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How to be Prepared for an Earthquake at Work

The next earthquake will hit without warning, and you may be at work. Would you know what to do? 

Have you seen your company's Earthquake Emergency Action plan?

Wherever you work in New Zealand, you are at risk of an earthquake, according to NZ Civil Defense Emergency Management, so you need to take measures to be prepared.

Every moment matters after the first jolt of quake and being prepared makes a huge difference.

Here are some preparation tips to help you be earthquake prepared.

Prepare

  • Before an earthquake occurs, take precautions to minimize damage by using earthquake fasteners to fix computer equipment, cabinets and shelves to prevent them from falling to the floor or hitting someone. 
  • Keep the contents of the shelves in place using earthquake straps. 
  • Put heavy items on lower shelves so they don’t fall on people during the quake. Confirm that all of the exits in your office or building are marked with signs. 
  • Update your first aid supplies, and make sure everyone in your company knows how to find them. 
  • To avoid the loss of data, implement an on-site backup plan. Also, set up an off-site backup plan at a location that’s far enough away to not be affected by an earthquake in your area.

Protect

  • Have an evacuation plan: During the Canterbury Earthquake series, most injuries were caused by falling objects, so your plan should include actions to take if employees are trapped beneath debris. Remember, in an earthquake, it's common for one route out of a space to become blocked. Identify at least two evacuation routes in your plan.
  • Protect equipment in your office that is vital for you to do your job. Consider the potential danger from elements above your head like suspended ceilings, partition walls, pipes and services. Are these seismically restrained
  • Consider alternative ways you can communicate with one another after a quake to ensure everyone is safe.

Practice

  • Practice earthquake drills so everyone at work knows what to do. The safest thing to do in an earthquake is to drop to a hands-and-knees position, cover the head and neck under a table or desk if possible, and hold on to the item you choose for shelter. (Learn more about Drop, Cover, Hold here)
  • Discuss the steps outlined in your plan that focus on restarting operations after the office and building are deemed safe.
  • Provide a copy of your earthquake emergency plan to each team member, and include it in your orientation materials when hiring new staff.
  • Train employees to back up data on a regular basis if you don't use an automated backup system.




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