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Half of Your Office Staff Suffer Injury During a Crisis, Are You Liable?

When we were children (and prone to injuries) we knew no matter what happened, all of our needs would be taken care of by the grown-ups around us. When a scary thunderstorm woke us in the middle of the night, we needed only the protection of mom and dad to soothe us. When we skinned our knees on the playground at school, the nurse had antiseptic spray and plenty of Band-Aids on hand to minimize the damage. Grown-ups were our risk management plan and because of them we always came through those little disasters no worse for the wear.

Now that we’re adults, who do we count on? Do we just go about life assuming somebody else is in charge? There’s a lot more at stake now than just skinned knees and the fear of thunder. Do you have an emergency plan for yourself or your own family, your office or your employees? If you’re the “boss” of 1 or 1000 employees, or oversee a property that is open to the general public, and you don’t have a plan, it’s time to get one. We’re not talking about a plan to call 911 when a customer trips on a rug and sustains an injury like a broken leg or sprained ankle. We’re talking about expecting the unexpected.

Weather patterns in the United States can be unpredictable. Tornados, severe storms, drought and flooding seem to happen anywhere and everywhere without a moment’s notice. Of course, manmade disasters are rarely predictable either. They, too, can cause fatal or serious injury to dozens or thousands of people. Here in Colorado, the Columbine tragedy still feels like it happened just yesterday. In Japan, it will be decades before the country recovers from the the nuclear crisis at Fukushima.

Disaster preparedness is about more than buying insurance to cover personal injury or property damage. It’s about taking care of people to the best of your ability, managing your personal liability, and the liability of the entire business. Yes, after an emergency situation, you and your business entity could be held accountable for serious injury or wrongful death of people whom you weren’t prepared to protect.

If you are someone who others will look to for help in a time of need, here are some things to think about right now.

  • What kinds of emergencies are possible here? Natural disasters? Chemical or biological disasters? Explosions?
  • Are we in danger of being targeted for any specific type of event?
  • How will I communicate with everyone when there is an emergency? Who will communicate with everyone if I am unable to?
  • Is there a safe place in the building where everyone knows to meet in case of an emergency? Is there one outside of the building? What about a meeting place elsewhere, away from our property?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg for emergency preparedness. READYColorado and Ready Business will lead you to Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) training and volunteer opportunities, plus walk you through the process of creating an emergency preparedness plan for your business.

It’s easy to be prepared for life’s little emergencies like broken bones and accidental injuries. It takes a leader with a plan to be prepared for the once-in-a-lifetime crises we hope will never actually occur.