Extreme weather: Business continuity and damage limitation

  • Environmental concerns dominated the Global Risks Report 2020 'most likely' risks
  • Extreme weather events remained the most likely risk for the fourth consecutive year
  • With further extreme weather forecast it is important that plans are in place to reduce damage, and health and safety risk, wherever possible.

With environmental concerns dominating the most likely risks we’ll see in the 2020 Global Risks Report, and extreme weather events voted the most likely to occur this year for the fourth time in a row, it is important that organisations and individuals are prepared should instances occur.

Extreme weather events, such as Storm Brendan this month, can cause disruption across the UK with businesses and individuals suffering. Late last year, flooding in Yorkshire and the Midlands was estimated to have cost £110 million in claims, of which £58 million was for business property and stock – an average cost of £70,000 for flooded businesses.

It is important that organisations, both large and small, and individuals are aware of extreme weather events and have plans in place to reduce the damage where possible.

Business continuity

Organisations should approach extreme weather events such as storms and the ensuing winds and floods that could occur in two ways, from a business continuity and safety perspective, and from an employee safety standpoint too.

Planning for business continuity is crucial for every organisation, no matter the size. For larger organisations, whilst it is more likely that plans have been put in place previously such as backup generators for electricity, they will also need to ensure the safety of staff even if this means shutting offices.

Safety of staff can vary from organisation to organisation, and can differ depending on the type of storm – strong winds, for example, compared to flooding or snow. In places where working from home is an option, this is often a good way to ensure staff safety especially where travelling could prove dangerous. For those where this is difficult, alternatives should be considered ahead of time and planned for accordingly – if, for example, a call centre cannot safely get staff in, phone lines should be updated with an appropriate message and customers notified.

Damage Limitation

For smaller organisations extreme weather can often be disastrous. Flooding is a common result of extreme weather, and flooding can damage floors, equipment and stock if allowed in. Whilst often used for homes, sandbags can be a good way to fight against flooding entering a shop or office on ground level.

Similarly to small organisations, individuals should also take appropriate care and plan to defend their home where possible. Whilst some damage is inevitable, significant damage such as flooding can, at times, be prevented or damage limited. Ensuring that any wires are removed and stored high up, sandbags or an equivalent are placed outside the home to combat flooding, and any items of high valuables are moved either to a higher floor or moved above ground as much as possible are all ways to try and reduce the damage flooding can bring.

With further extreme weather forecast it is important that plans are in place to reduce damage, and health and safety risk, wherever possible.