According to Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong and this holds true on the construction job site. With different factors to consider, including unforeseeable circumstances, preparation for disasters is paramount. Without sufficient disaster preparedness, a catastrophic event can severely impact not just your business but also the safety of your employees.
Here are five disaster preparedness strategies you need to employ construction sites.
1. Identify worst-case scenarios.
When developing emergency response plans, it is important to strategize based on the worst thing that could happen to a construction site. For example, are there nearby fault lines that can cause earthquake damage to the site? Are there fire hazards or chemicals that can spill and cause injuries? Is the area prone to flooding in the event of a hurricane?
For each of these potential scenarios, a construction company should determine which situation they are most vulnerable to. In addition, the degree of probability that the scenario will occur should also be identified. And finally, the company should also note the impact of the scenario to the company should it occur.
2. Develop an emergency preparedness checklist.
Creating a disaster preparedness checklist will help companies organize their emergency response plan. On this checklist, companies should identify areas on the construction site that need protection. These should include cranes, heavy equipment, generators, and other tools that may be affected by extreme weather conditions like hurricanes and earthquakes
The checklist should also assign specific instructions to key individuals in the event of a disaster. These should establish the responsibilities they need to take as well as the flow of communication and decision-making.
3. Train employees in disaster preparedness.
Employees are some of the key members in formulating a disaster preparedness strategy. As such, they should be included in the planning phase. Employees offer valuable insight in terms of potential hazards on the job site and how they might occur.
Employees should be briefed on the disaster preparedness plan, including evacuation procedures, emergency contacts, and the use of emergency equipment. The company should conduct regular disaster preparedness seminars to educate employees about potential disasters and the protocols that should be followed when they occur. This training should be reinforced with practice drills to ensure all employees are prepared.
Invite relevant organizations and authorities who can share valuable tips with the company. For instance, the company can invite the local fire authorities to speak about fire prevention, employee evacuation in case of fire, and identifying factors that can cause and accelerate a fire accident.
4. Tailor emergency plan to a specific job site.
Maintaining an emergency plan is a continuous process. There will always be changes in the workplace, including new materials and equipment, a new construction layout, and even new people in the workforce. While there will be similarities across different construction projects, these constant changes require companies to revisit and update the disaster plan accordingly. If possible, the emergency plan should be updated to fit the circumstances of a specific construction project.
5. Establish a command post.
It is important to have a central command post where all lines of communication and decision-making can be referred to in case of a disaster. This command post should be located in an area that will not be affected by the emergency.
The command post should have sufficient communications equipment as well as reference materials that are vital in addressing the emergency. These include the emergency plan, site layouts and blueprints, a list of employees and their contact information, and backup power. A key person should be assigned to the command post as a primary point of contact in the event of an emergency.
Disasters may be unpredictable, but companies can lessen the impact of these emergencies through preparedness and proper planning. All construction companies should understand the risks of these events and the appropriate response so they can operate knowing that they are well-prepared.
About the Author:
Chris Woodard is the Co-Founder of Handle, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and materials suppliers secure their lien rights and get paid faster by automating the collection process of unpaid construction invoices.