Ed Campbell arrived at the plant less than 15 minutes after the first fire truck arrived. During the two hours it took to put out the flames, put out the hot spots and clear all the smoke, the plant manager wondered what was waiting for him inside. The workers of the second shift were busy in the parking lot – fortunately, none of them had been injured. It would take a few more hours before the fire inspector identified a faulty compressor as the cause.
When Ed contacted his boss, the first question was whether the factory would be able to meet its commitment to deliver the full load of components to its auto plant customer. Otherwise, the customer would lose a day of production. Ed wasn’t sure if he should call and tell the customer. He does not yet know the extent of the damage. He assumed there would be a substantial amount of cleaning and wondered how to do what needed to be done. The electric and gas companies had cut service, and Ed wasn’t sure what it would entail to restore it. He also didn’t know if he should fire the second team early.
Ed’s company had not developed an emergency catering program plan like many companies. They had fire alarms, fire extinguishers and everything needed to provide a safe exit, but hadn’t considered what it would take to reopen the plant even after a small fire – or a broken pipe, a flood, a tornado or one of dozens of other emergencies that could shut down the plant.
Elements of the restoration plan
An emergency recovery plan should consider the types of damage that could occur, the specific impacts it may have on the facility and operations, and the steps to be taken to recover from the emergency. The plan should specify who is responsible for each item and who should be contacted. If appropriate, the plan may include contingencies, such as having another facility step in and meet a client’s needs.
In Ed’s situation, the plan might include instructions on when and how to contact that big customer, as well as guidance on whether employees should stay at work. The program should also include training, so that key employees, such as shift supervisors, are aware of the program and understand their role in emergency situations.
In addition to making sure everyone knows what to do, developing a restoration plan can help you identify steps you can take to prevent emergencies or minimize their impact. For example, you may discover that critical documents are stored directly under fault-prone plumbing. Finding a safer place for these documents will reduce their chances of being destroyed.
Partner with a Restoration Contractor
While having an emergency restoration plan is essential, an equally valuable step is to develop an ongoing relationship with a professional restoration contractor before their help is needed. Choose one that can familiarize you with your business operations and create a contingency plan tailored to your needs.
Written by Robyn Garnet, Regional Claims Advocate Leader at Hylant, a private insurance brokerage firm that offers risk management, advisory and captive management, benefits brokerage and advisory, mergers and acquisitions and complex commercial transactions, and loss control. To discuss your risk management and insurance needs, contact Jack Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org), Market President, Hylant-Detroit.