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Small Businesses Fall Short on Disaster Preparedness

The ability to weather a natural disaster can be a life-or-death issue for businesses. . / Credit: Tornado damage image via Shutterstock

The ability to weather a natural disaster can be a life-or-death issue for businesses. But U.S. businesses both large and small appear to be giving that message short shrift. A recent survey shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans do not feel their employers are well-prepared for, or might not recover quickly from, a natural disaster. And small businesses are the worst offenders.

A study of more than 1,300 U.S. businesses commissioned by insurer FM Global found that 75 percent of their workers feel their employer is not well-prepared for a natural disaster, and 72 percent of those polled would not feel totally safe in their workplace during a natural disaster.

Additionally, the study finds 71 percent of U.S. workers are not fully confident their employer can bounce back quickly from a natural disaster. The survey comes on the heels of a record year for natural disasters in 2011. 

[Small Businesses Embrace Disaster Preparedness]

Small businesses with less than 1,000 employees fared more poorly than their larger cousins in terms of  not being prepared (81 percent versus 64 percent), inability to guarantee worker safety (76 percent versus 67 percent) and lack of confidence in the ability of the business to recover (77 percent versus 61 percent).

The approach of hurricane season gives this issue greater urgency since U.S. Department of Labor statistics indicate more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a natural disaster.

"Business resilience is more than just about getting back on your feet, it’s also about doing the right things to make sure you don’t get knocked down in the first place," said Jon Hall, executive vice president of FM Global. "The findings demonstrate how critical it is that business leaders better prepare for natural disasters and ensure those efforts are understood within the workplace. Not understanding how a business is prepared for disaster can adversely affect both employee performance and, ultimately, the health of a business."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and held a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.