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Disaster Preparedness

How to Prepare Your Business for an Earthquake

If you service an area affected by earthquakes, take these steps to respond safely and effectively – before, during and after the event. 

Write an emergency response plan for your company.  

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends developing a disaster plan for your company before an earthquake. Consider including the following elements:

  • Establish a planning team. This should bring together personnel from all levels of the business, from labor to upper management. 
  • Conduct a vulnerability analysis. Figure out how prepared your company is to respond to an earthquake, and then identify the areas where you can improve. 
  • Write an emergency plan you hand out to your employees. This can include any existing plan your building has for earthquakes.
  • Make sure your employees know how to get ahold of first responders in case of an emergency. 

For more detailed instructions on how to develop this plan, see recommendations from FEMA here.

Train your team to identify and respond to an earthquake. When the shaking starts:

  • Get underneath a sturdy piece of furniture where you can take cover during an earthquake. 
  • Choose furniture that is close to you and away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture that could fall. Even moving as little as 10 feet during an earthquake could cause injuries.
  • Practice ‘drop, cover and hold on.’ This means quickly dropping under the piece of furniture and holding onto the leg. Keep your eyes covered and your head down.
  • Practice these actions regularly to help them become an automatic response. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends you practice at least twice a year. 
  • Consider taking a first aid class from your local Red Cross; you can also get training on how to use a fire extinguisher. 

Get the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for your team.

Before an earthquake hits, it’s a good idea to have the right PPE on-hand for when you get back to work. Here’s a checklist that can help you while you’re on the job.  

  • Safety shoes
  • Hard hat
  • Safety glasses
  • Hearing protection
  • Durable work clothes
  • Gloves
  • Respirator

Contact your local OSHA office if you have more specific questions or concerns.

Understands the hazards you’ll encounter.

  • Following an earthquake, you and your team may be exposed to physical or chemical hazards.
  • You may also need to protect yourself from insects, contaminated food and water, or injuries from hazards like unstable structures and damaged roadways. 

Learn more about the hazards you may encounter, and how to deal with them, from NIOSH.


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