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Reducing Hazards Before Disaster Strikes

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30 October 2008 No Comment

by Judy K. Bell, CEM

Disaster Survival Planning Network

How effective is the hazard reduction program in your organization? Most groups discover that they haven’t maintained their program after the latest earthquake. Then everyone scrambles to order more securing devices that may or may not actually get installed, depending on the amount of time that lapses between the last shaker, the funding request, and the maintenance crew’s workload.

How can you break this cycle? Make your hazard reduction program a part of your ongoing Injury and Illness Prevention Program. In California, all organizations are required by law to establish and maintain periodic safety hazard checklists of the work environment. Why not incorporate your earthquake hazards checklist into this program? Below are seven easy steps your organization can do to create an effective ongoing hazards reduction program.

Step 1. Form a task force of key personnel from each group in your organization to identify the hazards in their own environment. Non-structural earthquake hazards checklists are available through FEMA or your state Office of Emergency Services. Encourage two or three people survey an area together; it’s easier to spot hazards and discuss their implications.

Step 2. Engage the services of a safety fastening company to assist in determining the proper fastening products for your hazards. (Some companies will even perform step 1 for you for a modest fee.)

Step 3. Prepare a project proposal that addresses all restraints that are considered necessary for business resumption. Safety fastening firms will work with you to provide a cost estimate for the proper restraining devices.

Step 4. Obtain approval and funding for the project, picking a realistic timeframe for purchasing the devices, designing unique restraints, and implementing the program. Budget limitations may require you to design a program over more than one year, depending on the size of your organization.

Step 5. Pick one organization to be responsible for overseeing the installation of the restraining devices and coordinating the project with all other groups.

Step 6. Develop an ongoing program to ensure restraint devices are checked regularly. Incorporate this program into ongoing safety reviews and safety committee activities required by law in your Injury and Illness Protection Program. (Most organizations require quarterly safety reviews.)

Step 7. If safety reviews are not already a part of your organization’s performance objectives, build them in. Make earthquake safety a high priority for your group.

Remember, the life you save may be your own!

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