the face of a power outage. In reality, paper-based systems and narrow distribution channels are major barriers to the efficacy of your plan. Smartphones represent a modern solution to this persistent problem: A whopping 81 percent of users keep their phones near them at all times, and the majority check their phones several times per hour, according to a Gallup poll. Texts and push notifications make communication during a crisis immediate and seamless.

2. Is this plan customized?

How a mission-critical department reacts to a severe flood might be radically different than how a satellite department handles the crisis, as the cost of downtime and the interoperability of different parts of the facility will vary greatly. Rather than thinking of each potential crisis as one event that will impact the facility uniformly, consider how each area might customize how it works to prevent, plan and prepare to recover from the crisis.

3. When will this plan be updated?

Working with an outside vendor to create and maintain a emergency response system can be the most efficient and stress-free way of ensuring your emergency plans are up to date. But even if you've kept those responsibilities in-house, you'll want to make sure that every equipment upgrade, facility expansion or major staffing change is reflected in your plans. Also create periodic reminders to review and adjust the emergency plan so that it reflects the current facility and its most pressing risks. That's the best way to mitigate risks and recover quickly—and every minute of planning ahead of crisis can save you exponential time and recovery costs afterward. Keep in mind that any time the crisis plan is implemented or there's an emergency or incident (no matter how minor) at your facility, those events should be carefully tracked so that you can analyze larger trends and fine-tune your crisis plans for the future.

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