The swarm of dangerous storms that roared through the South and Midwest in recent weeks has claimed hundreds of lives and wrought tens of millions of dollars in damage. Meteorologists estimate that more than 600 tornadoes formed in the U.S. in April – obliterating the previous April record of 267 set in 1974. One twister ripped through a gate area of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, smashing windows and tearing off part of a roof; another beared down on terrified shoppers in a home improvement store, who remarkably escaped injuries. The loss of life, serious injury, and widespread devastation underscore the continued need for broadly applicable private-sector preparedness measures.
For small businesses in particular, resuming operations after a disaster depends on how prepared a business is for unexpected circumstances today. Effective preparedness standards and conformance programs help to assure individual health and safety, and work to maintain the links in the supply chain so that businesses are better positioned to recover from financial loss and business interruption.
On May 25, the American National Standards Institute Homeland Security Standards Panel (ANSI-HSSP) will host Achieving Preparedness through Standards Implementation: Challenges and Opportunities for Small Businesses, a workshop focusing on the unique needs of small businesses in preparing for unforeseen challenges.
The goal of the workshop is to identify actions needed to better reflect small business considerations with regard to preparedness standards and conformity assessment. A final report outlining findings and recommendations from the workshop will be published following the event.
Through a series of moderated panel discussions, the workshop seeks to foster dialogue among small businesses, standards developing organizations, federal agencies, and other stakeholders to support private-sector preparedness through voluntary consensus standards and conformance activities.
The first panel, led by Gordon Gillerman, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Standards Services Group, will explore how standards and conformity assessment activities can be leveraged to assist businesses with preparedness measures.
Participants will then take a deeper dive into the unique challenges of small businesses in a second panel led by Thomas Anderson, director of corporate and strategic development at Louisiana State University’s Disaster Management Institute. Attendees will discuss the 9/11 Commission–recommended Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program (PS-Prep) and examine how the initiative is making standards and/or programs relevant and accessible to small businesses.
The third panel, moderated by Bill Raisch, director of the International Center for Enterprise Preparedness (InterCEP) at New York University, will explore how PS-Prep and other standards and conformance activities can be used to maintain the links in the supply chain that drive global commerce.
The workshop will be held on May 25, 2011, at the Executive Conference Center in Arlington, VA. Attendance is free of charge, but all attendees must register by May 11, 2011.