How to Lessen A Natural Disaster’s Blow
Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and tsunamis have left homes and businesses in ruins. Although not preventable, firms can still prepare for natural disasters in order to quickly recover from effects within the construction industry. The key to recovery is preparation, knowing what to expect, and taking the proper steps to resume operations.
Just as it is at home, preparation is critical for a firm’s rebound from a natural disaster. A checklist and procedure for these situations should always be ready for implementation. Contact information for employees, subcontractors, and authorities should be readily available. If applicable, tie downs, banding material, blocking, anchors, and other necessary protection supplies should be available. Then, prepare any facility or job site to resume operation as quickly as possible if you have warning of an impending natural disaster:
- Take and safely store pictures of any areas affected. Identify, anchor, and restrain any loose materials or equipment.
- Consolidate, stack, anchor or band any loose materials. Move any materials, equipment, or tools to a safe location.
- As conditions worsen, suspend normal work activities and evacuate employees.
- After the storm passes, document and photograph a damage/theft assessment and begin the cleanup procedure. Have a planned method of notifying employees when it is safe to return to the site.
Project Delay – The most immediate effect in the industry is project delay due to damage cleanup and infrastructure repairs. Flooded soil and heavy winds can bring down trees, causing sinkholes, downed power lines, and inaccessible roads. Many firms will experience project delays, simply because of damaged structures and hazardous job-sites.
There is no way around a delay, but if a firm is prepared staff may be able to get a head start on recovery. Project managers may be able to access cloud-based information to take account of projects and prioritize efforts. Even if the road to the office is unpassable, staff may be able to save precious time formulating and communicating a plan of action.
Labor Shortage and Sudden Influx – Crews dealing with the damage to their own homes combined with the increased amount of work can cause a great initial labor shortage. Firms may find difficulty in meeting the demand. Coordinating, scheduling, and adjusting for high priority projects are vital until extra help arrives.
To combat this shortage, extra crews and subcontractors need to be brought aboard and managed. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled after Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, thousands of construction sector jobs were added on top of pre-disaster levels. This sudden influx could cause further strain on hiring, HR, and onboarding processes. Establishing a solid procedure along with organized documentation practices will streamline this process of adding to the workforce. A more efficient procedure mitigates potential issues.
Material Shortage – Even with a plan in place and crews ready to go, one of the more lasting effects is material shortage. Suddenly there will be high demand for common construction materials from cement for foundations to rubber tires for equipment. With everyone in the industry clamboring for the same materials, purchasers must be mindful of rising costs and using alternative sources.
Check current inventory to gauge any issues or damage, and take account of the amount of work that can be completed with materials currently on hand. Then, review any current orders and deliveries you expect to arrive soon, as delivery schedules could be delayed. If you have all purchase order and vendor information organized and in one easily-accessed placed, this process will proceed smoothly.
A firm will undoubtedly need to order additional materials. Local sources may soon dry up, and it will be crucial to place orders quickly. As many will have to turn to different vendors, tracking quotes and pricing to secure the best deal will reduce the effects on the budget.
Are You Prepared?
Natural disasters are unstoppable and occur with little warning. Have a prepared strategy and resources at the ready, so that a company can mitigate the profound impact. As many have learned, taking risks can have costly effects.