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This week, Charlie suggests some actions organisations may take to prepare for severe weather.

With the severe snow and blizzards in the United States last week and also snow in Scotland, I thought I might put together some thoughts on the actions you could take in advance to plan for a heavy snow fall. As we are not yet out of the winter you may need to plan for snow

When I am teaching people about business continuity, one of the events which I suggest could cause invocation of the business continuity plan is forecasted severe weather. With weather forecasting getting better and usually getting some warning, there is a window to prepare for the incoming event.

So what actions could you take in preparation for severe weather, especially when heavy snow is forecasted?

1. Encourage all departments in the organisation to plan for the event. This could include:

  • Is it possible to complete a project, deadline or bid before the storm hits?
  • Ensure staff contact details are up to date including their mobile number
  • If not already decided, see which staff could work from home. Ensure that if a lot more staff are going to work from home you inform your IT department, as they may receive more calls to the help desk and they may need to make changes to the VPN to enable more staff to dial in
  • If there is no public transport or it is severely disrupted, discuss with staff how are they going to get to work. Is it possible for those with 4×4 vehicles to pick up others and take them into work?

2. If you work in an industry that is likely to get increased work with severe weather, then encourage staff to prepare for the event. Should they take vehicles home if they don’t normally do so and are they fully stocked to deal with the event?

3. Have those departments, which deal with an increased number of calls, identified extra staff who can supplement existing staff?

4. Communicate with your suppliers and check what plans they have for continuing their service to you

5. Is this an opportunity to show your organisation’s support to the local community and suggest staff “help their neighbour” or call in on an elderly person?

6. With human resources, make clear to all staff your expectations in getting into work. If they feel they are unable to get in is this taken as a day’s holiday or day on full pay?

7.  Liaise with council regarding gritting and clearance of snow. Check who is going to clear your own car park, do they have appropriate equipment and is there a plan in place to grit pathways?

8. Delay any work that could potentially lead to an accident or an outage

9. Identify the contractor you would use if there were damage to your equipment or building

10. A few years ago there was a severe spell of very, very cold weather – some heating and machinery broke down as they could not cope with such low temperatures. Make sure you have a plan in place for your organisation if we reach such cold temperatures.

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