Preparing your business this bushfire season

Preparing your business this bushfire season

With the bushfire season rapidly approaching in Australia, it almost seems that 2020 is moving from one disaster to another. This means that it’s time to review your preparations for the bushfire season to ensure that you reduce your business’s risks as much as possible. It’s a given that you can’t get out of the path of a fire if it’s heading your way, but there are steps you can take to mitigate your risks.

1. Review your buildings and surroundings

How much you can reduce the risks to your buildings will depend on whether you are the owner or tenant of the premises. If the latter, then it’s a good idea to discuss as many of the following steps as relevant with the lessor.

  • Gutters need to be cleaned of flammable debris.
  • Ensure all combustible materials are stored securely away from the main buildings.
  • Consider installing fire rated windows, doors and glass to the exterior of the building.
  • Clear away all ground debris from around the immediate vicinity of the buildings.
  • If surrounded by bush or grasslands, consider clearing to reduce fire loads.
  • Make sure all emergency exits are accessible and can be opened easily.
2. Review your bushfire action plan

This is the plan that will come into effect immediately if you are notified that a bushfire is headed in your direction. To ensure that everyone exits the buildings quickly and safely, here are a few tips:

  • Train staff in first aid and ensure that emergency kits are up-to-date and accessible. 
  • Designate who will be in charge of the evacuation, who will ensure that specific company assets are secured, and who will be in charge of roll call.
  • Identify evacuation routes from the buildings and where people will assemble outside.
  • Make sure that all employees’ contact details and next of kin information are secured and taken from the building during the evacuation.
  • Ensure that all employees have access to your bushfire action plan.
3. Review your business continuity plan

This involves planning how you will continue to trade if your buildings, supplies, equipment and machinery are all a total loss in a bushfire. For example, an online store can take the place of your physical building, but where would you store all your supplies? Where would you set up your temporary factory, offices and warehouse? What if your suppliers are also affected by the bushfires? Another point is to make sure that all your business data is safely stored on the cloud, so that it’s available when you restart trading. 

4. Review your insurance policies

Insurance isn’t something you can simply set and forget, because this will likely result in your business being under-insured. One big reason for businesses being under insured are the lower premiums, but it can also be due to a lack of attention or apathy. 

It can also be due to genuinely undervaluing your assets, which is why we recommend that you have your business premises and assets revalued every year. These valuations should include the costs of demolition and rebuilding, new fences, external gates, machinery, vehicles, and so on. Also consider Business Interruption Insurance, because this will allow you to keep paying your employees and all your bills while you start rebuilding from the bushfires.

To decide what type of insurance policies are suitable for your business, talk to an insurance specialist today and find your local adviser.

General Advice Warning

The information provided is to be regarded as general advice. Whilst we may have collected risk information, your personal objectives, needs or financial situations were not taken into account when preparing this information. We recommend that you consider the suitability of this general advice, in respect of your objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on it. You should obtain and consider the relevant product disclosure statement before making any decision to purchase this financial product.

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