April 1, 2006
Do you know when the next natural disaster is going to strike your plant?
No one knows with absolute certainty what the outcome is going to be when Mother Nature is having a bad day, so it pays to be prepared. Certainly every dairy processor has some codified disaster or crisis management plan that they hope they’ll never have to use.
But are you ever truly prepared for the unforeseen results of nature’s brute force?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers tips for disaster preparedness for both homes and businesses. The agency presents a three-pronged approach for businesses: plan to stay in business, talk to your people and protect your investment.
Perhaps the most important part of that first prong is risk assessment — knowing exactly what incident your facility could experience and how best to meet it. Then plan for continuity of operations, including all business functions and an order of management succession. Next, ensure two-way communication with employees in the event of evacuation, so they know how to check in for status reports and you can confirm their safety.
Talking to your people means involving employees from all areas of your operation in disaster planning. Conduct drills to be prepared for the real thing.
Protecting your investment includes securing your facility before evacuating, preparing for disruptions of essential utilities and ensuring protection of air from contaminants that might breach your plant’s walls.
But even with all this preparation, you’re still never quite prepared for the unexpected. That’s what happened at Brown’s Dairy, the focus of this month’s cover story. Like any responsible Gulf Coast operation, Brown’s — a New Orleans institution for 100 years — has a detailed disaster plan that has played out numerous times during the annual hurricane season.
But as you’ll read in this issue, Hurricane Katrina set in motion a monumental combination of events that even the best disaster plan could not stop from causing extensive havoc. Of course, being highly organized did ease the pain for Brown’s in restoring service amid the chaos, and its leaders now know what was once the unexpected is a distinct possibility for the future.
You can learn something from Brown’s Dairy. There’s also more information on disaster preparedness at www.ready.gov, or call (800) BE-READY.$OMN_arttitle="Be Ready";?>