Monday, September 22, 2014

Someone Else's Crisis: Don't Let It Become Yours

      The crisis that can put you out of business, temporarily or permanently, is not always of your own making.
      Frequently we remind clients how very important it is to survey their surroundings and try to identify the things that can go wrong outside of their own facilities and property. You may have a small neighborhood business, or a medium size auto repair shop, or a well established community bank, or a nursery school or popular watering hole/restaurant.
     You may be operating in the shadow of an elevated expressway that has cars and big trucks whistling by within blocks of your business, or a CSX or Southern Railroad track that runs near your neighborhood on its way to and from bigger businesses not all that far away.
     You may have been going to work every day for years without ever thinking about the 24-inch steel pipeline buried underground 100-yards from the front door of your business carrying volatile oil, or gas or chemicals to customers on the other side of town.
     No matter how big or small your workplace is . . . No matter how many or how few employees you have . . . not only must you assess the things that can go wrong in your office, business or not-for-profit, but you must be constantly evaluating all the things that can go wrong and out of your control.
     The United States Government Accountability Office released a report this week which concluded: “Without timely action to address safety risks posed by increased transport of oil and gas by pipeline and rail, additional accidents that could have been prevented or mitigated may endanger the public and call into question the readiness of transportation networks in the new oil and gas environment.” Not to mention the disruption or destruction of your own business just because of where it is located.
     More than 400,000 carloads of crude oil were transported over North American rail track in 2013, compared to only 9,500 tanker loads in 2008. There were a handful of headline grabbing train wrecks in recent months that should get your attention and motivate you to prepare your own crisis plan if it happens again near your workplace. Just think about the awful disaster near a small town in Quebec, where a fiery tank train crash destroyed much of the town and killed nearly 50 residents.
    Don’t put off another week. Survey the area around your business or organization’s facilities. Look at the surrounding road access and egress. Make a list of things that can go wrong and begin work on a plan to deal with: “if this happens, what can we do?”

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