mass notification, Severe Weather

In a Hurricane, a Mass Notification System Helps You Meet Duty of Care

By Shannon Gallo

It didn’t take long for the 2021 hurricane season to kick up a storm.

Tropical Storm Claudette – the third named storm of the year – made landfall in Louisiana on June 19 and continued up the East Coast, dropping heavy rain along the way. Claudette was preceded by Ana and Bill. Though it remained out to sea, Ana developed in late May and was the first named storm of the season – the seventh year in a row in which one occurred that early.

As an employer, what is your duty of care in a critical event and how can you ensure it’s met – especially if hurricane season is as busy as expected?

Relative to both day-to-day operations and preparation for extreme weather events, the law states an employer’s duty of care is to ensure the safety and health of both workers and their work environment. OSHA further advises that employers protect workers from hazards associated with any response and recovery operations following a disaster.

This means businesses must consider the many variables likely to affect their people before, during and after a hurricane. The first step is to understand the impact of a hurricane on business operations, and in fact, this is one of several areas in which artificial intelligence (AI) delivers a powerful advantage.

An AI-powered critical event management (CEM) platform ensures you gain early, enhanced insights into the full spectrum of hurricane threats specific to the locations of your operations. When given enough time to prepare, you’ll be able to mitigate risks and improve outcomes for people, places and property.

The Role of Communication in Duty of Care

If you’ve been through this drill before, you know fast, reliable communication is critical. If you can’t reach the right people at the right time with the right message, you won’t be able to keep everyone safe – or deliver on your duty of care obligation.

A mass notification system (MNS) not only helps you fulfill duty of care, but when integrated with your CEM, it can streamline your communications. For instance, during a hurricane, an MNS will allow you to deliver urgent notifications quickly and reliably via a wide variety of channels, including email, voice, text and even social media. Even if a few channels are unavailable due to the storm, this multimodal approach ensures your messages reach those who are impacted. Recipients can mark themselves safe or identify their location if they need help.

The Role of an MNS in Preparedness

Keep in mind an MNS can also make a crucial difference in every phase of disaster preparation – not just when a critical event is in progress. From running evacuation drills to sending out instructions on how to pack a go-bag, a reliable MNS can help you ensure everyone is prepared if they find themselves in the storm’s path.

Long before radar picks up the inklings of a storm, you can create targeted contact lists, pre-record voicemails and set delivery preferences. In addition, you can use your MNS to share preparation tips and links to resources to help your employees develop their home safety plans. After the storm, an MNS can help you identify the locations of displaced workers.

The 2021 hurricane season has only just started, and organizations will need to keep a sharp watch through November 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts we may see as many as 20 named storms over this time, and the White House is doubling emergency spending to help communities get ready for weather-related disasters.

To ensure you meet your duty of care obligations, don’t wait until the forecasters are giving the coordinates of the next storm. Now is the time to put your hurricane preparedness plans in place.

Ready to learn more about how to optimize your mass notification service so you can fulfill duty of care? Be sure to watch our webinar.