I am updating the Emergency plan for our business and we are all wondering about when an earthquake strikes and you have people working in a warehouse with tall racking around them, what on earth is the best thing for them to do?’

What you just read is a real message. From one of our customers. About a real scenario that could happen anytime.

Drop, cover and hold

Governments around the world are unanimous. Don’t run outside. In fact, don’t go anywhere more than a few steps away.

From New Zealand:

Earthquake: Unlike fire threats, it’s dangerous to evacuate staff outside during and immediately after a quake. Everyone should drop, cover and hold during the quake. Make a plan on where to meet after the shaking stops.

This video shows exactly what to do – if you’re in an office. But we’re talking about warehouses.

The message continues:

In the office it’s under a desk, but in the warehouse – probably not, – not many desk’s out there.’

Here’s another video: If there’s NO sturdy desk or table.

That’s a good video. And it will probably save lives. But is it enough for those employees in the warehouse?

An Emergency Management Plan + Secured Racking

An Emergency Plan is a health and safety requirement. And after the earthquake is too late.

Goal number 1 for your plan is to save and protect your people. Goal 2 is your business. The more you can protect equipment and premises, the quicker you’ll be able to rev up your business again and continue trading.

Now for your Earthquake Emergency Plan

Identify the risk you’re planning for. This plan is specifically for earthquakes, but bear in mind that tsunamis are triggered by earthquakes. So if you’re in a tsunami zone, plan how to reach higher ground. Earthquakes can cause fires, so have your fire evacuation plan ready as well.

Employee education. Make sure everyone knows:

>  That it’s dangerous to run outside during, and immediately after, a quake.

>  How to drop, cover and hold.

>  The best places to take cover quickly.

>  How long to remain in cover.

>  Where the nearest earthquake survival kit is.

Make an Emergency Evacuation Plan

>  Include a detailed floor plan showing where emergency equipment and first aid supplies can be found.

>  Utilities. Gas leaks and electrical sparks are a fire risk after any natural disaster. Know when and how to turn off gas, electricity and water. Document these details in your plan.

>  Document all emergency plans. Make them available online as well as hard copies stored in a specific place.

>  Choose an assembly point outside the building.

>  Establish an Evacuation Route A.

>  Point out that everyone should be prepared to find other ways out as damage such as demolished stairways, fire, or debris could block route A.

>  Instruct staff on how they should notify emergency services.

>  Train relevant workers to implement the emergency procedures.

>  Arrange to test the emergency procedures at regular intervals.

>  Appoint staff wardens for counting all workers and visitors after an evacuation.

>  First aid: Outline your procedure to handle injuries.

>  List any staff members who have first aid training.

>  Identify the nearest medical centre or hospital for more serious injuries.

>  Emergency contacts: Keep necessary contact details updated and handy.

Phone numbers for staff, emergency services, clients, suppliers and insurance company.

Follow your local civil defence and emergency management group website and Facebook page to get information and help in an emergency.

Safety Apps

These apps won’t write your evacuation plan for you, but they might handle your forms and reporting, and help you to bring it all together. We picked a handful. Some of them are geared for New Zealand. Worth looking at:

enablon                     Site App                   ThinkSafe

SiteSafe NZ              Red Cross Hazard App

NZ govt. resources

Before, during and after an earthquake

Emergency survival items and getaway kit

Personal workplace emergency plan

Storing water

For an effective plan, know your facility – building and non-building structures.

What is the Seismic risk of your building?

When an earthquake strikes, some buildings are safer than others. The New Zealand government has set up a system geared to find out which buildings are EPB’s (Earthquake Prone Buildings). The seismic risk of your area, plus the age, height and type of construction (masonry) determine whether a building is designated EPB. Fixing problems in older buildings from before modern codes – retrofitting – is in most cases the responsibility of the building owner. Planned well, small improvements can make big differences.

See more about EPB.s or dangerous buildings here.

Warehouse Safety – how secure is your racking?

Felt earthquakes are not as common in Oregon – a State on the West coast of America – as they are in New Zealand.
However, the Pacific Northwest does have earthquakes because it lies within a tectonic collision zone. So far, earthquake activity has been relatively mild, but scientists predict a major earthquake sometime in the future.

The document ‘Earthquake Preparedness and Mitigation Guidance for Oregon State Agency Offices and Warehouses’ makes the following recommendations:

>  Racks should be bolted to the floor following code requirements. When possible, adding row spacers would increase stability of racks.

>  The area below the lower shelf of a secured rack should be established as a safe zone during an earthquake.

>  Selected lower shelves should be secured as necessary to be designated as safe areas.

>  Safety tables should be placed in selected areas in the open part of the warehouse.

>  Loaded or partially loaded pallets should be shrink-wrapped. Full pallets should not be stacked on the floor more than one pallet high. Full pallets should be placed in properly secured racks.

>  When racks are moved they should be bolted to the floor again following code requirements.

>  Netting should be placed on the side of racks or on a non-working back where there is no existing barrier. Temporary barriers, such as wire or netted gates, should be installed on working racks. They could be closed after hours to protect inventory and closed during work hours if it does not significantly hinder warehouse operations.

>  If practical, allow only forklifts to enter the rack aisles. The worker should stay in the cage-protected forklift during an earthquake.


WorkSafe New Zealand recommends that PCBUs should engage a consulting engineer to review their shelving systems’ verification and certification to ensure that they meet the requirements of NZS 4219 – Seismic performance of engineering systems in buildings, which contains the current state of knowledge on the topic.

Traffic Management and Pedestrian Segregation

Pedestrian safety barriers, well-marked walkways, and clear signage.

Life saving at all times, but could it be part of your evacuation plan?

Our safety barrier solutions demarcate and protect.

Talk to us about our Installation Services, we’d love to help you get set up!