Preparation of small to medium-sized enterprises to earthquake disaster
Walsh, Kevin Q.
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Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are often vulnerable to the adversities caused by major earthquake events, which may include business disruption, damage to goods and property, impaired employee health and safety, financial strain and loss of revenue, or even total loss of the business. SMEs are expected to make critical decisions to prepare their businesses for an earthquake, in an attempt to ensure business continuity and the wellbeing of their employees, should a disaster occur. This study was conducted five years after the devastating Canterbury earthquakes and sought to examine the level of earthquake preparedness of SMEs by investigating the actions undertaken in two different suburban locations having differing seismicity. The extent of preparedness was assessed based on a list of twenty-one possible actions grouped into four categories being knowledge enrichment, insurance and business continuity, survival support actions, and seismic damage mitigation. The assessment involved a survey with an online questionnaire. Analysis of the collected data revealed a specific adoption pattern in the regions of study. The main preparedness action adopted by SMEs was the purchase of business insurance with the development of continuity plans. The least obtained preparedness action was related to survival support actions such as maintaining necessary emergency supplies. The overall adoption rate of the preparedness actions was less than 30%, with no significant difference between the regions studied, and close to 50% of SMEs having adopted less than five preparedness actions. This situation clearly requires urgent attention from all stakeholders involved in SMEs resilience before an earthquake disaster hits the regions.