Protect Your Printing Business with Severe Weather Preparedness
September is National Preparedness Month, and for good reason. Autumn often brings new threats of hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms, with severe winter weather not far behind. This year, with business as usual being anything but usual, it’s never been more important to plan for weather-related emergencies.
As national senior safety consultants for Sentry Insurance, we’ve helped businesses across the country plan for all types of weather emergencies. Along with advice and resources from OSHA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, these recommendations can help commercial printing and packaging businesses reevaluate their emergency action plans.
Evaluate early and often
Severe weather can be a catalyst for many secondary threats, such as fires and explosions. Printing and packaging facilities — filled with plastics, flammable liquids, and other flammable materials — can be particularly vulnerable to these hazards.
A well-considered plan requires thorough assessments unique to your printing business, including:
- Primary risks and response
- Types of severe weather you could face
- Responses you need to prepare
- Facility precautions for protecting employees
- Strategies for guiding employees out of your facility
- All exits — including secondary escape options
- Equipment that may pose potential obstacles
- The immediate surroundings of your facility, to ensure a safe and efficient exit
- How to immediately notify employees of an emergency
- Differentiated alarms to inform employees which safety steps to take
- How you’ll communicate to offsite employees, those with disabilities, or those left without power
Collaborate and communicate
Detail your emergency action plan in writing and make it easily available to all employees. Actively communicate your plan to make it even more effective.
- Designate an emergency coordinator to provide primary oversight of plan development
- Assign teams to ensure ownership, engagement, and planning support
- Inform staff on all shifts of emergency plans and how they will be alerted
- Train new employees on emergency action procedures as part of onboarding
Your emergency plan helps ensure all employees are fully prepared in the moments that matter.
- Conduct regular, timed emergency drills for each type of threat
- Ensure drills occur on every shift for around-the-clock safety
- Emergency response
- Always have first aid supplies, functional automated external defibrillator (AED) machines, and fire extinguishers readily available
- Consider inviting first responders to train at your facility to hone their skills—and familiarize them with your space
- Consistent upkeep
- Keep facilities clean and orderly to help avoid unanticipated obstacles, dangerous spills, or environmental pollutants
- Make preparedness checks part of managers’ regular inspections
- Ensure sprinkler and ventilation systems are up-to-date
There’s no better time to begin assessing — or developing — your business’s emergency action plan than National Preparedness Month. When it comes to the threat of severe weather, the guidance above should, at the very least, help you come in out of the rain and avert a potential business disaster.
Owen McLean and David Ward, senior safety consultants for Sentry Insurance a Mutual Company. Sentry provides insurance, retirement, and safety services for printing companies and other businesses. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com or visit sentry.com to learn more.