Hurricane Preparedness: A Builder’s Responsibility

During severe weather, you are responsible for securing your jobsites for the protection of your employees, the public and property — as well as for yourself. Materials such as plywood, loose debris and scraps of two-by-fours become missiles capable of impaling buildings, brick walls and anything in their way. Construction debris can cause severe damage to property, and can cost lives. Any failure to take the necessary measures may result in lawsuits, fines, loss of license or other actions permitted by state laws or local ordinances.

Create a Natural Disaster Plan
A good business plan usually covers different kinds of events, such as recessions and high demand. An excellent business plan, however, should also include details for natural disaster preparation.
• Use a Hurricane Preparation Plan to assist with your preparedness measures, and to assure your jobsites are protected as much as possible.
• Review your insurance coverage. Be aware of whether you have contents coverage, replacement value and loss of business coverage.
• Keep important telephone numbers with you.
• Develop a “telephone tree” with important members of your company, and a contingency plan to operate out of another site if needed. Establish a contact point out of the area so your employees and subs can keep in touch. Don’t depend just on your cell phone. Use the phone of a friend, relative or a builder friend outside your area for contact. Make sure your customers and suppliers know where to reach you.

Once a Hurricane is Approaching
As a general rule, keep all jobsites clean, arrange for timely pickup of trash dumpsters, and only keep materials on the jobsite that you will actually install in any given week. Keep construction equipment secure or remove it from the jobsite. Once you become aware of an impending hurricane, or once a hurricane watch is issued, arrange to have dumpsters removed — and postpone any planned supply deliveries.

When a hurricane warning is issued, remove all dumpsters and scaffolding and remove — or safely secure — all building materials and equipment. Alert subs of their responsibility to secure or remove their materials and equipment. Stop job processes likely to become damaged during the storm. Finally, follow through with a quick jobsite inspection.

Computers are indispensable equipment for many builders, so be sure to have a disaster plan in place. Keep your computers in a safe location with surge protection and, if you deem it important, an uninterruptible power supply. To avoid delays due to closed or inaccessible office supply stores, have extra supplies of ink cartridges, paper and computer discs available. Keep important office supplies stored in a secure location, possibly off-site. When a hurricane warning is issued, back up all important files and keep the backup tapes or discs in a secure location.

Visit the OSHA website for more details on hurricane preparedness.