Tropical storms and hurricanes can have an adverse effect – or even destroy - your construction site. Understanding your risks, developing a construction site hurricane plan and taking proper action in the wake of an impending storm can all help mitigate on-site losses. Equipment, personnel and the construction site itself must all be considered during hurricane season preparation. The following steps for before, during and after a storm will help ensure business continuity.
Before the storm
Develop a construction site hurricane plan. According to FEMA, as many as 75% of businesses without a continuity plan fail within three years of a natural disaster, like a hurricane.1 Compose a document that includes responsibilities and action plans for project managers and superintendents overseeing each project. FEMA suggests this includes plans for: staff, surroundings, space, systems, structure and services. Consider a business assessment first to better outline the action plan.
Establish an emergency control center. Should you have to evacuate a job site, or your office, where is your new control center? From personnel to demobilizing and moving equipment, a new central location could be necessary. Plan for it now.
Secure your sites. Analyze what might be needed to batten down all materials on your job sites. Will plywood maintain the integrity of the materials on your job site so the hurricane can’t penetrate? How can you secure the perimeter of the building you’re working on? Review and engage any vendor that might be able to help with your recovery. Consider security necessary to access your construction zones if they need remediation post hurricane.
Back up your data. Whether it’s the cloud, or a physical server housed remotely, back up your data beyond your office to ensure that a hurricane won’t affect your client, vendor and employee data. Make sure your internal network can be accessed offsite, and that you can pay employees and order materials remotely.
In the wake of an impending storm
Host a critical path meeting. As the tropical storm develops and sets its path, estimate the long-term effects of the hurricane delay on your project completion. Because there is a potential for liquidated damages if your construction company fails to complete the project in the agreed-upon timeline, you’ll want to be upfront and transparent with your client as to potential setbacks. Hold a critical path meeting to discuss the exact path and severity of the hurricane, will there be work to fix/re-do should the cyclone hit your job site? How much site clean-up could potentially be required?
Deenergize job sites. Shut off gas and energy lines, remove extra fuel, gas or diesel to prevent explosions or environmental leaks, etc.
Photograph/video the job site before the storm. Should there be a claim post-hurricane, being able to illustrate your use of best practices when securing the site will be critical. This could include an issue with surrounding property or equipment flying away. Having real images could reduce or eliminate negligence claims.
Have a skeleton response team on hand. Once the hurricane has subsided, your local response team should be deployed immediately. This may first need local authorities to provide them permission to access the area potentially in lockdown.
Go first to job sites that are most heavily affected. While there, take notes and pictures of the damage. Begin to estimate a timeline of how you can ramp the job back up again.
Determine what’s needed for in-house repair. What percentage of personnel is needed to repair the firm’s existing jobs, and which workers/equipment can be farmed out to meet the demands of new repair work? Be strategic. Ask yourself: In order to meet the post-hurricane labor demands, how much of the workforce must be allocated to existing jobs, and which staff can take on new work?
Contact your HUB risk services specialist to help your construction firm establish a construction site hurricane plan and best practices for before, during and after a storm.