Ed Campbell arrived at the plant less than 15 minutes after the first fire truck pulled in. During the two hours it took to extinguish the flames, douse the hot spots, and vent all the smoke, the plant manager wondered what awaited him inside. Workers from the second shift milled around in the parking lot—fortunately, none of them had been injured. It would take another couple of hours before the fire inspector would identify a faulty compressor as the cause.
When Ed reached his boss, the first question was whether the plant would be able to meet its commitment to deliver the truckload of components to its auto-plant customer. If it didn’t, the customer would lose a day’s production. Ed wasn’t sure if he should call and warn the customer. He didn’t yet know the extent of the damage. He assumed there would be a substantial amount of cleanup and wondered how to go about what needed to be done. The electric and gas companies had cut off service and Ed wasn’t sure what would be involved in restoring it. Nor did he know if he should send the second shift home early.
Like many businesses, Ed’s company had failed to develop a plan for an emergency restoration program. They had fire alarms, extinguishers and everything else they needed to provide a safe exit, but nobody had considered what it would take to reopen the plant after even a small fire—or a broken pipe, or if the nearby creek flooded, or if a tornado removed part of the roof, or any of a dozen other emergencies that could shut the plant down.
Restoration Plan Elements
An emergency restoration plan should consider the types of damage that could occur, the specific impacts they may have upon the facility and operations, and the specific steps that would be involved in recovering from the emergency. The plan should spell out who is responsible for each element and who must be contacted. When appropriate, the plan may include contingencies, such as asking another facility to step up and address a customer’s need.
In Ed’s situation, the plan might include instructions for when and how to contact that large customer, along with guidance for determining whether employees should stay at work. The program should also include training so key employees such as shift supervisors know of the program’s existence and understand their roles in emergency situations.
In addition to ensuring everyone knows what to do, developing a restoration plan may help you identify steps you can take to head off emergencies or minimize their impact. As an example, you may discover that important documents are being stored directly below plumbing that’s vulnerable to failure. By finding a safer location for those documents, you’ll reduce the potential for them to be destroyed if that plumbing freezes and bursts.
Partner with a Restoration Contractor
While having an emergency restoration plan is vital, an equally useful step is developing an ongoing relationship with a professional restoration contractor before their help is needed—one that can become more familiar with your business operations and develop an emergency plan specific to your needs. Hylant can provide suggestions to help our clients identify a restoration company.
As a reminder to Hylant clients, remember that if claims arise, your Hylant claims team is there to help you every step of the way—advising, advocating and educating. Personal involvement: That’s our commitment.
The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted adviser for insurance-related questions.