Floods can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to a business’s stock, plant, equipment, furniture and fittings as well as be a threat to the safety of your employees and customers. Damage may be caused by water accumulation, debris, humidity, contamination, mold and power disruption.
It frequently takes a week or more to clean up after a flood, adding to costs and stress, and reducing income potential. A business may have to close for an extended period of time, it could take several weeks or months for business to return to normal. Customers may take their business elsewhere.
Developing a Business Flood Safe Plan can:
- save lives and prevent injury;
- comply with WorkSafe BC regulations;
- reduce damage to stock, plant, equipment and fittings;
- reduce the amount of time that you can’t conduct business;
- ensure customers will return when the business reopens;
- minimize the loss of profits;
- protect employment;
- protect the business’s reputation and image.
How Much Could a Flood Cost A Business?
Answer these questions to find out.
- What is the replacement cost ($) of stock, plant, equipment and fittings located up to 1.5m above your floor level?
Total Cost $_____________
- If closed for one week to clean up, what would be the value of fixed costs such as wages, rent and loan repayments that require payment regardless of whether or not your business is operating?
- What would be the profit ($) loss if your business was closed for a week?
Weekly profit $ _______________
Total Loss (add all three categories): $______________
- Does the business’s insurance coverage include “flood” coverage?
The flood calculator produces an estimated amount that the business may lose if it were flooded to approximately one and a half metres above floor level. Losses will increase with greater depths of flooding.
Being Flood Safe is not expensive or time consuming. It is your best insurance to minimize damage.
Making a Flood Safe Plan
Before You Begin
It is important to understand what type of flooding could affect the business and what are the chances of a flood event occurring. It is also important to consider the WorkSafe BC regulations.
Winters with heavy snow accumulation can cause extensive spring freshet, or extended periods of high rainfall over a catchment area may result in river and/or creek systems overbanking. Businesses may also be affected by flooding indirectly, even if the business premises are not actually inundated with water access, roads may be closed and power, water, and the telephone may not be operable.
If flooding is a known risk, the business must minimize risks relating to flooding for all employees and customers. There are numerous potential risks to the health and safety of employees and customers associated with flooding, particularly if your business provides accommodation. It is important to identify procedures to be followed during and after a flood and provide details of how risks will be managed in the business’s OH&S plan.
During a Flood
- If flooding is imminent, the main priority is to ensure the safety of employees and customers.
- Employees who are away from the business premises should be told not to return until floodwater has receded. Never drive, ride or walk through floodwater, this is the largest cause of death during floods.
- Ensure that employees and occupants have enough time to evacuate to a safe location;
- Consider safety in handling of stock, equipment and furniture;
- Make sure there is adequate light as flood preparations may need to be made at night or in overcast conditions;
- Operating employees may require protective clothing such as solid non-slip footwear;
- Avoid entering floodwater outside the building on foot or in vehicles, there is a risk of electrocution, drowning, and injury from submerged objects or uneven ground.
After a Flood
- Only re-enter the premises after floodwater have completely subsided and it is safe to do so.
- Undertake a risk assessment before entering the building such as:
- structural safety of buildings;
- safety of electrical and gas supplies;
- are floors slippery, and is there potential for falls in the mud and water;
- contamination (e.g. sewage, chemicals and disease in the water);
- safety of plant and equipment;
- sharp debris;
- venomous animals (e.g. snakes and spiders seek refuge in buildings and debris).
Establish safe procedures for:
- ensuring wiring, electrical appliances, and other electrical installations are deemed safe by a licensed electrician or licensed electrical inspector before appliances are connected and turned on;
- cleaning up, repairing and re-stocking;
The Business Flood Safe Plan should form part of the Business Continuity Plan.
Safety is Prevention