Earthquake Safety – Prepare Your Workplace

For you Californians out there, according to the US Geological Survey, there is a 60% chance that a 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake will occur in California in the next 30 years.  I’ve been hearing that since elementary school so I don’t know how much longer we have if this is true. An earthquake of this size can can severely strain public services and disrupt business operations. The best way to survive an earthquake is to prepare before a big one hits. Here are some earthquake safety recommendations to consider for general guidance purposes.

Prepare your workplace for an earthquake

  • Large equipment such as boilers, tanks, and machines need to be secured properly so they will not fall over in an earthquake.
  • Furniture such as bookshelves and file cabinets along with storage racks and shelving should be strapped or attached to the wall to keep it stable and upright.
  • Survey your workspace to make sure that heavy items are stored at lower heights or secured so they won’t fall.
  • Photos and pictures should be hung onto the wall with screws or earthquake “j” clips.
  • Keep doors, exits, and aisle ways clear at all times for quick evacuations.
  • Keep areas under desks and tables uncluttered to make room to take cover in an earthquake.
  • Store chemicals properly and in compatible groups.

Gather emergency supplies for the workplace

  • Fire extinguishers should be charged and inspected monthly so they are always ready to use.
  • Periodically test fire alarms, sprinklers, and emergency lighting.
  • Keep flashlights, a radio, extra batteries, and a first aid kit on hand at all times.
  • Consider stockpiling food, water, blankets, and sanitary supplies such as toilet paper and portable toilets.
  • Keep enough supplies for the number of workers that may need to shelter or work at your facility after an earthquake.
  • Prepare personal emergency supplies for your desk and your car, including comfortable clothes and shoes, a flashlight and batteries, first aid kit, food, water, and necessary medications.

Make an emergency plan at work and at home

  • Businesses must have an emergency evacuation plan that details how employees will evacuate from the building, where they will meet, how to account for everyone, and how to get further instructions to act.
  • Current emergency contact phone numbers for all employees and management are critical in an emergency.
  • Businesses should also list and prioritize their functions in a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that ensures access to the people, materials, and other supplies needed to continue work after an earthquake.
  • Workers should have family emergency plans in place at home in case they are stranded at work or required to work after an earthquake.
  • Keep enough emergency supplies on hand to maintain your family for at least 3 days.
  • Make lists of emergency contact phone numbers and determine a meeting place for the family after an emergency.

Practice and train on your emergency procedures

  • Practice emergency evacuations.
  • Get training on first aid and CPR techniques.
  • Train and remember to Duck, Cover and Hold in an earthquake.  If you cannot take cover, stand against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms.
  • Practice your business recovery procedures by inspecting and restarting equipment and computers in the proper and prioritized order.

Earthquakes aren’t planned, but you can at least plan and practice earthquake safety measures to increase your chances of survival.

Keep in mind that standard property insurance policies exclude coverage for damages resulting from earth movement, including earthquakes. Read more about it here. In order to cover your home or business for earthquake damage, you must purchase a separate earthquake insurance policy.


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About Jimmy Kinmartin - Business Insurance & Risk Management Broker

Jimmy is a California licensed Property & Casualty AND Accident & Health insurance agent working at the ISU - Olson Duncan Insurance brokerage in Torrance, CA. He grew up in Fullerton, CA and graduated from Servite High School in Anaheim and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Tustin, CA. Have questions? Just ask! Or, follow Jim on Twitter at @JimKinmartin

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