June 1 is the official start of hurricane season in Canada, which runs through November. Hurricanes bring with them very strong winds and heavy rain, which can cause flooding, take down power lines, damage buildings, etc. So ensure that your workplace is protected from the safety hazards that can result from hurricanes and other natural disasters.
According to the Canadian Hurricane Centre (CHC), you should take these five steps to prepare for hurricane season:
Step #1: Learn about hurricanes. Find out if hurricanes could be a threat to your workplace. Go to the Climatology section of the CHC website to learn if you’re in an area that’s vulnerable to tropical cyclones and to see what such cyclones have done in the past. In particular, visit the section on Hazards and Impacts, which outlines the four basic threats posed by hurricanes or tropical storms in Canada:
Step #2: Secure your workplace. Take steps to secure your facility and make it less vulnerable to storms. For example, ensure the roof can withstand high winds and take steps to protect lower levels from flooding.
Step #3: Ensure emergency plans address natural disasters. Every workplace should have emergency preparedness and response plans for events such as fires or explosions. Such plans should also address extreme weather conditions, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards. Make sure all employees know what to do, where to go and how to stay connected to information sources. Your company’s plan should be based on its vulnerability to hurricane hazards and in writing. And all staff should be trained on it.
Step #4: Create emergency supply kits. Have key emergency supplies on hand, such as flashlights and batteries, radios, extra water, etc. And ensure that workers who travel on the job have emergency kits in their vehicles.
Step #5: Stay informed. Make sure that you know where to get the latest weather forecasts and public announcements. During a disaster, battery-operated radios are the most reliable way to get information. But in the days leading up to a hurricane, certain websites will provide the best up-to-the-minute information. For example, get information on approaching storms from the CHC, including watches and warnings. You can also sign up for email alerts on hurricanes.
Visit the OHS Insider’s Emergency Preparedness & Response Compliance Centre for information, resources and tools on preparing for and responding to hurricanes and other kind of emergencies, including:
- An infographic on emergencies that includes hurricanes and tropical storms
- 8 emergency preparedness and response tips
- Workplace Flood Preparedness & Response Checklist
- Information on dealing with the aftermath of a flood.