A business continuity plan details how every aspect of your business may be affected by a service disruption, and how you will maintain it during short or long-term outages. As a business owner your plan will help you be better equipped to:
- Remain competitive by staying open for business;
- Reduce any financial losses;
- Identify possible gaps in planning;
- Improve dealings with banks, creditors, investors, and insurers by showcasing business resilience; and
- Protect staff and customers from harm.
To get started on your business continuity plan, read the Business Continuity Handbook and download the Business Continuity Template. Before completing the template, understand the various ways your business can be disrupted by learning about the Top 10 hazards in York Region.
TOP HAZARDS IN YORK REGION:
1. Infectious Diseases
Infectious diseases and emerging infectious diseases continue to be ranked as some of the top hazards for York Region. Businesses can prepare for the impacts of infectious disease transmission in the workplace with flexible work arrangement policies, sick policies, and proper personal protective equipment. Also, proper infection prevention and control measures should be implemented to keep clients and staff safe.
For more information visit Infectious Diseases and Outbreak Management | York Region.
Tornadoes are a severe threat that can affect businesses in York Region. Tornado season runs from March to October with peak activity in late June or early July. Tornadoes can cause significant damage to buildings in their path. Often, the best way to protect businesses against a tornado is to have the proper insurance that will help recover the losses. Buildings can also be made less susceptible to tornado damage. Businesses may consider leasing or occupying properties built with structural mitigation measures.
3. Electrical Energy Outages (Winter)
A power outage occurs when the systems that generate and bring electricity to your business fail in some way. Power outages can be especially harmful during the colder winter months as they can disrupt heating systems and lead to pipes freezing. It is recommended businesses consider procurement of back-up generators and surge protectors for critical equipment in the event of a power loss.
For any power critical components such as computers, alarm systems, or other valuable electronics, an uninterruptible power supply may be considered. Uninterruptible power supplies typically have batteries large enough to keep critical equipment operational until power can be restored. Businesses that store or serve food need to take additional precautions and should follow the Food Safety for Operators during a Power Outage Fact Sheet.
For more information also visit the Power Outage Factsheet.
4. Cyber Attacks
Cyber attacks can affect anyone and any business. Proper cyber security measures must be in place. At a minimum, this means having a strong password, multi-factor authentication and data back ups. If unsure about cyber security, it is best to consult an expert.
5. Winter Weather / Ice Storms
Winter weather is nothing new to Canadians. However, it is not something to get complacent on. If a business involves staff commuting, vehicles should have emergency kits and appropriate tires. Also, businesses should ensure snow is cleared and walkways are free of ice to avoid any possible slips, trips, or falls of customers or staff at their place of work. Also remember winter weather and ice storms can cause power outages.
Visit Emergency Preparedness: Making a Kit to get ready for winter.
6. Active Threats
York Regional Police is proud to take the lead on educating businesses on life-saving strategies that can be used in the event of an active attacker. York Regional Police provides information and guidance that employers can review with staff to give them the best chance of survival in case of an attack.
For more information about Run, Hide, Defend, the comprehensive active attacker survival strategy, visit RunHideDefend@yrp.ca or call the Public Safety Unit at 1-866-876-5423.
7. High Winds
In 2022, high winds affected businesses during the derecho that swept across southern Ontario. Prepare for high winds like you would for a tornado and make sure your business has proper insurance coverage. Also clear any trees that might pose a threat to your property. Remind staff it is safest to stay indoors in the event of a high wind warning.
8. Extreme Heat
Extreme heat can affect businesses, as well as people. The urban heat island effect can make extreme heat even worse. Before the hot season starts, plant trees and tend to green spaces around occupied properties.
Install proper air conditioning in workspaces and check air conditioning ducts for proper insulation. Consider covering windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or blinds to help reduce heat in the workspace.
For outdoor staff, ensure frequent breaks, availability of water and shade, where possible.
9. Chemical Transport Incidents (Rail & Road)
Hazardous materials are substances (liquids, solids, and gases) that pose a potential risk to life, health or property if released into the environment. Chemical transport incidents can happen anytime, even away from major roads or rail lines. Canadian law requires any person exposed to hazardous materials in the workplace must be trained in Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).
It is an employee’s responsibility to participate in their employer’s WHMIS safety training, take necessary measures to protect themselves and co-workers, and to properly identify and control hazardous materials. Businesses must ensure compliance with the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and its associated regulations for the protection of staff and clients.
10. Water or Wastewater Disruptions
Business owners should know if their water systems are well, septic, or municipal water. When working on a well or septic system, proper maintenance and inspections are necessary. Businesses may consider storing an emergency water supply (four litres of water per staff per day for drinking and sanitation).
Visit the Sewage Backup Factsheet for more information.
How Are These Hazards Selected?
As part of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, municipalities are required to identify and assess the hazards and risks to their communities. Each year, York Region and its nine local municipalities use the HIRA to assess the potential risk of hazards which could cause disaster. This helps to set priorities for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. This can also help residents and business owners take action to reduce potential future losses.
York Region’s HIRA answers the following questions:
- What hazards exist in York Region that could result in an emergency and/or disaster?
- How frequently do these hazards occur?
- How severe can their impacts be?
- Which hazards pose the greatest threat?
To determine the Region’s top threats, York Region meets with stakeholders and subject matter experts. Each meeting focuses on a hazard and ranks it using several factors. York Region also supports its nine municipalities in completing HIRAs.
York Region uses the information collected as part of the HIRA process to prepare its Regional Emergency Plan. This information is also used to help update York Region’s Emergency Preparedness Guide, so residents can be better prepared to respond.