You know you need an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and you know that you need a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), but what is the difference? Aren’t they the exact same thing? Can I just have one and call it a day? In a perfect world, maybe. However, they are actually two completely different plans and yes, you need them both! It took me awhile to understand the difference in the two as well, so if you are a little puzzled, don’t worry, you most certainly are not alone. The good news is, I’m going to break it down for you and pinpoint what each plan does for you, why you need them, and how the plans work hand in hand to protect you, your business and your employees.

What’s an EAP & Why Do I Need It?

First and foremost, the textbook definition of an EAP is, “a written document required by OSHA to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies.” It sounds easy enough, but it’s actually a bit more complex than how it sounds and it can be hundreds of pages long, making it quite the daunting task. But yes, you do need an EAP, because without it, a couple things are going to happen: You will receive some hefty violations and if there is an emergency, you are going to be in hot water without it.

Here is a glimpse of the minimum requirements that must be included within your EAP:

  • Procedures for employees who must remain to operate critical plant operations prior to evacuation
  • Names or job titles of people who can be contacted
  • A way to report fires and other emergencies

To read the rest of OSHA’s minimum requirements for EAPs, click here.

Of course, there are more recommendations for ways to improve your EAP to where it goes beyond the minimum requirements. I figure, if you are going to spend time creating an EAP, it probably won’t kill you to make sure it’s done well.

To read more on how to exceed all expectations and create a more thorough EAP, click here.

What’s a BCP & Why Do I Need It?

A BCP is a back-up plan for how they intend on operating in the event of business disruption. Because it is impossible for businesses to predict events such as power outages, terrorist attacks etc., companies need to ensure that if an unexpected incident were to occur, they will be able to resume business as quickly as possible. It is important that they have enough funding to recover from things like this and ensure that no outgoing payments are missed or late. When creating a business continuity plan it is the perfect opportunity to evaluate current expenditure to see if there are any areas where money could be saved. Using Utility Bidder would enable businesses to see if they could save money by switching energy plans. Having a BCP ensures that your business is ready to respond to and recover from any potential incident, regardless of what the situation may be, in addition to ensuring the safety of employees.

For those of you who prefer to go with the flow and take life one day at a time, you might be thinking, “That sounds nice, but a lot of effort, so do I really need it?” I’m just going to throw it out there that if you own a business of any kind, you probably soaked a good deal of money into this investment, so if you value your business in the least, you need it. But, there are good reasons for that. Without a BCP, you subject yourself, your business and your employees to utter chaos during and after an emergency.

Here’s an example, I used to waitress at a restaurant that did not have an EAP or BCP (if they did, I never knew about it). One day the computers went down, but the owner (who wasn’t there) didn’t want to lose business so the staff was left to figure out how to carry out business as normal with virtually nothing to go off of. For the record, that did not go well and the restaurant had to close for the next couple of days until the issue was solved, because nobody knew what to do!
Talk about a massive loss of sales. In addition to that, by law businesses with 10 or more people are required to have their plans written down (or digitally stored, this is 2017). Failure to do so will result in violations.

However, that is just a small-scale example. This is why it is important to always have a solution to any problem, even before it happens. It’ll save you and your business a lot of time and saves you from losing out on profit and potentially losing customers. To be on the safe side, a potential solution for your business would be to look into ipad POS to help find the right system that is best suited to your businesses requirements, in order to progress in the right direction. Similar issues have occurred with larger companies who put emergency preparedness on the back burner. Financial services company Morgan Stanley learned the hard way in 1993 when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center for the first time. It took the company 4 hours to evacuate all the employees that day. Thankfully, none of the employees were killed in the attack and management decided that their current plan wasn’t going to cut it and made changes that payed off during the 9/11 attacks. Morgan Stanley was able to evacuate the company’s 3800 employees from the World Trade Center buildings in 45 minutes. Unfortunately, Morgan Stanley still lost 13 people during the attack, however without a solid EAP, the number could have been much higher.

To read more on risks of not having a BCP, click here.

How do EAPs & BCPs Work Together?

We have established that EAPs and BCPs serve different purposes, however at the same time they do a great job of working together to help ensure that your business and employees remain safe and compliant.

Here’s how it works:

Say a tornado was approaching your business and you needed to alert employees. You could send out an emergency notification (often found within EAPs) for everyone to take cover. Because you have an EAP and employees were properly trained on how to respond to specific incidents, they would know where to take cover. If the tornado destroyed part of the office and some employees were missing, you would be able to log onto a device (if you store your plans electronically) to access emergency contact information stored within your EAP. Once the incident has passed, this is where the BCP comes in. Now, you have to figure out how to respond to the damage, ensure the safety of employees while trying to navigate the damage, as well as get the business up and running as quickly as possible. The BCP’s purpose is to be able to continue business as usual through the disruption or to get your business back up and running in a timely manner.

Enlisting the Help of an All-In-One Solution

Because so much goes into creating EAPs and BCPs, it might seem challenging to find the time to create these plans when you have so much else going on. It’s not just you, it’s a very common issue and one of the main reasons that people fall behind on developing and maintaining plans. By enlisting the help of a company that provides an all-in-one solution, such as Preparis, you will be able to get all the different software tools that Preparis offers (emergency notification & incident management, online training, cloud-based document storage, etc.), and also assistance developing your plans along with annual maintenance all from one provider. In addition, annual maintenance ensures that the plans reflect any structural changes of the building, as well as employee growth at the company, that might make your plans fall out of compliancy.

To learn more about the services that Preparis offers and why you might want to consider choosing Preparis to help you develop and maintain your emergency plans, click here.

To learn more about Preparis’ software, click here.

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