What to Do During and After a Business Shutdown

Minimize property loss during and after the coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has forced unprecedented sudden closings of facilities around the world. Below are some important steps to take to help minimize property loss during and after shutting down a facility. 


During a shutdown

  • Prevent freeze: Monitor temperature and maintain building heat.
  • Ensure all sprinkler systems work.
  • Minimize ignition sources, hot work and quantities of ignitable liquids.
  • Follow documented standard operating procedures as key personnel may not be available. Shortcuts or overriding system controls often leads to loss.
  • Ensure that proper security is maintained for buildings, equipment, etc.
  • Personnel on sick leave or working from home means there may be gaps on the emergency response team. Reassess work assignments based on personnel availability and business operations. 
  • Take personal action during emergencies: In the event of fire, call the fire service—don’t assume someone else has reported the fire.
  • Prioritize activities for production resumption. Staff, contractors and supplies may be limited at the outset. Know what’s most important for your business resumption and adopt a strategic approach.
  • Ensure trash has been removed/disposed of properly, especially any ignitable liquid-soaked rags.
  • Move excess combustibles away from buildings, such as pallets, that may have been staged for production.
  • Light the outside yard storage and entrances.
  • Many companies have changed the way they do business, including the products and packaging used. This can introduce new hazards into the organization, especially if it is changing manufacturing processes to help in the epidemic.
  • Follow these precautions to help prevent buildup of stock that could render the sprinkler system in your warehouse inadequate:
    • Keep stock at least 3 ft. [0.91 m] below ceiling sprinklers.
    • Do not store product in aisles between racks; instead, store goods in trailers in the yard. Kingpin locks should be used for any valuable storage to reduce theft.
    • Keep stock or combustibles at least 3 ft. [0.91 m] from electrical panels and forklift charging stations.

After a shutdown

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations before restarting any equipment that has been idle.
  • Reassess emergency response team positions, filling gaps and providing training as needed.
  • Hurricane and flood seasons are fast approaching for many locations. Prepare as soon as possible.
  • Once you’re back up and running, review your business continuity plan. What worked well and what didn’t? Revise the plan based on lessons learned.

FM Global makes its Property Loss Prevention Data Sheets available free to the public. Search the topics below to help maintain a good property conservation program and emergency response team, provide proper security, ensure that sprinkler systems remain in service and protect your property against arson and other incendiary fires, all of which are especially important when a facility is idle. 

Just go to FM Global’s Property Loss Prevention Data Sheets, select your preferred language and type the number preceding the topic you wish to download:  

  • 9-1 Supervision of Property
  • 9-16 Burglary and Theft
  • 10-0 The Human Factor of Property Conservation
  • 10-2 Emergency Response
  • 10-6 Protection Against Arson and Other Incendiary Fires
  • 10-7 Fire Protection Impairment Management

Access FM Global’s Property Loss Prevention Data Sheets