If you live on the West Coast, you probably already have an earthquake preparation plan in place; the reality is that earthquakes don’t always hit where there’s a continental plate. In fact, there’s a huge area stretching from Little Rock to St. Louis, all the way east through Atlanta, and on to Charleston that’s had significant seismic activity in the past and is likely to have more in the future. (Consult the maps on the page for more information.)
So this article is for all facility managers whom earthquakes are the last thing on your mind. It doesn’t take much to have a plan in place, and even if you only go over your plan twice a year, it could save numerous lives.
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the primary dangers to workers as a result of an earthquake are from:
- being struck by structural components, furnishings, or inadequately secured or stored materials,
- burns resulting from building fires, gas leaks, or electrical shorts, and
- exposure to chemicals released from storage.
Many of these hazards, which can happen both during and following an earthquake, are predictable and may be reduced through hazard identification, planning, and mitigation.
Here are some of the things you can do to prepare your workplace for an earthquake:
- Employees should map out safe places to hide—under a sturdy table or desk or against an interior wall—away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you. The shorter the distance to move to safety, the less likely that you will be injured. According to OSHA, “injury statistics show that people moving as little as ten feet during an earthquake’s shaking are most likely to be injured.”
- Run drills at least twice a year. Workers should practice drop, cover, and hold-on in each safe place. Practice will reinforce safe behavior. You don’t want people hesitating during an earthquake.
- As with any emergency, you should have building site maps and floor plans identifying exits, fire escapes, stairways, utility valves and shutoffs, fire extinguishers, hydrants, and standpipes, hazardous materials, and locked or restricted areas.
- In the event of an earthquake or other such emergency, your building may have to endure an extensive power outage. Look at power options, particularly generator requirements.
- OSHA recommends reviewing your current data back-up procedures and “consider contracting with a datacenter or collocation facility that is in a different part of the country.” Backups should happen daily.
For more information on preparing for an earthquake, visit OSHA’s website.
For help in preparing your facility for earthquakes or other emergencies, contact Vanguard Resources.