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Monday, September 29, 2014

What Hazards Could Shutter Your Business?

By Jana Mathieson

If you’re a business owner or leader, you may have already thought through what you would do in case of a fire or a flood. You may have a great plan in place to ensure continuity of your business operations. But have you taken into consideration what would happen if the business two doors down suddenly exploded, or the gas station down the street had a hazardous leak?

Many businesses plan for emergencies, but if you don’t know what to plan for, how can you create a good plan?

Philip Niemer, Director of Operational Contingency and Emergency Management at Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado), thinks about emergencies every day.  

“What will close or seriously impede operations at the facility?” is the question he asks -- and looks to answer -- in his position at Children’sColorado.

In order to help answer this question, Niemer has developed a free Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA) tool that has more than 120 items to be considered. Niemer started working on the tool because health care has no specific requirements for an HVA; what to include or how to complete an HVA is not outlined. Niemer realized that HVA requirements for other industries are also not specific, so he made the tool 100% customizable.

Businesses can use the tool created by Niemer to develop their own, fully customized Hazard Vulnerability Assessment. Users have control over the data, and can enter data and parameters that work in each industry and location.

Niemer recommends that businesses complete the assessment on an annual basis and focus on concerns that rise to the top. Each year, the list should change as plans are put in place to mitigate potential harm. “How well a business recovers from an emergency or disaster depends on a proactive approach before the emergency happens,” Niemer said. The HVA tool helps in this process.

The best thing about the tool? It is free. Absolutely free. Niemer wants it to be used and shared and improved upon by the people using it.

Niemer, along with Jerrod Milton, VP of Operations at Children’s Colorado, will be providing an overview of the tool and why doing an HVA is important, at the Rocky Mountain Business Preparedness Academy on September 30, 2014. All attendees at the Academy will receive the tool along with additional information about how to complete a Hazard Vulnerability Assessment.

To learn more and register for the Business Preparedness Academy, click here: www.redcross.org/RMBPA. The cost for the full day is $25.

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