Businesses must take steps to protect employees

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by KING5.com

NWCN.com

Posted on July 8, 2010 at 10:57 AM

SEATTLE – When a big quake rattles Seattle, the first order of business for any business is protecting lives.

The key to protecting your employees and your business is advance preparation.

“No one ever wakes up and says ‘today is a good day for an earthquake. I think I'll get ready for it,’” says Florence Crowther, Facilities Manager at KING TV.

Trained by disaster experts, Florence came up with emergency plans designed to protect the 400 people who work in the KING building - and to keep the station on the air.

“In the business that we're in, the community - the nation - is counting on us to tell them what's going on in Seattle at that time,” she says. “If we've taken the steps that we need to - unless it's an absolutely cataclysmic earthquake - then we're going to be able to continue conducting business.”

All employees take part in drills so they know how to protect themselves in a quake and they know how to evacuate the building. The front door is off-limits.

“We have a slanted glass facade, the weight of all that glass coming down on people could be fatal,” says Florence.

KING keeps an updated employee emergency call-out list.

“So our employees can focus on what they need to do here to deliver the news to the public and the community and not be worrying about the well-being of their families,” says Florence.

Emergency supplies are easy to access. A three-day stockpile of water and food is kept in a secure place for hundreds of staff members.

“This is a part of the building that, structurally, we felt was very sound and we could count on being able to get to this closet and get to these materials,” says Florence.

“We have even taken the steps if the sewers go down, we have liners that we can place in the commodes themselves,” she says.

The planning goes to one morbid extreme. We've even designated the basement exercise room as a temporary morgue.

“I think it's important for you to plan for the worst case scenario and then be able to respond to something much less serious,” says Florence.

The most important point: make sure everyone at work knows what to do and where to go in case of an emergency. Evacuation drills may seem like a waste of time, but in a real emergency, they could pay off by saving lives.

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