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Leslie Bonacum
Neil Allen

Workplace Practices Can Help Control Weather's Impact

Heartwarming News for Those Frosted by Recent Cold

 (RIVERWOODS, ILL , January 27, 2000) – Companies paralyzed by plummeting temperatures and relentless storms across the U.S. can take steps before mother nature strikes again to ensure that harsh weather doesn’t spell business disaster, according to CCH INCORPORATED (CCH), a leading provider of worker safety and employment law information.

"While severe weather of any kind presents special workplace challenges, companies can help ensure they’re not blindsided by bad weather if they follow some simple steps," said Nancy Kaylor, CCH workplace analyst. "The first, and most important step, is developing a checklist for an emergency contingency plan."

Developing Emergency Contingency Plans

There are weather-related practices and policies that companies can adopt under an emergency contingency plan to help protect their employees and keep their businesses going. Although each company should tailor a plan to fit its specific needs, the steps that companies should follow in developing an effective emergency contingency plan are the same.

The following provides a checklist to follow in developing such plans:

  • Organize a dedicated group:
  • Establish a committee of members from each significant part of the business. Name a chairperson with authority to get the plan done, set timeframes and clarify accountabilities. Ensure strong executive support.

  • Plan for the worst possible scenarios:
  • Have each member assume the worst and list emergency situations that could affect the organization and its employees. Identify items that are of most importance to continuing the business – such as records and the ability to communicate.

  • Identify internal alternatives:

For items of most importance to the business, determine if there were any alternatives that could have been pursued before the disaster to avoid total loss. Alternatives include: maintain duplicate records at a different site; use equipment located at another business or worksite; store critical information such as accounts receivable, client information, vendor and personnel records or outstanding billings in a safe and secure place such as a bank vault.

  • Verify external alternatives, contingencies and insurance:

In addition to planning alternatives, committee members should include the following in their emergency planning efforts:

  • Determine the adequacy of fire and disaster insurance.

  • Complete emergency evacuation planning, including periodic drills, special considerations for disabled employees and coordination with local emergency and fire authorities.

  • Establish a plan for an alternate worksite during the emergency, including records, staff and support such as telephone, equipment and related supports. Consider a reciprocal relationship with a vendor or competitor.

  • Specify under what circumstances a facility will be closed, who makes the decision, how the decision is communicated and whether the employees will be compensated. Consider the use of the EAP hotline or another number to function as a hotline.

  • Establish emergency call-in numbers for employees. Provide information to all employees in a written form such as a wallet card.

  • Coordinate contingency planning with other safety and workplace violence planning. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

  • Establish a relationship with a local radio or television station in case of an emergency.

  • If your company operates 24 hours a day or provides critical services, determine the plan for alternative electricity, water storage and other routine public services.

  • Plan public relations’ responsibilities thoroughly. Plan for more than one backup spokesperson.



CCH INCORPORATED, Riverwoods, Ill., is a leading provider of human resources, tax and business law information and services. The company’s Human Resources Group is among the nation’s most authoritative sources of employment law, including information on benefits, compensation, worker safety and human resources management. Its publications and software for human resource professionals include Human Resources Management, Pension Plan Guide, Benefits Guide and Payroll Management Guide. CCH is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer U.S. The CCH web site can be accessed at The Human Resources Group web site can be accessed at

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