Preparing your business for an unforeseen threat or disaster can be challenging, as it is difficult to know the exact impact such an event could have on your business. Terrorism, criminal activity, natural disasters are all potential threats to your business, and it is important that you have effective plans in place to minimise the potential impact of those risks.
No Plan Is A Recipe for Disaster!
Formulating a disaster recovery plan is also a good opportunity to review your current Office Insurance package to ensure you are fully aware of the different levels of cover available and which risks you can transfer to your insurer.
Without prior planning, you leave your business open to financial disaster, especially if you are forced to cease trading for a period of time. In addition, without a proper plan to cope with a disaster situation, your firm may face legal actions from clients, vendors or employees claiming negligence under your Professional Indemnity Insurance.
Ensure Adequate Security Prevention Measures
It is important to protect your facility by assessing your security measures and making improvements where necessary. Though not all security threats can be avoided, some situations can be prevented with appropriate preparation.
- Advise management and employees to report any suspicious persons or activity in or around the office or grounds.
- Establish and follow visitor control procedures such as mandatory reception sign-ins, name badges, compulsory escorts, orientation, etc.
- Survey and review locks, fences, exterior lights, window locks and other physical security devices to ensure that they are in place where needed and in proper operating condition. Establish a monthly inspection of your office security and key protective features of your building.
- Evaluate security at the critical locations in your premises, including building entrances, electrical fuse boxes, outside storage units and telephone and/or computer server rooms.
- If your office has a security or fire alarm system, be sure it is operating properly and that key personnel know how to arm/disarm it.
- Make sure that fire suppression systems are regularly inspected and maintained. Also be sure that a sufficient number of trusted personnel know how to activate, operate and shut them down.
- CCTV can also serve as an excellent crime deterrent, and when the system is equipped with a recorder it can help solve crimes.
- Review your procedures for issuing keys to the office and access cards. As a minimum, keep lists of who has been issued keys/cards and have a procedure for handling a situation when a troubled employee is terminated without returning them.
- Discuss security with your local authority and police force. They are often very willing to provide information and support to local businesses.
- Have your local fire service conduct a pre-planned visit to your building. While there, they can identify potential hazards and plan fire suppression priorities.
Disaster Recovery Plan
- Review your Office Insurance policy with your insurance advisor and obtain any additional cover for terrorism as required.
- Keep copies of insurance policies and other critical documents in a safe at an accessible location (e.g. a fireproof safe).
- Evaluate which disasters are most likely to occur in your area, remembering to include the possibility of terrorist activity. Be sure you are prepared for all of the risks you identify.
- Develop a Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity Plan. This should be a working document which is regularly reviewed and tested. The plan should incorporate provision for anything that disrupts your business operations and planning for a backup option. You may consider identifying backups for essential operations, supply chains, personnel, business functions, data processes and communication channels.
- Review your policy for off-site or cloud based backup of electronic data records (EDP). Ideally these records should be backed up and transmitted or sent off-site on a daily basis.
- Have telephone call lists available for all key personnel so required staff members can be contacted during non-working hours from any location. Review procedures for notifying employees that your office is closed and the action they should take in the event of a disaster. Remind employees that they should never attempt to enter areas that are closed by police or other emergency responders.
- Consider establishing an alternate method for your phone service if your main phone line or switchboard becomes unusable (e.g. forwarding incoming calls to a mobile phone or remote number).
- Check available emergency supplies such as torches, batteries, back-up power supply systems, spare fire extinguishers and first aid kits.
Where could your business operate from in the event of a disaster at your main office premises? Your DR (Disaster Recovery) plan should include details for all key staff. This could be a home-working policy or a move to a pre-defined alternative location.
Your Office Insurance policy can normally be extended to make provision for “Increased Cost of Working” following an insured loss, such as a fire or flood, it makes sense to review this sum insured while considering alternative office location and other attached expenses which would keep the business running effectively.
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