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Hurricane season is here - is your business ready?

With hurricane season approaching, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is urging workplaces and communities to be prepared, and is offering a variety of safety resources to assist businesses.

“This is important for all businesses to do throughout the year, even more so now since the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted another dangerous hurricane season,” says ASSE President Jack H. Dobson, Jr., CSP.

The hurricane season runs from June through November. ASSE is offering safety preparation tips, a disaster safety checklist, mold information and resources to assist businesses of all sizes before, during and after a disaster.

According to an October 2005 survey of small businesses conducted by the Ad Council, 92 percent of respondents said that it is very important or somewhat important for businesses to take steps to prepare for a catastrophic disaster, such as an earthquake, hurricane or terrorist attack. However, only 39 percent said their company has a plan in place in the event of such a disaster.

“It is disappointing to learn that while most businesses believe emergency preparedness is important, not enough are taking the necessary steps to prepare. This needs to change,” says Dobson.

NOAA is predicting 13 to 16 named storms, with eight to ten becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become “major” hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher, for the 2006 hurricane season.

ASSE’s preparation tips (www.asse.org/newsroom) include doing a business risk assessment, developing a company emergency plan, defining crisis management procedures and individual responsibilities in advance, and coordinating with other community businesses and emergency officials by sharing your contingency plans.

After a disaster, ASSE suggests companies do a hazard evaluation and assessment performed by an occupational safety professional. This includes key areas such as structural security, clean-up safety, air quality assessment, ventilation, equipment safety, electrical safety, office furniture, sanitation issues, lighting, hazardous waste removal, power checks, computers and possible chemical leaks, surface safety, and updating one’s emergency plan.

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