Regardless of the industry you operate in, every business or institution can be thrown an obstacle every now and again. These might appear in the shape of crises such as flooding, power outages or fires, but they could also affect your employees and take the form of an outbreak of infection or disease. Given the current circumstances with the Coronavirus, there’s no better time to talk about how to handle a crisis in order to preserve your productivity and carry out ‘business as usual’.
Why have a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan can help you to quickly return to your critical business functions after an incident. Having a plan in place helps to mitigate and plan against the worst possible effects of a crisis – this could include the loss of valuable customers, employees or at worst result in going out of business altogether. A plan provides a framework for enabling a level of resilience that protects the interests of stakeholders.
How is a business continuity plan built?
A business continuity plan (BCP) should be produced using two documents which need to first be drawn up: a risk assessment to identify and define the possible scenarios, their likelihood and impact, and a business impact analysis (BIA) to layout recovery times and to set priorities and deadlines for specific activities. See more information HERE.
What does the plan need to include?
There are four main components you might want to include in your BCP:
- Emergency response
Focusing on the welfare of people as a priority. This section should include evacuation procedures, response checklists and information on containing the damage.
- Crisis management
Here should be plans for the controlling of information regarding the crisis to stakeholders and media and a list of resources required to support recovery including the name of the nominated company spokesperson.
- Business recovery
Utilise the BIA here to lay plans for operational recovery. Clear strategies should be outlined for different scenarios covering every aspect of functionality of the business. Consider any training your staff will need to complete to ensure they can adequately fulfil their duties should an emergency occur e.g. fire wardens or first aiders.
- Key contacts
Create a list of contacts both internally and externally whose support you may require in the event of an emergency. Detail their designated roles and responsibilities. It is also useful to store maps of the premises here with fire exits and evacuation routes clearly marked.
If you’d like help making a BCP, GOV.UK’s business continuity management toolkit can help you, tailoring it to your business.
What to do in the event of an outbreak of infection or disease in the workplace
The very first step should be to seek advice from an expert on how to deal with it. There are several infectious diseases that you are legally obliged to report to your local authority if a diagnosis is made or even suspected by a medical professional. For diseases that could be hazardous to public health, such as Coronavirus, you must report these to the Public Health Agency. If the disease is caused by work, (such as chemical poisoning or carpal tunnel syndrome) you must report these to the Health and Safety Executive.
To minimise the disruption to your business and staff, you should follow your BCP and ensure that every member of staff is kept up to date in knowing their responsibilities in the event of an outbreak.
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