US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association
While hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms and depressions also can be devastating. The primary hazards from tropical cyclones are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes and high surf and rip currents. Employers can best protect themselves, their employees and their business from these hazards by conducting emergency planning for the hurricane season. Remember, few people can think clearly and logically in a crisis, so it is important to do so in advance when you have the time to be thorough.
Create a Plan. It is important to have an evacuation plan in place to ensure that workers can get to safety in case a tropical cyclone may affect the area. A thorough evacuation plan should include:
- Conditions that will activate the plan
- Chain of command
- Emergency functions and who will perform them
- Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits
- Procedures for accounting for personnel, customers and visitors
- Equipment for personnel
Conduct Employee Training. In addition to having evacuation plans in place, provide training for your employees to ensure that all workers know what to do in case of an emergency. It is important to be familiar with the warning terms used for hurricanes, as well as your local community’s emergency plans, warning signals and shelters. Practice evacuation plans on a regular basis and remember to update plans and procedures based on lessons learned from exercises. Show employees what disaster supply kits are (if you have them) and let them know where they are located.
Additional information on hurricane preparedness may be found at OSHA’s Preparedness webpage (https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/hurricane/preparedness.html) and the FEMA website Ready.gov. For further assistance regarding this topic, UVICELL Safety in Paradise can help small and medium-sized employers by providing free OSHA On-Site Consultation Services. To learn more about this free and confidential safety and occupational health program visit:
- OSHA On-Site Consultation: https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/consult.html
- UVICELL Safety in Paradise: http://safety.uvi.edu/
Please don’t hesitate to contact us directly with safety and health questions, to schedule a consultation, or with any other safety and occupational health concerns at our Safety in Paradise office at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to helping you!