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When disaster strikes, how can you keep your staff safe?

Posted on 4th October 2019 at 14:55pm

Dangerous events can take place at any time and are often unpredictable, making them a huge threat to your staff. In this blog post, Alan Coulter of StaySafe explores why a crisis is inevitable, what you can do to prepare and how to minimise the risk to your staff.

It is important for organisations to plan ahead when considering crisis management. Staff safety should be paramount. Image: inueng|123rf

Price Waterhouse Cooper’s (PwC) recent Global Crisis Survey 2019 revealed that 69 per cent of businesses have experienced some type of crisis in the last five years and 95 per cent have predicted that they will experience a crisis in the near future.

PwC surveyed 2,000 companies across 25 industries in 43 countries and found that organisations that took crucial crisis preparation steps fared far better in an emergency than those that did not.

You are likely to be hit by a crisis - no matter how big you are

According to the survey, a crisis is defined as something that is: “Triggered by significant internal and/or external factors, has an enterprise-wide effect, creates disruption in normal business operations and has the potential for reputational harm/damage.” Crisis can affect companies of any size, however the larger you are, the more likely you are to be at risk. Businesses with more than 5,000 employees are more likely to have experienced more than five crises – with an average of one per year. Whether you have ten employees or 10,000, it’s crucial that you prepare your staff for the worst case scenario.

Businesses must consider the threat of terror attacks

In recent years, terror attacks have become a growing threat across the globe. In 2017, London was struck by a series of incidents, including the London Bridge attacks, in which eight people were killed and a further 48 injured. Similarly, New Zealand was targeted by two shooting attacks earlier this year at mosques in Christchurch with fifty-two people killed during the two incidents. In 2018, 441 people were held on suspicion of terrorism-related activity, an increase of 17 per cent on the previous year. With the current UK terror threat level at severe, companies must consider that their employees may be at risk when commuting to and from the office.

Natural disasters are on the rise

Natural disasters occur in a number of countries and their aftermaths are often devastating. The survey showed that natural disasters were the seventh most disruptive crisis amongst companies, with the US businesses ranking them as the most disruptive crisis. In 2018, the USA spent an estimated US$91 billion on natural disaster damages. As the globe becomes increasingly warmer, natural disasters are becoming more frequent and unpredictable. Employees working in danger zones may find themselves in compromising situations without a way to signal for help or alert management of their safety. With this in mind, companies need to consider carefully how they can prepare for a large scale incident.

What you need to have in place to survive a crisis

Companies are under increasing pressure to protect their staff during critical events, such as terror attacks and natural disasters, but this can be challenging. The law states that employers are required to protect the health, safety and welfare of all employees, as far as is reasonably practicable.

Yet data taken from the PwC survey, showed that while 87 per cent of respondents agreed on the importance of having all the facts surrounding a crisis, four out of ten admitted they didn't have the required information to implement an appropriate response plan. Similarly, one-quarter of all companies acknowledged that they did not communicate effectively during their most serious crisis.

When an incident occurs, it is vital for companies to have clear instructions regarding individual roles and responsibilities. Having appropriate safety procedures in place helps both staff and management understand the steps to be taken in an emergency. Without clear information outlining the incident and the steps to be taken afterwards, employees within the company will not be able to act effectively. This is particularly evident in PwC’s research; 54 per cent of respondents that had initiated a crisis response plan fared better post-crisis than those who didn't.

How you can ensure your staff are safe in a crisis

One of the main safety challenges companies face during an incident is understanding the whereabouts of their staff. Traditional cascade communications are unreliable and time consuming, particularly in large organisations. Human error can also come into play, as many staff will not regularly keep their diaries up to date. Furthermore, it is simply not practical to call every employee in a large organisation.

Fortunately, due to the prevalence of smartphone use, businesses have a growing number of options available to them. Cutting-edge technology makes locating and communicating with employees much easier and helps segment those at risk from those who are safe.

IncidentEye is proud to offer a solution that offers reassurance when disaster strikes. An easy to use tech-based solution, IncidentEye allows organisations to immediately identify who is in the vicinity of an incident and prompt employees to specify whether they are safe or in danger.

The app and monitoring service makes it easy to send tailored communications to those at risk, without disrupting the majority who are not affected by the incident. IncidentEye’s disaster response technology ensures that when crisis strikes, businesses are equipped to handle the situation quickly and effectively.

For more information on IncidentEye and to book a free demo, visit the website.

This blog was sponsored by StaySafe. For more information about sponsored blogs, please contact claire@crisis-response.com

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