Critical items for a builder’s storm-preparedness plan

A storm is brewing

A builder’s storm-preparedness plan should be completed early in the year and updated during every storm season. A storm-preparedness plan is typically required by project owners and insurance companies in order to reduce discounted rates and other benefits. The plan can become quite complex depending on the type of business you have, and, if not done properly, it can have significant cost implications during storm season.

Related: How to create a disaster recovery plan for your business 

Before the storm

Creating a storm-preparedness plan is a best practice every builder should do every year –
the earlier the better. Start by assigning a project lead with sufficient knowledge on your business operation, assets and potential areas of risks. The person in charge is responsible for ensuring the protocol is followed when the plan is activated, usually following a severe weather watch or warning as issued by your local weather authority.

The plan must have provisions for before, during and after the storm, as well as provisions for continuous responses during events that can last for several days, not just a short period of time.

All employees should have access to the storm-preparedness plan at every construction site, including management offices. It should be kept in strategic locations in case of a catastrophic event. Certain provisions need to be added for specific construction sites, depending on location, weather patterns or materials being used. For example, a construction site in Florida will need provisions for hurricanes, while a site in Kansas will need tornado provisions.

Required sections in a storm-preparedness plan

Storm Preparedness Building

At minimum, your storm-preparedness plan must have the following sections:

Hazard awareness

This section must include steps on when to activate the plan and should identify a responsible person for each construction site.

Preparation

Define emergency protocols that will be in place during the storm.

Housekeeping

Outline roles and responsibilities for securing assets, tools, materials and clean-up activities, and spell out how it will be done. Make sure all loose items are secured, temporary locations are protected and a communication plan is ready and available.

Response protocol

Identify the key participants who must be accessible before, during and after the storm.

Post-storm

Clearly define the priorities for assessment and clean-up, including when to resume operations, as well as key personnel who will be assigned to assess damage and compile information for insurance companies.

Key storm-preparedness plan items

Your storm-preparedness plan must contain, at a minimum, the following items, as applicable:

  • Phone numbers and address for SPOC (single point of contact) for each construction site.
  • List of available insurance coverage and contact person for each insurance provider.
  • Documents, photos and videos of pre-storm conditions.
  • Inventory of material on site, inspection documents and documents related to permits.
  • A logistics plan in case roads are not accessible.
  • A communication system that can be used to notify employees on when to return to work.

You also should:

  • Make sure there is a protocol to verify offices have battery-operated radios, potable water, fire extinguishers and first-aid kits.
  • Survey existing property lines, fences and trees that could affect your property.
  • Avoid storing materials on low lying areas.
  • Identify a protocol to inspect storm sewer systems.
  • Make sure all dumpsters are serviced before the storm.
  • Secure all cranes and equipment that extend more than one story high.
  • Make sure dewatering pumps are available and in working order.
  • Have portable generators available to, at minimum, power the site office.
  • Anchor all scaffolds, tools, lumber, temporary sheds and small structures.
  • Ensure that all beams are continuous along open excavations (If possible, do not leave open trenches on site unless protected by shoring equipment and material.)
  • Maintain all electronic equipment at higher places and have cameras ready to document damages.
  • Keep a copy of insurance coverage and claim forms accessible — remember power might not be back for a couple of days.
  • Shut off gas lines and turn off the main breaker to avoid fire hazards.
  • Remove portable toilets from the construction site.
  • Install storm shutters at potential critical locations that contain sensitive information or important assets.
  • Have erosion and sediment controls in place and properly inspected prior to the storm.
  • Have sandbags available or located at key locations if the area is prone to flooding.

Storm Preparedness Cranes

It is important that your storm-preparedness plan contain a procedure to deal with hazardous materials and that all applicable material safety data sheets are available.

These are some of the key items that must be addressed as part of a storm-preparedness plan before, during and after the storm.

The plan should be adjusted for different weather conditions as applicable to your area.

 

Remember to review and modify every year and make sure the appropriate people and phone numbers are updated before the storm season.

Juan Rodriguez
Juan Rodriguez is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and a registered professional engineer in Illinois and Puerto Rico with over 20 years of experience managing large civil projects. An expert in renewable energy, power projects and project management, he has international experience working in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Juan also offers his services as a consultant to construction firms and construction-related professionals. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.