BC 020101 Environmental Disasters

The BCP Project Team will need to examine each potential environmental disaster or emergency situation. The focus should be on the level of business disruption potentially likely to result from each situation. Potential emergencies include business disruption caused by one or more of the following environmental disasters.

Tornadoes are tight columns of circling air creating a funnel shape. The wind forces within the tornado can reach over 200 miles per hour. Tornadoes can often travel in excess of 50 miles per hour. They can cause significant structural damage and can also cause severe injuries and death.

Hurricanes are storms with heavy circular winds exceeding 60 miles per hour. The eye or centre of the hurricane is usually calm. The hurricane contains both extremely strong winds and torrential rain. Hurricanes can cause flooding, massive structural damage to homes and business premises with associated power failures, and even injury and death.

Floods result from thunderstorms, tropical storms, snow thaws or heavy and prolonged rainfall causing rivers to overflow their banks and flood the surrounding areas. Floods can seriously affect buildings and equipment causing power failures and loss of facilities and can even result in injury or death.

Snowstorm conditions can include blizzards, strong winds, freezing temperatures with significant amounts of snow. Snow and ice can impact power and communications and employees may be unable to travel to work due to the impact on public transport or road conditions. It is possible for buildings to collapse under the weight of snow and injuries or even death could occur through freezing temperatures and icy conditions.

Droughts are caused through lack of rainfall and can have a devastating affect on human life, animal life and plant life. These conditions are often seasonal and some regions of the world are more prone to these extreme conditions. Severe droughts can cause considerable loss and suffering to human life. There can also be significant affects on businesses that depend on the availability of water for their products or processes.

Earthquakes are caused by a shifting of the earth's rock plates beneath its surface resulting in violent shaking and movement of the earth's upper surface. Severe earthquakes can destroy power and communication lines and disrupt gas, water and sewerage services. Significant damage to structures can occur including total collapse of buildings, bridges or other elevated structures. Earthquakes can also bring landslides, damage to dams, and aftershocks and resulting damage can hinder rescue efforts. In addition to being trapped in a collapsing building, of particular danger to human life is the possibility of falling glass or other objects.

The impact of lightning strikes can be significant. It can cause disruption to power and can also cause fires. It may also damage electrical equipment including computer systems. Structural damage is also possible through falling trees or other objects.

Fires are often devastating and can be started through a wide range of events which may be accidental or environmental. Deliberate fires caused through arson are dealt with in topic BC 020102. The impact on the business will vary depending on the severity of the fire and the speed within which it can be brought under control. A fire can cause human injury or death and damage can also be caused to records and equipment and the fabric or structure of premises.

Subsidence and landslides are often caused through a change in the composition of the earth's surface. This change can often result from flooding, where flowing water can create cavernous open areas beneath structures. Subsidence or landslides can cause structural damage and can also disrupt transport services and affect travelling conditions.

Freezing conditions can occur in winter periods and the effects can be devastating. Where temperatures fall in excess of - 30( Centigrade they can create conditions which significantly disrupt businesses and even cause death or injury. Businesses and homes can be seriously affected through burst pipes, inadequate heating facilities, disruption to transportation and malfunctioning equipment. Work undertaken outside of buildings in the open environment will obviously be seriously affected.

Contamination and environmental hazards include polluted air, polluted water, chemicals, radiation, asbestos, smoke, dampness and mildew, toxic waste and oil pollution. Many of these conditions can disrupt business processes directly and, in addition, cause sickness among employees. This can result in prosecution or litigation if more permanent damage to employees' health occurs.

An epidemic can occur when a contagious illness affects a large number of persons within a country or region. This can have a particularly devastating short term impact on business through a large number of persons being absent from work at the same time. Certain illnesses can have a longer term effect on the business where long term illness or death results. An example of this extreme situation is occurring in certain third world countries where the Aids virus is considered to be of epidemic proportions.

Each of the above scenarios to be used within the planning process needs to be developed and examined in detail and an analysis prepared of the consequences of each potential threat. Each scenario should also be assessed for possibility of occurrence (probability rating) and possible impact (impact rating).

 

PROBABILITY RATING

IMPACT RATING

SCORE

LEVEL

SCORE

LEVEL

1

VERY HIGH

1

TERMINAL

2

HIGH

2

DEVASTATING

3

MEDIUM

3

CRITICAL

4

LOW

4

CONTROLLABLE

5

VERY LOW

5

IRRITATING

 

(To complete the relevant section of the Business Continuity Plan, click here)

 

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This information is derived from the BCP Generator
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