By Jack Rubinger, Graphic Products,


From time to time, we like to share perspectives of members in our connected communities. We’d like to thank Jack Rubinger, an expert in industrial safety, for providing this two-part guest post. You can read the first part of this series here.

Disaster preparedness and the potential for emergency evacuation is something we should all recognize. To effectively manage disaster decision making, roles must be established and tasks assigned, which include: gathering information, making decisions and communicating with employees, customers, regulators, local government, police and fire, suppliers, and neighbors using established channels of communication. Message consistency is vital. Use social media to correct misinformation or rumors.

Disaster preparedness teams should include the CEO, CFO, department heads, corporate communications, human resources, security, corporate counsel, and the chief technology officer.

Here are questions to ask during your disaster preparedness planning session:

Emergency egress: Are evacuation routes clear? Are routes marked with wayfinding signage that is visible without light or power?

In the aftermath of 9/11, New York City and other municipalities made phosphorescent markings mandatory in emergency stairwells and exit doors of commercial high-rise buildings 75 feet or taller.

Are employees designated to check bathrooms and make sure all other rooms are empty? Is a roll-call procedure in place to make sure all employees are accounted for?

Supplies: What will you do if your employees (or customers) can’t go home? Is first aid and emergency supplies on hand? Are food, water, and blankets available? What about radios, tools crowbars, and shovels?

Facility: Are fire extinguishers maintained and accessible? Are heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems secure and capable of filtering potential contaminants? Do you have a backup generator and enough safely stored fuel? Are pipes and valves prominently marked? Are all hazardous materials properly stored and labeled with NFPA hazard diamond and/or HazCom 2012 labels?

Business continuity plan: When a disaster takes out an entire city or region, companies go out of business. Planning for contingencies can help keep businesses afloat. Here are bases to cover:

  • Insurance: How well are you covered? Get more coverage than you think you need. Many buildings near coastal areas do not carry flood insurance because they are not adjacent to a river. Storms and tsunamis have proven that approach to be ineffective.
  • Employees: Which employees will put the business back together? Are they set up for telecommuting?
  • Supply chain: Do you have alternate suppliers?
  • Business model: Can your business adapt to offer something of value in the aftermath of a catastrophe? How quickly can you adopt the new business model? Do you have access to credit and/or cash? Do you have a backup point-of-sale system that can operate without the power grid?
  • Inventory: How is your inventory secured and stored? If flooded, burned, or shaken today, how much of your inventory would be destroyed?
  • Facility: Can you operate out of a different facility in case of emergency? Do you have generators? Do you have any backup machinery necessary to do enough work to stay in business?
  • IT disaster recovery plan: A critical aspect of business continuity planning concerns IT. Electronic equipment can be affected by power loss, power surges, and exposure to the elements. A basic IT disaster recovery plan takes into account the following: Data recovery and restoration: Is your data backed up on a daily basis and duplicated in a data center somewhere far away from local conditions? Hardware and software: Do you have a full inventory and access to enough equipment to run the business? Connectivity: How will your connectivity channels be affected by disasters?

    Photo credit: Graphic Products. Barcode labels help identify twisted and tangled cables in telecom closets which may require updating after disasters.

Do it yourself industrial labeling machines give people the power to create signage on-site during emergency evacuations. For more information about Graphic Products, the global leader in workplace labeling and signage, visit, email [email protected] or call 800.788.5572, ext. 3024.