5 Steps to Preparing Your Construction Site for Hurricanes
Hurricane season is approaching, and construction companies need to be prepared for the harsh weather ahead. If a company is not prepared, its site may be damaged, its equipment destroyed, and its employees severely injured. Here are 5 steps to follow to prepare your worksite for a hurricane.
STEP 1: WRITE DOWN A PLAN
The most important step is creating an emergency plan. Whether a detailed document or a small memo, it’s vital that companies write their hurricane preparedness plan well in advance of a storm. This should include detailed steps for onsite preparation and evacuation. The main goals should be to protect onsite workers and to prevent onsite damage to facilities and equipment.
STEP 2: INFORM YOUR STAFF
From the project manager to the IT guy, everyone in a company should be well-versed in the hurricane preparedness plan. If shelter is available onsite, then everyone must know where it is and how to reach it. If shelter is not available onsite, then there must be a detailed plan for evacuating to a safe area. Drills should be conducted regularly so that all employees can practice the evacuation plan. Update the plan as necessary when facilities or personnel change, or based on performance during a drill.
STEP 3: HAVE AN EMERGENCY KIT
Every work site should have an easily accessible emergency kit. This kit should be filled with supplies such as:
- Basic first aid supplies such as bandages, gauze, sterilizing solutions, latex gloves, etc.
- Non-perishable food
- Water for drinking and sanitation
- Emergency battery-operated electronics that can be used if the power goes down, such as a radio, a lantern or flashlight, and extra batteries
- An alert device such as an alarm or whistle
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties, and sanitary items for personal use (toilet paper, sanitary napkins, etc.)
- Tools such as wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, and a hammer
- External cell phone chargers
- Local maps and emergency contact information
STEP 4: MONITOR THE WEATHER
Be sure to monitor the weather regularly during hurricane season. Weather forecast sites will have the latest severe-weather alerts posted almost immediately, and storm notifications can be sent directly to an email or mobile number.
STEP 5: SECURE YOUR SITE & PREPARE FOR CLEANUP
Any equipment that can be stored indoors should be moved before the storm hits. All equipment that cannot be stored should be securely tied down so that it won’t be moved or damaged by a storm. It is important to safeguard onsite structures by boarding up open areas to prevent internal water damage. Construction debris, which can be moved by the wind and cause damage to structures or employees, should be regularly removed from the worksite. There should be a team, internal or third-party, ready to clean the area of hazardous chemicals, spilled fuel, or excess water once the storm has passed.
After the storm has passed and it has been deemed safe to return to the site, be sure to carefully and meticulously evaluate any damage. Exercise extreme caution when returning to work, as structures may have been damaged or weakened. Inspect storage tanks for contamination or leaks. Look for severe water damage or compromised structural elements, and repair before returning to normal operations.
When working during hurricane season, the keys to a safe construction site are preparation, communication, and organization.