HR Management & Compliance

Employment Law Tip: Are You Ready for the Big One?

Just two weeks ago, a temblor measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale rattled San Jose and was felt throughout the reaches of the Bay Area. Fortunately, it didn’t cause any major damage. But the quake was another wake-up call for California residents and businesses about the possibility of a much bigger, destructive quake occurring in the near future. Are you prepared for the Big One? Here’s a quick checklist on protection measures to take before the next earthquake strikes:

  • Have your building inspected to make sure it is structurally sound. Repair any cracks in walls and ceilings.
  • Secure computers to desktops with restraining materials such as elastic cords, chains, or cables. Fasten bookcases and shelves to walls, and install latches on drawers and file cabinets to prevent them from flying open. Also, don’t place heavy equipment or supplies on top of cabinets or desks where they can fall off and injure employees in an earthquake.
  • Purchase first-aid and emergency provisions, including an emergency supply of water and dry food, portable radios, and flashlights.
  • Designate evacuation routes that avoid the most likely hazards, and inform all employees about them. When planning evacuation routes, consider the special needs of disabled employees.
  • Make sure a number of employees are certified in first aid, CPR, and fire safety.
  • Hold regular drills to make sure employees know what to do—and not do—in an earthquake. For example, people should take cover wherever they are in the building, preferably under a desk or in a doorway, and they shouldn’t run outside during a quake. And they should stay away from glass and windows, which can shatter and cause serious injury.
  • Set up emergency communication procedures, including key personnel contacts for employees.
  • Establish contacts at fire, police, and emergency services departments.
  • Know the capability of all necessary business continuity providers, such as records storage, power restoration, and alternate sites.
  • Install seismic switches for automatic equipment shutdown. Similarly, install surge protectors and battery-backup systems to help protect sensitive equipment and prevent a computer crash if power goes out.
  • Research and consider earthquake insurance coverage.

Additional Resources:

Health and Safety: Is Your Business Seismically Secure? Preparedness and Protection Tips (Start your guest access and get this now)

400+ pages of state-specific, easy-read reference materials at your fingertips—fully updated! Check out the Guide to Employment Law for California Employers and get up to speed on everything you need to know.

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