Shutting down operations in an emergency from retail stores to production facilities

An unplanned shutdown of operations, whether due to a strike, catastrophic equipment failure, a pandemic, or other unforeseen sudden events is always a difficult decision that is ultimately harmful to business operations. Often such incidents can occur when you least expect it. There is never a good time to be forced in to shutting down a retail store or operational facility. However, it is important that your site is prepared for an emergency shutdown and can be closed in a controlled way.

closed-down production facility.
A fter a shutdown, companies need to ensure a secure re-start of business and production operations in accordance with good crisis management practices. Photo: Getty Images

Similarly, a factory, office building, or other facilities, that stands vacant is forced to halt production and can put companies into significant financial difficulty. Lost revenue is a major concern, however empty buildings can also be subjected to an increased risk of loss. Damage to the buildings can range from minor cosmetic damage to the complete loss of the facility.

Some things to consider include safety and security related issues. As an example, when personnel are no longer present on location, there are fewer people around to detect and react to problems. Also, utilities must be turned-off with careful consideration of the relating consequences.

During a facility shutdown, maintenance should not be ignored, also the building may become an easy target for thieves, vandals or arsonists.

Some considerations to reduce risks

Every business has its own specific protocol in the event of shutting down operations and different types of facilities will require various actions. Below are some general tips to help reduce potential risks during a shutdown.

Depending on the building in question, there are variations to what should be considered. However, having an emergency response plan will help keep your facility safe during an unexpected shutdown.

Closing a production facility requires careful planning:

If necessary, emergency response team personnel should remain at the facility if it is safe to do so and be prepared to respond.

  • Secure the perimeter of the site and all the doors and windows to the buildings.
  • Consider hiring a security service company or increase the existing security arrangements.
  • Sprinkler systems, where installed, should remain fully functional.
  • Automatic fire detection, where installed, should be maintained.
  • CCTV and intruder detection systems, where installed, should remain fully operational.
  • The external lighting, where installed, should be maintained.

Many of the above also apply to smaller facilities, in the event of an emergency, when closing a store or office, take the necessary steps to protect your property for when the time comes to resume normal operations.

  • Inform the local authorities, such as police, fire departments etc. that the building is vacant.
  • Inform other relevant parties such as suppliers, customers and insurer of the situation.
  • Plan on-site inspections to ensure everything is in order.
  • Keep records of change controls, deviation incidents, etc.
  • Ensure that any hazardous materials are disposed of or appropriately stored.
  • The life period of goods needs to be reviewed and materials which might deteriorate need to be removed.

Article by: Kristian Orispää

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