Article tools: Share:

Disaster Planning Thinking It Backwards/Done In Reverse

Español | Translation Sponsored by Nox-Crete Products Group

What keeps you up at night? It’s fair to state that in 2017, Mother Nature delivered a wrath of extreme challenges for many of us, from extreme heat, record lows, and historical floods, to devastating winds, relentless mudslides and overwhelming fires. Planning for such disasters has become a necessity in most of our businesses in order to limit property damage and loss of life. Recently, the Tilt-Up Concrete Association published a new resource to assist with this planning process. It’s the first in a series of resources on this subject. At the time it was published, Hurricane Harvey had just devastated Texas and Irma was fast approaching Florida. It was too late for preventative measures. The TCA decided to work backwards, beginning with what to do on the morning after a natural disaster.

“Post Disaster Site Re-entry Recommendations,” written in just hours and approved by TCA Board of Directors by special committee process as Irma made her approach, aimed to offer actionable items to consider in the minutes prior to leaving the job site and the moments prior to reentry following the storm. Within hours of publication, 114 downloads were registered by the TCA, clearly indicating there is a need for such planning.

Like you, I thought it was a given that superintendents would be first to return to a job site to perform a quick visual prior to opening the gates. But what happens when the superintendent is stuck in a 100-mile-long traffic jam and the project fencing has gone through your job trailer? Planning for the morning after is not natural. It requires backwards planning and perhaps planning for an outcome of a historical event for which there is no precedent.

TCA’s “Post Disaster Site Re-entry Recommendations” is a series of quick action items formulated to help those with limited time to prioritize their preparation efforts and re-entry strategies. We wanted to arm the site superintendents and industry allies with some guidance on how they should plan their re-entry before they depart the site, so they could return safely in a predetermined manner. Simple things such as having easy access to small hand tools, securing drawings, making critical contact names easily available, and having a quick safety meeting with those who may return before the lead superintendent and/or foreman.

The concern was for the safety of returning inexperienced workers to a site, those who may not understand or foresee the dangers that may await them. Understanding that the superintendent, along with his or her wisdom and experience to guide the first responders and inexperienced workforce, may not be the first to arrive at the site, this document provides structure for all employees to consider as they return. What if a young worker enters the site to move fallen wires that are still live or tighten a damaged brace that should be replaced? These dangers and procedures may be outlined somewhere in an employee handbook or safety guideline, but having them readily available and focused helps ensure adherence. Some examples from the publication are below.


  • Prepare a complete contact list. This would include the general contractor’s info, fellow sub-trades, design team members, and corporate staff members.
  • Prepare site re-entry toolbox. This may include suitable ladders, cordless drills and impacts with proper sockets and bits, brace bolts (approved by panel engineer), caution tape, ropes, fall-protection equipment, panel drawings, contact lists, etc. Place the toolbox in a location that is secure and easily accessible outside of the Panel Shadow Zone (PSZ) – the area that the panel would occupy if fallen over.
  • Establish a site re-entry hierarchy. Who enters first, where to enter, and what to look for?


  • If panels have fallen over, do not enter the site until approved by engineers.
  • Follow the re-entry hierarchy program established for whoever enters the site first. All trades/staff should remain in the identified safe zone outside the PSZ.
  • Immediately report to authorities any damage that is causing risk of personal injury or property damage outside of the secured area.

It’s difficult to address every situation or safety concern that may arise in these situations. However, as an Association, let’s start to document the experiences of 2017 and help prepare our industry for the years to follow.

Please share your stories/suggestions related to disaster preparedness with the Association and with me (, as I am committed to seeing this initiative expand and become part of our industry’s planning strategies.

Leave A Comment

Get Connected

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Connect with us on LinkedIn
Subscribe to us on YouTube


About us

TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.