Emergency Plans for Businesses

25 June 2012

Every business should be prepared for an emergency.

A Christchurch office wreaked by the 22 February 2011 earthquake - photo by Dr Richard Sharpe

A Christchurch office wreaked by the 22 February 2011 earthquake - photo by Dr Richard Sharpe

Making preparations now will give you confidence that you and your employees know what to do in an emergency and have the things you need on hand to carry out your plan and keep your business operating.

Here's what you can do:

  • Have an evacuation plan in place and ensure everyone understands how to get out of the building safely, and how your customers will get out. Fire safety regulations require every office or building to have an evacuation plan, which can be used in many types of emergencies.
  • Consider what emergencies you may be faced with and develop procedures to protect your staff and customers.
  • Identify internal hazards in your workplace and make it as safe as possible. Secure and brace filing cabinets, shelving and computers. Under health and safety legislation all businesses need to identify hazards and manage these to protect people in their workplaces.
  • Have civil defence supplies for staff, which should include food and water for up to three days.

The Council's Civil Defence Controller, Mike Mendonca, says the Christchurch earthquakes have shown how important it is for businesses to have a continuity plan.

"Many businesses in the CBD red zone couldn't go back into their offices to retrieve important information and equipment for weeks or months.

"You need to think about what's vital for keeping your business going if something similar were to happen to your business."

Business continuity planning involves identifying what you can't afford to lose - such as information, stock, premises, staff, equipment, finance, IT, procurement and the delivery of products and services - and planning how to maintain them.

"This could include gathering staff and customer contact information, identifying an alternative location you can operate from, and backing up key business information," says Mike.

Civil Defence has information on its website on how to prepare your business or workplace:

Civil Defence website

A widely used resource on business continuity is the Good Practice Guidelines issued by the Business Continuity Institute:

Good Practice Guidelines - Business Continuity Institute website