We all know how the Japan earthquake of March 11 was one of the worst disasters in recorded history.The tsunami and the nuclear plant disaster that followed that earthquake have been so devastating that after two weeks the crisis is far from over. This disaster once more emphasized the need for good risk management not just in terms of protecting the physical assets of the business but more importantly, assuring the safety of every employee in the organization. This too, is part of the Lopez values: Concern for Employee Welfare and Wellness.
This week, I want to talk about safety. I had long been concerned about employee safety in case of natural calamities that I have tasked Raffy Alunan to make a survey of our preparedness and on that basis design and implement a program on a Lopez Group basis. Over the past few years, Raffy had been working with your senior executives on contingency measures that must be adopted to assure the safety of our work places.
Getting the information out to everyone on what you should do when an earthquake strikes is a top priority. Notice that I wrote “when” not “if.” A major earthquake, according to government scientists, is expected to hit the country again (just like it did in Baguio, 1990) at any time between now and the next 200 years. Science is yet unable to predict earthquakes and we can only pray that the next one will not happen for a long time. We are told the big one along the Marikina Fault line is overdue but no one knows the day nor the hour and we can only be prepared.
According to Philvolcs, there are hundreds of little tremors recorded each year in the Philippines because our archipelago (just like Japan and New Zealand) lies along the so-called Pacific Rim of Fire, a system of connected fault lines deep underground. This is where tectonic plates rub against each other, and when the stresses become violent. That’s what causes an earthquake.
So enough of the science lesson. Let me share the good news: earthquakes are not dangerous by themselves. It’s the buildings that we live and work in. I’m proud to report that according to structural engineers we consulted we have some of the best constructed buildings in the country: Benpres, Rockwell condos and of course, ABS-CBN’s state-of-the-art ELJ Communications Center. But please, never forget that if an earthquake is strong and violent enough, no building on the planet can fight Mother Nature.
This is why we must all learn how to react when a major earthquake strikes. Experts tell us we need to get out of the building as soon as we can, in an open space, clear of any falling debris. Crouch on the ground and hold your hands over your head.
If you are inside a tall building, you will not have time to get out, so instead you need to go under your desk to protect yourself in case the ceiling collapses.And if you find yourself standing near a wall, there is a danger that the wall itself might fall on you. Lie face down next to the wall, where the wall meets the ground, and cover your head and face. Debris will tend to fall away from where you are lying.
The Lopez group of companies will be conducting regular earthquake drills to ensure that these habits become second nature. We have consulted experts to assess our preparations because we take employee safety very seriously.