Australia and New Zealand are rated among the best places in the world to live. We have ample opportunities to work, a low unemployment rate and beautiful natural environments. But, we are not strangers to natural disasters.

The frequency and the severity of natural disasters have been on the rise across Australasia. In the coming years, it has been predicted that there will be volcanic eruptions, an increased number of cyclones, and more storms, floods, heat waves and bushfires than ever before.

When a disaster strikes, the first thing that comes to your mind is the health and safety of your loved ones. But, as a business owner, you also have a duty of care for your employees. Extreme weather events can cause havoc to your business; you don’t have the luxury of just hoping it won’t affect you or your staff.

It is not just the immediate damage from the impact of natural disasters, but also the flow-on impacts such as communication interruptions, power outages and transport, that can affect your business.

Preparing for disasters requires the combined efforts of internal and external stakeholders. You cannot stop natural disasters from occurring but you can take proactive, preventive measures to reduce their impact and to save lives and assets.

Handle the basics first

Employees are your most important and valuable asset; they need to be your priority. You should include employees from all levels in developing an emergency management plan. Planning for disasters is much more than backing up data and fire drills.

The employees should be made aware of some basic components of the emergency plan, including:

  • Methods used to report emergencies
  • Evacuation plans and routes for your workplace
  • Procedures that specified employees need to follow before and during an evacuation
  • Accounting for all employees after they leave the facility, as well as those in the field
  • Documentation of specific duties assigned to each employee
  • A contact method for all employees to enable check-in.

Employees need access to communication devices so they can coordinate tasks, keep one another informed of the situation and maintain safety across the organisation. Your employees need to be confident that they have communication methods they can rely on.

Use of emergency safety and communication devices

During an emergency, communication is vital to direct rescue teams to the right location if they are required, for lone employees in the field or office-based staff.

Following a disaster, emergency responders aim to prevent further loss of life and minimise the damage to property and infrastructure. It is essential that the rescue workers, utility providers, infrastructure services, local council and the general public can coordinate their efforts. You can reduce the burden on emergency services by proactively locating your employees through personal safety and tracking devices and checking their location and well-being.

Personal safety devices can be very effective in situations where a few minutes’ delay could mean the difference between life and death for those in need of rescue.

You may already track your business vehicles to improve productivity and/or utilisation. In an emergency, real-time tracking can have the added benefit of effective staff co-ordination and dispatch, which will greatly assist any recovery or disaster management operation.

Telematics, GPS tracking and location technologies can play an essential role in safety and provide advanced assistance systems to support staff. In the digital age, there is no reason your remote employees should be left out of the loop when a disaster strikes.

No-one is immune to disasters, but your organisation can prepare for them and limit their impact. How quickly your company recovers after a disaster will depend on the emergency planning that you do today. Smartrak is a leading Australasian telematics organisation, offering a wide range of location-based, intelligent solutions covering vehicles, people and assets. If you have not already worked on your disaster recovery plans, then today is the day to start and Smartrak can help.