The 2015 hurricane season is upon us. So it is imperative that businesses with holdings in affected areas take precautionary measures against impending hurricanes. While we’ve discussed updates for hurricane cleanup crews in a previous post, it’s time to brush up on our hurricane safety and general know-how. Here are five essential hurricane preparedness tips that can help improve the safety of workers this season:
Areas Affected by Hurricanes
Knowledge is power in an emergency situation—and your understanding of hurricanes can help you plan accordingly. OSHA notes that a hurricane is a tropical cyclone with circulating air that has wind speeds of 74 mph or greater. In a serious hurricane situation, winds can exceed 155 mph. The regions that are most vulnerable to hurricanes include:
- The Gulf of Mexico
- The Atlantic Coast
- Southwestern US
If you live in these areas, you should have every precaution in place to prevent loss or damage to your business or workers. In addition to hurricane preparedness training, you need to have an evacuation plan established. Implement this training session prior to the start of every hurricane season, and incorporate hurricane preparedness in every new employee training platform.
If your workplace is located on the Atlantic Coast, you can expect hurricanes and tropical storms from June to November, with peak periods from August to October. For companies based on the Eastern Pacific Coast, the hurricane season runs from mid-May to November.
Hurricane / Storm Watches and Warnings
When there is a possibility of a hurricane or tropical storm in a particular area, a watch will be issued. On the other hand, if there’s actually a hurricane or tropical storm that is set to hit an area, then a warning will be issued. Watches and warnings for hurricanes are typically issued 24 hours ahead of severe weather conditions to give proper notice for evacuations and safety preparedness.
Provide the Right Equipment
According to OSHA, a business or a place of work needs to have emergency supply kits. Store these in shelter locations that are designated for employees. You need to have a:
- Basic disaster supply kit as determined by Ready.gov
- An emergency response plan for evacuations
- Emergency supplies as part of hurricane preparedness training
Establish an Evacuation Plan
Now that you are well-versed on hurricanes in general, it’s time to put a plan into action and promote your safety at work. An evacuation plan is highly recommended. You need to include the following in your plan:
- Weather conditions that must take place in order for the plan to go into effect
- A chain of command (who is in charge of the evacuation process)
- A list of emergency functions to take care of, along with the individuals who are responsible for each one
- Evacuation routes and exits, as well as specific procedures
- Procedures and systems for every type of person who might be involved(including customers, clients, and visitors)
- Safety equipment that must be provided by the personnel
Gather a safety team to create a cohesive evacuation plan and take a safety training program into consideration. This will give your group a chance to work out any kinks in the plan or program. For more workplace safety tips, always visit OSHAcampus.com!