When the shaking stops, you and your employees may likely be in some form of shock. You’re wondering if they’re okay. You’re probably also wondering if you have to evacuate, if it’s safe to go outside, if there’s damage to the workplace or any equipment, could there be a fire or gas leak. So much is running through your mind and everyone else’s.

We’ve developed a checklist to help guide you through what to do next. It is broken into two categories: what to do immediately and what will require your attention long term. This checklist is meant to be printed, posted at your worksite, and communicated to your team.

Remember, directly after an earthquake your employees should evacuate and meet at the designated meeting location. This is included in your Workplace Evacuation Plan. After that, follow the steps in the Post-Earthquake Checklist.

Immediate actions

Step 1: Ensure everyone has arrived at the meeting location.

  • Notify emergency personnel of any missing employees (if you suspect anyone is trapped inside, be sure to let emergency personnel know this, too).
  • You can also try reaching missing employees on their cell phone. Text messaging may work better as phone service could be compromised immediately after an earthquake.

Step 2: Check to see if anyone is injured.

  • Apply first aid as needed.
  • Notify emergency response if medical attention is needed.

Step 3: Remind employees that damage is likely throughout the area.

  • Be aware of downed power lines or damaged utility poles, and stay away from them.
  • If working in coastal areas, move to higher ground since tsunamis are a significant threat.
  • Once you exit a damaged building, do not go back inside. If you smell gas or notice a chemical spill, report it right away.

Remember to call or text a predesignated out-of-area contact, tell them where you and your employees are. Then, stay off the phone unless it’s absolutely necessary—this frees up bandwidth for emergency response teams.

Long-term actions

When you return to the building, use extreme caution. Perform a detailed hazard assessment of your worksite, check for gas leaks, water leaks, and chemical spills.

In the coming days, you’ll need to assess the workplace for structural or other damage. Depending on the size of the earthquake this could be right away or it might take a while.

Take the time to assess all damage. Buildings may need to be repaired before work can resume and equipment might have to be replaced. Take pictures of any damage and remember to keep receipts for any repair and cleanup costs. If your workplace isn’t available due to damage, consider allowing your employees to work from home or in a different location during the repairs. If you need assistance making repairs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and U.S. Small Business Administration are two resources you can turn to.

Utilities. If the gas to your workplace was turned off, you’ll need to call your local gas company to turn it back on. If the electricity went out and came back on, check electronic equipment and any appliances for damage.

Review. When everyone is back together, take time to review the earthquake response and discuss if any improvements can be made. Did everyone remember to Drop, Cover, and Hold On? Did anyone require medical attention and how quickly were you able to call for help? How did the building evacuation go? Did everyone arrive at the meetup location? Work with your employees to update your earthquake response plan.

Everything you do after an earthquake can help you plan and be even more prepared the next time an earthquake occurs.

The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.