The disaster plans of many international organisations and businesses have been put to the test by recent world events and some were found lacking, according to a leading risk management company.

Most of the failures can be attributed to a lack of planning and testing of emergency procedures. That’s the view of Cardinus Risk Management following a review of how companies, including its own customers, have responded to disasters.

Jon Abbott, managing director – ergonomics and safety at Cardinus Risk Management, said, “Devastation in Japan and New Zealand caused by earthquakes and tsunami has vied for top slot in the news with political unrest and the threat of civil war spreading across the Middle-East. Just because we can’t predict these events, it doesn’t mean we can’t plan for them. Planning involves the introduction of systems and these systems must be tested.

“During an emergency, whether it is a global catastrophe or a local incident, people do not always act the way we think they will. A process may fail because an individual’s instinctive first reaction is to help, often disregarding any additional risk that creates. A process may fail because it is not easy to carry out and without testing, how would we ever know? Presumably when it’s tested for real and fails.”

Cardinus believes that a company’s ability to handle a disaster has a huge impact on its reputation. “We feel admiration and wonder at an organisation’s ability to emerge from the turmoil and get back to business. Great reputations are built that way,” said Mr Abbott. “But badly prepared organisations may never recover and even those that do will carry a heavy reputational burden.”

He went on to say that companies and organisations have an important role to play in the aftermath of a disaster, working in partnership with governments to speed the recovery and stabilise employment and the economy.

Cardinus Risk Management is hosting a free workshop on May 24 at Leadenhall Street, London. This three-hour event is being run in partnership with the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management and will provide lectures and workshops to help companies plan, test and execute their disaster responses.

Announcing the workshops, Mr Abbott said, “We thought long and hard about what Cardinus can and should do in the light of recent events. We don’t want to look like we’re trying to do business off bad news. But we think we can help. We think that our experience and the experiences of our customers can prepare people and organisations for the unexpected; to help limit damage, speed up recovery and avoid the reputational risk of not being prepared.”

Places on the workshop are limited to 70 and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information and to pre-register, please email linda.kelly@cardinus.com.

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