Four Things Facility Managers Need to Do to Prepare for the Next Big Earthquake
Earthquakes are a fact of life in California and Facility Managers need to be prepared for the probability that a major one will happen in the near future. Here are four key steps you need to take in order to get your facility ready for the inevitable seismic event:
1. Practice Your Earthquake Response
Most of the people who live in earthquake country know what you should do when you feel an earthquake coming on: DROP onto your hands and knees, COVER yourself underneath a sturdy table or desk, and HOLD ON to it with one hand and be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts.
It’s also important for companies to do earthquake drills quarterly or every six months so that all your employees understand your company’s specific emergency response plan. This includes identifying places in the office where you can take cover during the earthquake, evacuating the building when the shaking has ended, and meeting the group at the predefined assembly point.
2. Make Sure Your Company’s Supervisors Know Their Roles
Supervisors should have specific roles in case of an earthquake, whether it’s evacuating a specific area of the facility and ensuring that everyone is accounted for or ensuring that records of high-value assets are kept in a safe place. It’s also important to make sure that company leaders have all the up-to-date information and credentials they need to perform their role, such as a current floor plan to show where everyone is seated or cardkeys/PIN numbers needed to access certain areas of the facility. There should also be an ongoing communications process to go over any changes and ensure that everyone is still able to fulfill their role.
3. Identify Mission-Critical Systems
Facility Managers also need to inspect and analyze the potential vulnerabilities of mission-critical business systems, such HVAC, plumbing, data systems, electrical, communications equipment, and infrastructure. Cost effective measures can then be discussed to avoid downtime, such as a backup generator in the event of a massive power outage or the installation of an overhead fire suppression system in a server room. Critical data should be preserved through off-site backups or cloud storage.
Since transportation systems may be down and people may be stranded at work for an extended period of time, each workplace needs to maintain a large enough emergency kit to support everyone for a few days. It should include items such as drinking water in bottles or tanks, non-perishable food, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, and a fully-stocked first aid kit. Also encourage your employees to create personal kits with changes of clothes and other personal items.
While worker safety should always be the primary consideration, the plan should also itemize and identify opportunities to mitigating damage to high-value assets. An Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) platform can track assets and potentially facilitate insurance claims in case of a large earthquake. Action plans should be put into place to protect computers, printers, servers, furniture, and other assets in case of a major earthquake or other catastrophe.
Items that would be vulnerable in an earthquake should be secured with heavy-duty hardware and tethers, including filing cabinets and shelves, large light fixtures, loose electronic devices, and heavy items on the wall. Securing these items protects not only your equipment, but also your employees.
Your company’s entire emergency response plan should reassessed on a quarterly basis (or sooner, if necessary) to ensure that your team is prepared whenever the inevitable moment comes.
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