It pays to heed storm warnings

Summer storms have the potential to cost businesses - big and small

IT'S the start of the summer storm season, and while we watch the skies for much-needed rainfall, the flooding and winds that go along with tropical fronts are more than just a hazard for home owners - they also have the potential to cause costly damage to businesses, big and small.

"Natural disasters like lightning, fire, cyclonic conditions and hail can all cause damage to property and result in loss
of business," says Hamish Broadbent, a partner at Minter Ellison, Gold Coast City Council advisor and WorkCover Queensland panel member.

"Businesses need to be aware of their liabilities and protect their assets like their premises, equipment, storage of records offsite and damage to neighbouring properties," he says.

"It's not a case of if, but when the next storm will hit the Gold Coast."

Mr Broadbent says the region is reliant on tourism and development and these industries need to invest in risk management and adequate insurance to minimise exposure to and losses during periods of disaster.

"Like Thailand is experiencing a downturn in tourism following the tsunami, businesses on the Gold Coast need to take into consideration all aspects of trying to operate under disaster conditions," he says.

Also on the horizon for the new-year, according to Queensland Health forecasts, is a bird flu epidemic warning. Such an epidemic would result in mass staff absences.

"You need to have contingency plans for staff working from home, computer networking, casual labour to fill in and other facets of corporate risk - documented formats of company knowledge of processes and procedures so that temporary staff know what to do," says Mr Broadbent.

" You also need to implement a type of emergency policy so all staff know what to do in the event of a natural disaster or health scare."

Mr Broadbent advises companies to revise their business continuity plans and general insurance needs, from workers' compensation and public liability to loss
of income.

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