5 Extremely Common Workplace Disasters That You Didn’t See Coming

This post was created for and sponsored by SERVPRO®.

Firefighters outside a building

Firefighters outside a building | Pixabay

As a business owner, you probably have a good idea of what your expenses are. Costs and liabilities are often at the top of your mind, as are new and innovative ways to cut them down — saving you and your business money. But the biggest threats to a business are typically those that go unseen, or at least unheralded until they arrive, often out of nowhere. These are the types of disasters that can stop a business in its tracks, costing thousands upon thousands of dollars in lost productivity and restoration.

Workplace disasters come in a variety of forms, from slips and falls to fires and flooding. The scariest part? Disasters like these aren’t exactly rare — in fact, they’re relatively common. That means if you’re in business, chances are you’ll be dealing with a workplace disaster, in some shape or form, at some point. The only thing you can really do to stop it is to be aware of the risks and be ready to respond to them.

So, what should you be ready and waiting for, as a business owner? Here are five relatively common business disasters that are waiting in the wings, and which you can save your business gobs of time and money by adequately preparing for.

1. Fires

Fires can and do happen, it’s just hard to imagine that it could happen to you or your business. But businesses do experience fires, and the costs associated with them can be staggering. Even if you don’t lose any assets — equipment or buildings, for example — the time spent cleaning up and restoring your business to proper working order can take a huge toll.

And fire danger can be sneaky. Make sure your smoke and fire detectors are in working order, you have the necessary prevention and suppression systems in place, and a sound evacuation plan. Even a small fire can be cripplingly expensive for a small business. As of 2014, average losses due to a fire in the U.S. were almost $20,000 per structure.

2. Flooding

You don’t need heavy rain or precipitation for your business to experience flood or water damage — it may only take some leaky pipes, a busted water main, or even a winter freeze to knock your business operations out of commission. Flood and water damage can be extremely expensive to restore and clean up, particularly if you don’t immediately take care of the issue. Water can and will find its way into your business structures, threatening your electronics, inventory, and assets. The best and most cost-effective way to counter it is by having a professional take stock of any threats your building may have, and by knowing what to do in the immediate aftermath of a flood or busted pipe.

3. Mold

Do you know what often goes hand-in-hand with water and flooding damage? Mold — and that’s why it’s so important to have a professional cleaning and restoration team take care of water issues as soon as possible. Mold is sneaky and destructive, and can grow in places you’d never even think to look. It can also make you and your staff or customers sick, which may warrant some action from local building code regulators. Mold is fairly common too, depending on what part of the country your business is located in.

4. Weather damage

Severe weather is unpredictable and relatively rare, all things considered. For that reason, it’s easy for business owners to filter the threat of storm and severe weather damage from their minds. It can be hard to justify spending time and money planning for something that may never happen, right? Well, it’ll happen eventually — and if you don’t plan for it, you’ll end up dealing with broken windows, damage from falling trees, flooding, and a host of other potential issues.

If your business is in a hurricane, tornado, or blizzard-prone area, the potential for storm damage should be something you’re taking seriously.

5. Loss of power and water

We take a lot of things for granted living in modern America, and one of those things is the availability of electricity and clean water. But what happens if, for one reason or another, our electricity or water is cut off? We’re essentially sent back to the Stone Age — and if you’re a business owner, it means that your whole operation grinds to a screeching halt.

Be prepared for utility shutdowns as best you can. Have backup generators and water storage on hand, to ensure that critical systems can remain online until utilities are restored. If you’re not prepared, you could lose inventory (perhaps you require refrigeration or steady water flow?) or create the potential for a fire or flooding. Be prepared for the worst, and invest in contingency systems to keep your business afloat.