Earthquake Response & Recovery in the Workplace

Ken Walker 1

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Australia is among the many countries in the world that are prone to earthquakes. When earthquakes happen, they may result in damage to property, loss of lives, injuries, etc. Response to and recovery from these events can be very difficult.

This makes earthquakes a disaster worth preparing for. Since they do not give warning signs, and when they occur, losses are incurred.

Critical factors relating to earthquake response and recovery

 When earthquakes occur, they do not discriminate; they affect nearly every area in that region. This means that they may occur in the cities or industrial hubs.

In such instances, among the most affected population is the employees of the organizations/companies in the area. This makes it important for every organization to lay down strategies for dealing with  earthquake response and recovery.

 For all disasters, earthquakes included, every organization must have effective emergency response and recovery plan. This plan should be comprehensive on what should be done before an earthquake, during an earthquake, and after an earthquake.

 Preparing for an earthquake.

 Before an earthquake happens, every organization should have put up structures in anticipation for a disaster such as an earthquake.

You must prepare adequately to reduce the effects of an earthquake if it occurs. The organization must, therefore:

  •   Check the preparedness of the building: The building that hosts your organization should be your number one priority when preparing for an earthquake.
  • Ask yourself how stable is the building to handle an earthquake and what evacuation routes are available according to the structure and design of the building. The local building regulatory board will help you with this, to make sure your organization, including your employees, are in a safe building.
  • Prepare your workforce: Your employees must understand the importance of disaster preparation. They should know what to do if an earthquake happens and how to overcome the trauma that may come with the effects of an earthquake. Preparing your employees calls for regular  earthquake response and recovery drills.

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Components of an earthquake drill.

For your employees to respond appropriately to a future earthquake, you must engage them in earthquake drills. Earthquake drills should involve six components.

The 6 components include:

  • Alarm: There should be an alarm or a signal known to everyone that there is a danger. The signal/alarm should act as a warning for everyone to take cover by assuming there is an earthquake.
  •  Response: During the response stage, the staff should be in apposition to take cover in a safe place. Safe places during an earthquake include; far from windows, lights, glass, tall office cabinets, etc.
  •  They should know the safest places to take cover if an earthquake happens, e.g., under a door jamb, under a heavy table or desk, etc. Your staff should be aware of the dangers of running outside immediately.
  •  Evacuation: After the shaking stops, it is now time to leave the safe place to the pre-established safe area away from the building. They should practice how to move for the safe place in the building to an area outside the building, walls, fences, electricity poles, trees, or bridges.
  •  Assembly:  The evacuees should then be grouped in distinctive groups. Such as departments to facilitate the next step of taking a roll call.
  • Roll call: There should be people allocated to make sure everyone is there. In a real case scenario, it would mean that a rescue team would have been dispatched for the missing people.
  • Evaluation: After the roll call is taken, an assessment should be undertaken for the organization to identify snags in the drills, potential problem areas, or problem areas.

The goal of earthquake drills is to make sure that every employee can respond appropriately when there is an earthquake.

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 During & after the earthquake.

 If an earthquake occurs, an alarm or signal should be sent for everyone to take cover as practiced in the earthquake drills. 

Every institution should also have a comprehensive disaster plan. The disaster plan is to handle small or less dangerous activities after an earthquake occurs.

Remember, you have to call for professional help when an earthquake occurs. This is because the earthquake may have caused the building to collapse or fire.

 The plan should make sure there is a safe area outside the building, evacuation routes, and trained employees to help handle some things before professional help comes to your rescue.

The organization should train and assign employees to give first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, fire response & search rescue.

In conclusion, after an earthquake, people should be prepared for anything, including the loss of their colleagues. However, dealing with such is not an easy task; the organization will have to organize counselling for the employees to overcome grief and post-traumatic stress disorder. Above all, effective emergency plans include all factors relating to earthquake response and recovery.

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