Chamber Chat - Safety Summit

Apr 30

By Meg Moss


“There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full”. This quote from Henry Kissinger was prominently displayed at this week’s Safety Summit sponsored by Pfizer and Duke Energy. The Summit was meant to create awareness of safety in the workplace, help business owners and employees to be aware of the many ways they can make their workplace safer, avoid a crisis from happening in the first place, and what to do in the event of a crisis.

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, Pfizer felt it was important to share safety procedures and business continuity practices with our business community. You can’t wait for the threat of severe weather to come. You won’t have enough time to get ready.

A workplace crisis can come in many forms other than weather. It may be a chemical leak, a power outage in a critical business or organization, an active shooter entering a business, flooding, or an IT breach.

Whether you are a manufacturing facility, a school, retailer, grocery store, or small business with 2 -3 employees, safety should be a concern and a priority to the business owner and other leadership staff.

Things happen…are you ready? Does your business have a Business Continuity Plan? And if so, are all employees trained on how to implement it? A crisis will come whether you are ready or not, and businesses need to be available to customers and the community. According to the Summit held at the local Sanford Pfizer facility, “Business Continuity Management is the capability of the organization to continue delivery of critical products or services at acceptable predefined levels in the face of a disruptive event.”

One suggestion made at the Summit was for each business to have a good relationship with community emergency response personnel prior to an emergency. Build relationships with fire, police and EMS. Make sure they know your business. Invite them to your facility so that they know the type of business you do, the number of employees you have, any hazardous material you may use, and where shut off valves are located. This will help them to be better prepared when they arrive on site during an emergency. Let them know if you serve special needs populations, children or the elderly; and ask them to help you develop an evacuation plan. Once your plan is in place, practice that drill on a routine basis so that all staff are trained on the plan.

The Safety Summit was free, and available to all businesses, however the primary attendees of the conference were manufacturing facilities from Lee and surrounding counties. Some of the local agencies that attended the Summit were Nobile Oil, Central Carolina Community College Industry Services, Belflex, STI Polymer, and the City of Sanford.

Businesses need to prepare for a crisis, respond to it, recover from it, and get back to business.  A crisis at a place of business can often lead to media coverage. Have a media plan in place. Have planned press releases. It’s a good thing to go ahead and talk to the media. Give them to basics of who, what, where and why. It’s okay to tell them “I don’t know”. And allow them some type of photo op. Not only do you need to get back to serving your customers, but you need to consider your reputation.

Another thing to consider is how long can your product, service or process be down before there is a major impact to your finances, operations, an impact to your customers, and/or compliance regulations. Pre-planning can help you have a shorter recovery time.

For additional information on Business Continuity, you can visit the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) at The BCI offers a wide range of resources for business professionals concerned with raising levels of resilience within their organization, and seeks to promote and facilitate the adoption of good business continuity practices.

Be safe out there! 

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