Disaster Preparedness: Is Your Toolkit Complete?
News coverage of damage from flooding, fires and tornados is a reminder that having a well-developed disaster plan is important if the firm is to recover should a disaster strike. Man-made disasters such as computer hacking can cause massive damage, if not total destruction, to an office. An established plan can safeguard a firm.
For a plan to work when it's needed, it has to be tested and tweaked. Equipment is often replaced, accounts or passwords change, and employees come and go. The disaster plan should be updated so that the information available is correct.
The Safety Guru
The easiest way to keep a plan in tip top shape is to have a safety guru responsible for the plan and implementation. This guru will keep the disaster recovery kit up to date and will keep your firm prepared for action in the event of a disaster.
The safety guru may wish to conduct the office safety inspection during the insurance renewal period. Linking the safety inspection and insurance renewal will make changes to the coverage seamless. Question whether the insurance covers all of the potential threats. Pairing the inspection with insurance renewal will also ensure that the inspection doesn't fall through the cracks.
Safety Inspection Checklist
During the annual safety inspection, having a checklist will be helpful. The checklist will provide the safety guru with what needs to be reviewed since some items might otherwise be overlooked. An inspection checklist might look something like this:
- Review potential hazards
- Natural disasters (floods, tornadoes, hurricanes)
- Technological disasters (fire, hard drive crashes, gas line breakage)
- Physical threats (bomb threat, violent intruder)
- Health issues (epidemics, disability, death)
- Review safety procedures
- Fire extinguisher inspection
- First aid kit maintenance (replace any outdated items)
- Restock emergency supplies
- Safety training review for employees
- Update Recovery Information
- Employee contact information
- Equipment serial numbers and vendor contact information
- Account numbers, banking information, and other contracts
- Insurance information
- Inventory of equipment and files, including storage
- Test computer backup restore procedures
Keeping Client Files Safe
Knowing that clients are the lifeblood of the firm, just backing up the computer data isn't enough to protect client files. What about those cases involving irreplaceable physical evidence? Preparations must be made to ensure client property and evidence is safeguarded.
The safety guru should inspect the procedures for protecting physical evidence and client property. Are these irreplaceable items stored in a fire-proof, water-proof cabinet or safe that would protect them from a disaster? Are they stored offsite in a bank vault or safety deposit box where disaster is less likely to occur? While the guru can't protect items that were simply placed in files, the guru can ensure that items indicated as irreplaceable are protected to the best of the firm's ability.
Starting from Scratch
If there is no established disaster plan, now is the best time to start. Disaster doesn't wait for victims to be prepared before it strikes. Having a plan will save headaches in the future.
Creating a disaster plan doesn't have to be a daunting task. Approach it like an annual review. Identify a safety guru for the office and identify risks. Establish safety procedures as a response to those risks. Be sure to have appropriate insurance to cover any threat.
To help with disaster planning, Lawyers Mutual has developed a "Disaster Planning and Recovery" handout. In addition to tips for approaching plan development, we've included sample forms and checklists.
Samantha Cruff is the Marketing Communications Coordinator at Lawyers Mutual. Contact Samantha for information regarding our available risk management publications at 800.662.8843 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Samantha Cruff is the Marketing Communications Coordinator at Lawyers Mutual. Contact Samantha for information regarding our available risk management publications at 800.662.8843 or email@example.com.Read More by Samantha >