Preparing for Supply Chain Continuity in a Natural Disaster

Author: Rene Garcia


Across California, firefighters are currently battling over two dozen wildfires that have destroyed several homes and shut down entire towns. The devastation is terrible, but these natural disasters also serve as important reminders that while companies can take steps to manage risk within their supply chains, there are some events that are uncontrollable. Nevertheless, there are still steps that organizations can take to mitigate the disruption and maximize the protection of their workforce, property, and business.

Employee Safety

It should go without saying that protecting human lives should always be the number one priority for any organization. Therefore, companies should ensure that safety procedures are in place in the event of a natural disaster. Evacuation routes and emergency exits should be identified and be readily identifiable. Routine evacuation drills should be scheduled so that employees know where to go and what to do during an emergency. Emergency lighting and other safety precautions should be installed in case of a power outage. Specific employees should also be assigned safety leadership roles to help guide the rest of the staff. Finally, companies should consider safety shelters if appropriate and if practical given the limitations of the property.

Asset Protection

Critical business assets, such as work facilities, equipment, software, and data, need to be considered when creating any disaster preparedness plan. If these assets are lost in a natural disaster, then a disruption could be impossible to recover from. Fortunately, there are options to explore. If the worksite is still in the construction phase, then hiring a qualified contractor who understands risk mitigation construction techniques will help minimize damage to the infrastructure. If your organization doesn’t own the property or you’re getting a late start in disaster preparedness, then consider identifying a temporary location for business continuity. Also, it’s important to maintain a log of inventory so you know what might be lost in a disaster. Regular data backups should also occur every night and stored off-site.

Minimizing Disruptions

Whether it’s a fire, tornado, flood, or some other natural disaster, if your business is affected by one, then you’ll want to get back to work as quickly as possible. During an emergency and immediately after, it may be difficult to know what to do, which is why planning now can make all the difference. The first step is to identify your support network. Maintain a list now of contractors who can make emergency repairs to your infrastructure and who can properly board up damaged buildings. Next, identify key stakeholders in your supply chain who need to be notified about the disruption. This may include key suppliers, customers, vendors, and more. Not only is this professional courtesy, but it will help ensure that you have an operation to return to when your disruption is resolved. Finally, build a financial plan now that covers payroll and other debt obligations during a disruption. If you lose your workforce because checks are bouncing, then recovery is going to take much longer.

If you’re looking for trusted supply chain partners who observe these precautions, then Avetta can help. We evaluate and prequalify suppliers, contractors and vendors to ensure they meet your compliance requirements; improving safety performance while lowering your risk profile and administrative costs.

Learn more about our Supplier Auditing and Prequalification Services

How is your organization handling it?

We're taking steps internally to ensure we can support you during this crisis by:

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Maintain a current Business Continuity Plan

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Promote a safe, clean and sanitized work environment

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Enable employees to work remotely

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Institute Office Distancing policies

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No visitors to the office

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Encourage employees to self-educate using online resources (WHO)

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Restrict travel—all non-essential travel is forbidden

To learn more, we encourage you to visit our COVID-19 Resource Library.

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