Earthquakes occur suddenly and without warning, creating heightened risk for potential interruption of business operations and causing extensive damage to buildings and their contents, as well as disrupting gas, electric, and telephone services.
The US Geological Survey reports that there are an estimated 500,000 detectable earthquakes in the world every year, of which, approximately 100 cause damage.1 According to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) study, over time earthquake losses in the United States alone could average $6.14 billion dollars a year.2
In the face of this risk, earthquake preparation can make the difference between getting your business back up and running quickly after such a catastrophe, and shutting down for months, or, even worse, closing altogether.
To avoid leaving your business exposed to loss of revenue and physical assets, it’s important that your business have an earthquake preparedness plan in place that includes the following elements:
One of the most important aspects of an earthquake preparedness plan is having the facility in which your organization operates inspected by a structural engineer. Based on this inspection, you can develop and prioritize strengthening measures, such as:
A good training program will help you and your employees know what to do and act quickly when an earthquake occurs. According to OSHA, employee earthquake safety training should include:
One of the most important aspects of preparing your business for an any type of catastrophe is ensuring your business continuity plan (BCP) is up to date. Your BCP is an individualized, documented series of actions to be taken when catastrophe strikes. It ensures that protocols, procedures, lists of contacts, and other resources are at your fingertips at a moment’s notice. If you don’t have a BCP for your business, it’s important to establish one as soon as possible.
Designated persons should perform a thorough investigation of the facilities following an earthquake, provided they can do so safely. If indications of earthquake damage or even potential damage are found, contact an engineering consultant to conduct a professional investigation, analysis, and remediation.
A post-earthquake damage inspection checklist can make this part of the process more efficient. It includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Keep in mind that, beyond the considerable damage they can inflict on their own, earthquakes also have the potential to trigger other catastrophes, such as landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires, and tsunamis. Discuss the level of earthquake risk faced by your business with your insurance agent or broker to ensure you have the proper insurance coverage in place.
Planning equals resiliency, and planning for a catastrophe can mean the difference between life and death for a business following an earthquake.
1USGS Cool Earthquake Facts: https://www.usgs.gov/programs/earthquake-hazards/cool-earthquake-facts#:~:text=It%20is%20estimated%20that%20there,100%20of%20them%20cause%20damage
2USGS Collaborates with FEMA on National Earthquake Loss Estimate: https://www.usgs.gov/news/science-snippet/usgs-collaborates-fema-national-earthquake-loss-estimate