Your Solution for SMART Response Plans

Tips for a Company-Wide Response Planning Review

Posted on Thu, Jul 21, 2016

Terrorism, cyber-attacks, and natural disasters continue to impact companies around the globe at seemingly extraordinary rates. As these threats become increasingly complex and company profiles include intricate networks of technology, human resources, and global influences, corporate preparedness programs and applicable response plans need to be reviewed and tested for effectiveness and accuracy.

A thorough review should include information gathering regarding potential risks and threats to operations, as well as the status of current response plans, response competencies, and applicable regulatory requirements. It is critical to analyze various risks, threats, and on-site emergency response capabilities, as they are essential for responsible preparedness and core components of response plans.

While each facility has unique response planning needs and capabilities, the following general preparedness documentation, if applicable, should be reviewed and tested in relation to the identified site-specific threats:

  • Safety and health procedures
  • Environmental policies
  • Security procedures
  • Finance and purchasing procedures
  • Mutual aid agreements
  • Communication policy
  • Employee training manuals
  • Hazardous materials information
  • Business Continuity Plan
  • Risk management Plan
  • Hurricane/Tornado/Flood Plans
  • Evacuation Plan
  • Fire Pre-Plan

The review of company response plans should include debriefings with collaborative response entities. Meetings with these outside responders should confirm specific plan and response procedures details that can be carried out in accordance with collective best practices and company protocols. Groups to consider in planning reviews include, but are not limited to:

  • Local responders (fire, police, emergency medical services, etc.)
  • Government agencies (LEPC, Emergency Management Offices, etc.)
  • Community organizations (Red Cross, weather services, etc.)
  • Utility Company(s) (gas, electric, public works, telephone, etc.)
  • Contracted Emergency Responders
  • Neighboring Businesses

Response plans must serve site-specific preparedness measures and meet precise planning objectives in order to be relevant and effective. Below is a list of basic response planning components that should be included in the preparedness review. These planning components should must be reviewed, confirmed, and updated as necessary in order for each facility to meet response objectives associated with each potential threat, risk or emergency scenario:

  • Site-specific response procedures
  • Response team frameworks and assigned personnel to fill primary and alternate roles
  • Effectiveness of notification and emergency response team activation procedures.
  • Communication procedures
  • Primary and alternate Emergency Operations Center location
  • Necessary response equipment
  • Response team and personnel response training
  • Mitigation procedures and protective actions to safeguard the health and safety of on-site personnel and nearby communities
  • Availability of responders and supply chain resources
  • Regulatory compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal requirements for environmental hazards, response plans, and training
  • Best practices and lessons learned integration from past training and exercises, actual emergencies, and incident reviews

As new vulnerabilities evolve and risk potentials unfold, every effort should be made to include crisis management response processes and procedures to the most likely emergency scenarios relevant to your site. A Crisis Management Plan (CMP) can minimize the escalation effect; such as a company’s short and long-term reputation, adverse financial performance, and overall impingement of company longevity. The associated level of preparedness may mean the difference between a crisis averted and an exhaustive corporate disaster.

The following concepts should be utilized when developing CMP:
PREDICT: Identify all potential threats to “business as usual” operations.
PREVENT: Take preventive measures to avert emergency situations and establish necessary communications platforms. This also includes generating effective response procedures and recovery processes for a variety of potential threats in order to minimize the extent of impacts.
PLAN: Prepare a plan for responding to all internal and external aspects of the crisis. This may include identifying and communicating with media and all audiences that may be affected by each crisis situation.
PERSEVERE: Follow your tested plan and be flexible if circumstances require additional support. Be sure to communicate ongoing activities to inform employees, stakeholders, and the public. Proactive efforts, honesty, empathy, and preparedness will assist in maintaining company viability and reputation.

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Response Plans, Crisis Management

The Evolution of Response Planning - The TRP Story

Posted on Thu, Jul 14, 2016

Technical Response Planning Corporation (TRP) staff recently sat down with its Founder and President, Steve Bassine, to discuss the company’s origins, its evolution, and the response to the ever changing demands of corporate preparedness and response planning.

After graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering, Bassine began his career as a Project Engineer for Exxon’s South Texas Production Division in Corpus Christi, TX. It was in this first job that Bassine learned the importance of effective communication. “My role was ten percent engineering and 90 percent written and verbal communications.” While college prepared Bassine with a deep understanding of engineering concepts and principles, and provided the foundation to broaden his knowledge of oil and gas production, equipment and processing, regulatory compliance, and onshore and offshore operations, he discovered that fine-tuning his written, verbal, and decision-making skills were needed in order to be an effective project manager and future entrepreneur.

After the oil slump of the late 1980’s halted Bassine’s initial entrepreneurial aspirations, he accepted a job with a consulting firm that specialized in oil spill response planning. His immersive corporate and field experience with Exxon coupled with a practical expertise in response planning prompted Bassine to explore simplified preparedness processes.  “I knew there were better ways of doing things, and I needed the freedom to try them,” said Bassine.

In 1995, Bassine founded TRP in an effort to provide innovative response planning practices that simplified preparedness complexities for companies with large operations. “We were working hard to meet Client expectations, and stretching ourselves to find a better way to deliver response plans.” Two years later, the company pioneered industry’s first "electronic plan”, as well as graphical one-page response plans for fire pre-plans, oil spill tactical plans, and spill prevention plans. Bassine proved that these new techniques could be utilized to streamline complex preparedness and response planning processes, a great improvement to the static, paper-based response planning methods of the past.

Bassine continued to push the envelope of response planning innovation with the development of TRP’s first web-based response plans in 2001. “The availability of the Internet, reliance on and better understanding of computers and software, and the emergence of a tech-savvy workforce accelerated the understanding and acceptance of TRP’s approach.” At the time, web-based response plans were a new and unfamiliar concept. “Many companies were reluctant to be the first to commit,” said Bassine, “But today an overwhelming majority of companies are eager to embrace technology in order to help them solve their problems.”

Since 2001, the rapid acceptance of technology has continued to raise expectations for more robust, yet user-friendly functionality. Bassine made it a priority to align emerging technologies, societal behaviors, and client feedback with groundbreaking response planning platforms. The result was a proprietary response planning technology that eliminated redundant planning efforts while reducing errors, version confusion, and regulatory non-compliance. “We are always looking for better, more efficient ways of doing things, and for more user-friendly functionality. This, coupled with frequent feedback from clients and new prospects helps us keep abreast of new technology.”

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But after more than 20 years in the industry, Bassine says many companies are still challenged with preparedness, response planning, and enterprise-wide regulatory compliance issues. “The cyclical nature of the oil and gas industry and the difficulties of managing response plans for large operations are still relevant.” The TRP founder believes that the challenges have continued to increase over the years due to elevated scrutiny from regulatory agencies and the public, heightened profit/loss pressures, and the constant change of company structure, ownership, and staffing.

In a continual effort to simplify company-wide response planning, TRP released its SMARTPLAN™ software in 2015, which enables companies to do more with less resources. Companies utilizing this latest system can now revise content for multiple plans quickly, track revisions, print plans, manage contacts, and so much more. “Our latest technology reduces administrative efforts, eliminates the need to manage mountains of paper-based response plans and hundreds of Microsoft Word files, and provides a platform that facilitates more rapid and cost-effective upgrades. This leaves more time for our Clients to focus on strategic initiatives and provides assurances that our technology will continue to evolve.”

Incorporating technology for the sake of upgrading can often be costly, time consuming, and counterproductive. However, technology that provides innovative solutions to the challenges associated with preparedness, response planning, and regulatory compliance is highly advantageous in the emergency management realm. As TRP continues to fine-tune technologies and adapt systems to the needs of the consumer, they are setting a new standard for “Best Practices” in response planning software. With new response planning challenges continually arising, TRP solutions will continue to evolve to provide solutions to the ever-changing demands of preparedness and response planning.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans

10 Questions Executives Should Ask about Response Plans and Compliance

Posted on Thu, Jul 07, 2016

Corporate leadership teams must prioritize compliance with environmental, health, and safety regulations by financially supporting, authorizing, and directing management to initiate and sustain best practice emergency management measures. The intent of these regulations is to protect employees, communities, and the surrounding environments and reduce impacts in the event of an incident. Through consistent and dedicated support, executives can create a culture that prioritizes regulatory compliance, proactively prepares for threats, risks, and potential disaster, and has the ability to effectively respond if an incident were to occur.

Prioritizing compliance, preparedness, and response not only facilitates a unified culture of safety, but heightens a company’s ability to fulfill their moral responsibility to protect employees, the community, and the environment. Establishing an effective preparedness and response program enhances a company’s ability to:

  • Recover from financial losses
  • Limit or eliminate regulatory fines
  • Limit damages to equipment or products
  • Reduce the potential or duration of business interruption which could impact market share
  • Reduce exposure to civil or criminal liability and lawsuits in the event of an incident.
  • Enhance its image and credibility
  • Reduce insurance premiums

Executives must maintain profitable operations, yet ensure compliance with a complex array of federal, state, and local regulations. The consequences of being out of compliance can be damaging to the company, personnel, community, and professional reputations.

A compliant preparedness and response program includes multiple safety processes and procedures, as well as training, drills, equipment testing, and interoperability coordination. From a budgetary standpoint, emergencies, disasters, and incidents are expensive. Fortunately, compliance and mitigation costs are typically much lower than the expenditures associated with non-compliance fines, litigation, reputational risk, and government mandated shutdown of operations. 

True_cost_of_incidents.jpgTo ensure effective and compliant preparedness and response planning programs are in place, executives should propose the following questions to company managers:

  1. What activity presents the highest risk to our people and facilities, and how can these risks be minimized?
  2. Are there any newly identified threats and risks that require additional resources for mitigation?
  3. Are the individuals accountable for safety, preparedness, and response planning compliance receiving adequate training?
  4. What additional support is needed to improve safety, preparedness, and response planning compliance?
  5. Are company and contractor safety, preparedness, and response planning training programs being verified, and are the outcomes documented efficiently?
  6. When was the last time response plans had been verified and updated?
  7. Is employee input and/or feedback being utilized to improve safety, preparedness, and response planning processes? Do we have any recent examples?
  8. What were the top three high priority results of the last exercise?
  9. What lessons learned can be utilized for improvement to our process and procedures?
  10. Can our compliance verification continue to be handled internally, or do we need to seek external expertise to validate compliance?

Improving preparedness and response capabilities requires coordination across all levels of an organization. Collaborative pre-planning and exercising interoperable responses can minimize regulatory surprises and result in a more effective and timely response. When applicable, executives should encourage collaborative planning and exercises to validate response team positions, align priorities and common interests, and motivate participants to seek compromise for the good of an effective response.

Internal resources or outsourced compliance expertise can often enable a company to leverage regulatory knowledge across the entire company. In order to reduce managerial and administrative efforts required to manage compliance, companies often utilize external experts or consultants to ensure appropriate response planning and compliance measures.

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: Emergency Management, Regulatory Compliance

Database Technology Implementation Eases Response Planning Compliance

Posted on Thu, Jun 30, 2016

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, antiquated technology utilized by various government departments is costing nearly $60 billion a year to maintain. In order for companies to remain competitive and sustain viable operations over the long-term, response planning technologies and compliance verification processes must be periodically evaluated and upgraded.

Preparedness, emergency management, and regulatory compliance is a dynamic endeavor. The increasing number of stringent regulatory requirements compounds the complexity of industrial operations. Many companies may believe they have the compliance component of their business under control. Others take a reactionary role rather than a proactive approach. Without a targeted response planning and preparedness approach, fines and devastating incidents can negatively impact company profitability.

As with rapidly advancing technology, company-wide preparedness efforts and emergency management priorities are inherently dynamic, creating a challenging atmosphere for complying with an array of regulations. Costly fines continually result from the lack of an implemented, thorough, or effective response planning and regulatory compliance programs. Advanced response planning systems that utilize database technologies can provide customization, providing the ability for companies to adapt their preparedness and emergency management to specific conditions and regulations. This cost-saving technology, at a minimum, enables companies to:

  1. Document critical data necessary for site-specific responses
  2. Easily incorporate new locations during growth
  3. Validate continually evolving regulatory requirements

Response planning systems with database technologies can include regulatory tracking benefits, easing the duties associated with maintaining compliance. Unlike spreadsheets or word processing programs, these advanced systems can easily leverage duplicate regulatory data across an enterprise. The ability to eliminate the need for administrative redundancies across converging compliance requirements is financially beneficial for organizations that have multiple applicable regulatory requirements. Utilizing a database limits the duplication of tasks generated when multiple agencies have regulations that are related to the same subject matter.

Modernizing compliance tracking efforts can improve overall preparedness levels. When operations and facilities expand beyond a few locations, a methodological tracking system can be utilized to itemize federal, state, and local regulations, and include categorical information that satisfies that regulation. A tracking system should, at a minimum contain the following components:

  • Operational categories: Categories can range from air quality and hazardous materials, to construction safety and general safety and health. Depending on the detail required by the regulations, further breakouts by subcategories may also be required.
  • Applicable Regulation Level: Regulations should be further broken down to federal, state, or local regulation categories.
  • Time/Date Stamping: The time and date that each regulation was last updated.
  • Compliance Feedback: Applicable notes regarding compliance or non-compliance.
  • Industry Standard: Apply best practices related to compliance with specific regulatory requirements, when practical to do so.
  • Cross-reference: Itemize list of additional regulations that may be applicable to the information provided.
  • Facility Compliance responsibility: Identify person responsible for compliance for each regulatory requirement.
  • Action Item Reporting: Provides a list of outstanding and completed action items, along with due dates and person(s) assigned. Reports should have filters to customize queries as required by the users.
  • Search Functionality: Create the ability to search database for keywords and phrases associated with regulations.

Adaptability is a crucial emergency management attribute. Companies should take the same approach when it comes to the tools utilized for their emergency management program. As new and innovative tools are developed, companies must not be left with antiquated, costly solutions to company-wide preparedness and regulatory compliance.

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory Compliance Fines are Increasing: Is Your Company Ready?

Posted on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

Since the 1990 Inflation Adjustment Act exemption, the set monetary penalties for violating OSHA’s health and safety standards have remained fixed. However, on November 2, 2015, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 which requires federal agencies, including OSHA, to adjust their civil money penalties based on inflation. Any penalty proposed or assessed after August 1, 2016, will reflect the increased fine.

According to a February 24, 2016 memorandum, executive departments and agencies are to adjust “the maximum civil monetary penalty or the range of minimum and maximum civil monetary penalties, as applicable, for each civil monetary penalty by the cost-of-living adjustment.”
Per inflation, experts estimate that fines may rise as much as 80% compared to previous years’ rates. This estimation would result in the maximum penalty for a willful violation to be approximately $126,000, a significant increase from the current $70,000.

Agencies are required to publish initial penalty adjustment amounts by July 1, 2016, which must take effect no later than August 1, 2016. This timeline condenses the reactive mitigation period and minimizes the time for companies to confirm compliance across an enterprise. Encouraging regulatory compliance prioritization even further, agencies will be required to make annual inflationary adjustments based on the Office of Management and Budget guidance starting January 15, 2017. Companies must be proactive and confirm regulatory compliance or be ready to pay increased fines.

When company operations span across multiple locations, compliance verification can become increasingly complicated. In 2015, OSHA penalized Anheuser-Busch with safety violations at its New Jersey warehouse, resulted in a $150,000 fine. If the penalty was assessed after the upcoming August 1, 2016 adjustment, the company could have been fined nearly $270,000.

The cost to initiate, upgrade, and/or maintain a proactive EHS program may be seen as a superfluous expenditure. However, compliance efforts and compliance tracking software programs are often less expensive than agency fines. When companies can deliberately protect lives, prevent hazardous impacts, limit property damage, and eliminate increasing regulatory fines, EHS program prioritization becomes an investment in the long-term sustainability of a company.

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Site applicable regulations must be identified in order for processes, procedures, or response planning noncompliance to be discovered. Regulatory recognition can occur through routine inspections, job hazard analyses, and audits. Audits, whether done by in-house professionals or specialized contractors, can often reveal the same inadequacies and mitigation opportunities as identified by regulatory inspections, without the potential reputational and financial consequences of non-compliance. With an objective eye, an audit can bolster an overall emergency management program and minimize the potential for incidents or regulatory fines.

One of the most important aspects of maintaining compliant response plans is to update them in a timely manner. Cyclical response planning checks enable continuous reviews and potential revision opportunities, creating an optimal opportunity for regulatory compliance confirmation. Cyclical response plan reviews should include:

  • Safety and health procedures
  • Evacuation plan
  • Fire protection plan
  • Environmental policies
  • Security procedures
  • Response procedures
  • Communication Plans
  • Employee manuals
  • Business Continuity plan
  • Risk management plan
  • Hurricane/Tornado/Flood Plans
  • Mutual aid agreements

As agencies are redefining their monetary penalties, companies must not rely on the prospect of an inspection to ensure preparedness programs are sufficient. Regulatory deficiencies are most likely shared with others within the same industry, therefore, companies may identify potential solutions by researching applicable best practices. Often, the expertise and knowledge that drove the regulation into existence stems from the problems and experiences of others, and their efforts to address the inherent problem(s).

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: Regulatory Compliance

U.S. Coast Guard Updates OSRO Classification Guidelines for 2016

Posted on Thu, Jun 16, 2016

For certain industrial facilities and vessels that store oil, contracts must be established with Oil Spill Removal Organizations (OSROs) in order to provide the personnel and equipment necessary to respond to an oil spill. On March 31, 2016, The US Coast Guard’s National Strike Force Coordination Center released the new 2016 Oil Spill Removal Organization (OSRO) Guidelines. 

“This revision to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Oil Spill Removal Organization (OSRO) Classification Guidelines places the Coast Guard, the oil-related industry, and the public on the best possible footing for response to discharges and substantial threats.” - U.S. Coast Guard

According to the press release, a concerted and collaborative effort among the Office of Marine Environmental Response Policy (CG-MER), the National Strike Force Coordination Center (NSFCC), and private/public sector subject matter experts updated the guidelines to address current risks posed by heavy and Group V oils. Most notably, this update includes a classification scheme for non-floating oils that possess the potential to sink once discharged into the environment.

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If a company does not own the necessary quantities of specialized response equipment, or requires additional equipment and personnel to control a worst case discharge spill scenario, U.S. Coast Guard certified OSROs can provide equipment and additional personnel.

In an effort to solidify the Coast Guard’s marine environmental response mission and unified approach to oil spill preparedness and response, updates within the OSRO Guidelines include:

  • New annual review requirements for the OSRO Guidelines to be conducted by the NSFCC and CG-MER. This review will take place at the beginning of each calendar year.
  • Revised and edited portions of each classification program to either clarify previous language, add context, or remove redundant language.
  • Created a new classification in the OSRO Guidelines: Non Floating Oils classification. The Non Floating Oil classification meets the regulatory requirements of Group V oils in accordance with the criteria set forth by 33 CFR § 154.1047 and 33 CFR § 155.1052 and the inherent risk of other heavy oil types that may submerge or sink.
  • Created the Non Floating Oil application and procedures to meticulously and qualitatively assess Non Floating Oil classifications. The application contains pertinent information for owners and operators to appropriately determine what Non Floating Oil classified OSROs would be best suited for their operations.
  • Effective on November 30, 2016, all previous Group V OSRO ‘listings’ will be removed from the Response Resource Inventory. Furthermore, all Facility and Vessel response plan holders who may handle, store, or transport Group V oils shall only list Non Floating Oil classified OSROs or provide the required information in accordance with the regulatory Group V Response Plan Development and Evaluation Criteria. OSROs desiring to apply for the Non Floating Oil classification can do so now and refer to Chapter 6 in the Guidelines.

The OSRO classification process was developed by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to provide guidelines to evaluate an OSRO’s potential to respond to oil spills. Although participation in the OSRO classification is voluntary, real-world incidents have shown that this program directly contributes to aggressive, rapid and well-coordinated responses. While an OSRO classification does not guarantee performance, nor does the use of a Coast Guard-classified OSRO relieve plan holders of their responsibility to ensure the adequacy of response resources, the success of this program has been proven as a best practice.

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: USCG, Regulatory Compliance

Complex Corporate Structure? Five Components to an ICS Ready Response!

Posted on Thu, Jun 09, 2016

Facility and workplace emergencies occur quickly and often unexpectedly. Decisive responses must be immediate in order to minimize potentially escalating impacts. Use of the Incident Command System (ICS) provides companies with a proven response management structure, process, and methodology.

ICS is a widely applicable management system designed to enable flexible, effective, efficient all-hazards incident management. By integrating a common emergency planning organizational structure, response operations can be streamlined, coordinated, and coherent to every necessary responder.

ICS standardizes titles, clarifies reporting relationships, and eliminates the confusion caused by multiple, conflicting directives. Prior to an incident, standardized roles and responsibilities should be clearly established and assigned in the response plan. The individuals assigned to each area of response should be trained accordingly and be familiar with applicable response plans.

A typical ICS organizational structure is built around five major management activities or functional areas:

1. COMMAND: According to FEMA, the command function is “the act of directing, ordering, or controlling by virtue of explicit statutory, regulatory, or delegated authority.”

With a significant or prolonged incident, command may be transferred to other individuals. When command is transferred, the process must include a briefing that captures all essential information for continuing safe and effective operations. Command transfers should be expected during an extended incident, and does not reflect on the competency of the acting Incident Commander. Companies must train each individual for their designated role to ensure a smooth command transfer, or at a minimum, coordinate transfers with external responders or agencies. 

The ICS Unified Command structure allows federal, state, and local On-Scene Coordinators to work together effectively without affecting individual agency authority, responsibility, or accountability.

2. OPERATIONS: The operations function of ICS is responsible for the direction and coordination of all incident tactical operations. ICS operations enables short and long-term field-level operations for a broad spectrum of emergencies, from small to complex incidents, both natural and manmade. The designated Operations Section Chief organizes, assigns, and supervises all of the tactical field resources assigned to an incident. However, a manageable span of control is established to monitor the number of resources that report to any one supervisor. Per ICS guidelines, a supervisor optimally should not have more than five subordinates.

3. PLANNING: The planning function of ICS accounts for the collection, evaluation, and distribution of information regarding incident development and the necessary resources required to counteract the circumstances. Despite potential incomplete scenario details, planners must implement an Incident Action Plan that can be communicated through concise briefings during the initial stages of incident management. Pre-planning applicable emergency scenarios is highly recommended and can greatly minimize the initial planning stage. Implementing an unexercised plan during an incident may result in a prolonged and inefficient response.

As the incident management effort evolves over time, additional lead time, staff, information systems, and technologies enable more detailed planning and cataloging of events and “lessons learned.” Coordinated communication is a critical planning element that enables targeted directives to be carried out.

4. LOGISTICS: The logistic component of ICS is responsible for providing the necessary facilities, services, and materials to meet the needs of the incident response. The potential complexity of response logistics should be analyzed, optimized, and communicated within an established and exercised response plan. 

During an emergency, logistics personnel may be involved in:

  • Participating in preparation of the Incident Action Plan (IAP)
  • Providing utility maps to emergency responders
  • Providing material safety data sheets to employees
  • Coordinating and processing requests for additional resources
  • Repairing equipment
  • Arranging for medical support, food and transportation
  • Arranging for shelter facilities
  • Providing for backup power
  • Providing for backup communications
  • Implementing the Incident Demobilization Plan

5. FINANCE/ADMINISTRATION: The Finance/Administration Section has two key missions during an incident:

  1. Cost monitoring and payment: Account for all financial elements related to the incident. This may include providing financial and cost analysis information as requested. The Finance / Administration Section Chief is responsible for tracking all costs incurred during the event.
  2. Administration: Collects, details, and maintains a record of the incident events, investigations, and recovery operations. The administrative component may also be responsible for gathering pertinent information from agency briefings and ensuring all documents initiated at the incident are properly prepared, completed, and submitted as necessary. All teams, sections, and divisions must establish logs and submits copies to the Finance / Administration Section Chief, or delegate every 12 hours (or at determined increments).

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: ICS

Key Corporate Hurricane Planning Tips for the 2016 Season

Posted on Thu, Jun 02, 2016

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st. Is your company prepared?

According to meteorologists, El Niño played a significant role in suppressing the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season. But with El Niño weakening, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast suggests an “average” hurricane season for 2016. However, with the additional uncertainty a developing La Niña during peak months, there is greater chance that a tropical system could impact U.S. businesses compared to the previous three years. Companies should prioritize their efforts to actively review and update their hurricane and business continuity plans, and mitigate potential impacts from a tropical cyclone.

Despite disastrous historical effects on inland locations, hurricanes are typically thought of as a coastal problem. Hurricanes and their lingering destructive winds, tropical flooding rains, and off-shoot tornadoes, can impact businesses far from the initial landfall point. Consequently, emergency and HSE managers must ensure that this season’s hurricane and business continuity plans are up-to-date, effective, and exercised.

Preparation and pre-planning is the key to success of initiating response plans. Be wary of assigning checklists by hurricane category or targeted landfall area as a storm's’ intensity and direction can rapidly fluctuate. Below are key hurricane planning concepts to consider:

  1. Assign and train personnel and departments to complete specific pre and post hurricane responsibilities. Many companies break down checklists by time frame; 5 days prior to landfall, 96-72 hours until landfall, 48 hours until landfall, 24 hours until landfall, 12 hours until landfall, etc
  2. Highlight evacuation routes
  3. Identify the minimum necessary personnel to remain at the facility during the storm, if if deemed safe to do so
  4. Identify redeployment team(s) responsible to secure the site after a storm
  5. Identify needs for conducting necessary business processes off-site, as well as processes for data backup and redundancy
  6. Review alternate location options2016_Atlantic_Hurricane_Season_Outlook.jpg
  7. If applicable, identify and make arrangements for alternate or off-site storage of selected equipment (computers, moving equipment/inventory from potential flood areas)
  8. Coordinate site specific plans with local and county emergency management agencies’ hurricane plans
  9. Inspect the site for potential mitigation measures and initiate countermeasures to minimize damage. If lumber is necessary, pre-cut wood to sizer, mark each panel/piece to identify location. If using storm shutters, identify proper installation procedures and functionality prior to storm
  10. Identify, inspect, and/or purchase materials required to support hurricane preparedness such as generators, battery-operated radios, flashlights, lighting, ice, and additional batteries
  11. Update employee and contractor contacts
  12. Identify primary and alternate communication methods and procedures
  13. Contract post incident suppliers/contractors to supply chain interruption. 
While weather events are not avoidable, companies may limit residual damage, loss, or prolonged interruption to key business processes with mitigation measures and business continuity planning. A detailed company identification and evaluation of critical business processes should be performed as an integral part of a business continuity plan.

A “bare bones” evaluation should identify the minimum criteria necessary to keep a business in operation. Subsequent continuity plans should include procedures for the prevention of loss or restoration of operations. Necessary resources for business continuity may include:

  • Alternate workplace location(s)
  • Necessary equipment
  • Critical software
  • Client records
  • Off-site storage
  • Key vendors lists
  • Inventory and supplier requirements
  • Notification procedures for key stakeholders
  • Predefined personnel roles and responsibilities with current and alternate contact information
  • Business Continuity Team notification and activation procedures
  • Staff relocation requirements, including name, department, title, function code, home address, type of PC (PC or Laptop), number of adults and children in immediate family, pets /other, relocation priority, recovery location or facility, relocation seat number/room assignment, alternate employees, and special needs

Development and maintenance of Hurricane and Business Continuity Plans may be constrained by resources, profit margins, or alternative goals. However, with the potential increase in the forecasted number of storms and prevalence of natural disasters, companies must prioritize preparedness and planning in order minimize potentially damaging losses to critical operations and processes.

TRP Corp Hurricane Checklist

Tags: Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Extreme Weather

Industrial Emergency Response: Planning for Clarity in Chaos

Posted on Thu, May 26, 2016

Emergencies and incidents create circumstances that can prompt chaos. In industrial settings, chaos can stem from anomalies in routine processes, procedures, and critical infrastructures. These instances often generate variables that are potentially dangerous to employees, detrimental to the environment, and costly to a company. Without effective response plans, training, and exercises, emergency and incident responses can be turbulent, disorganized, dangerous, and expensive.

Optimizing a site-specific emergency response program is a critical component to reducing potential chaos at an industrial facility. From technological advancements to implementation of best practices, continually evolving planning programs can reduce impacts on individuals, infrastructures, and the environment. The following preparedness and response planning elements promote consistency, structure, and order to a response.

Mitigation: The risk assessment process can be used to identify situations that may lead to incidents or prolonged responses. While all risks cannot be averted, a facility can become better prepared for disasters if risk mitigation measures are implemented. Mitigation measures may include additional training, updating safety processes and procedures, purchasing newer or additional equipment, or other considerations

Data Accuracy: Providing up-to-date, site-specific information has been proven to limit the duration of the emergency. Emergency planning must incorporate a method to account for evolving operations, varying on-site equipment, and employee turnover. Accurate details of these modifications, expansions, and adjustments must be incorporated into the response plans. If the response plan information is missing or out-of-date, the response will be hindered. Additionally, necessary compliance data relevant to ever-changing regulatory requirements must be accurately applied in order to eliminate the potential for fines.

Accessibility: The faster responders can locate, access, assess, and implement accurate response actions, the sooner an incident can be contained, and operations can be restored to “business as usual”.Web-based response plans offer the greatest secured accessibility option for stakeholders, auditors, and inspectors while bolstering an entire emergency management program. With web-based technology and an Internet connection, response planning program information embedded with database driven software can be immediately and securely available without the “version confusion” typically found in other formats. Both paper-based plans and those housed on a company intranet are often out of date with multiple versions in various locations, potentially misinforming the response team.

Collaboration: Emergency response program effectiveness can be optimized through effective interoperability. Broadening the scope of response expertise can greatly benefit a facility by limiting the timeline of potentially escalating emergencies. Emergency managers should continually meet with government agencies, community organizations, and utility companies throughout the entire planning cycle to discuss likely emergencies and the available resources to minimize the effects on the community. Coordinating planning, training, drills, and resource availability with local agencies and dedicated responders is an important aspect of an effective emergency response program.

Best Practices Implementation: Applying best practices to an emergency response program enables emergency managers to leverage past experiences as a means to improve planning efforts for future emergency response scenarios. By analyzing past incidents and responses, executing enhancements, and reinforcing lessons learned, companies and municipalities will be better prepared than their historical counterparts.

Training: Training programs that include guidance, documentation, and oversight help ensure response knowledge and compliance with agency regulations. Companies need to perform cyclical internal training program audits. These audits emphasize corporate responsibility to employees, the environment, and the surrounding communities and can often reveal inadequacies and mitigation opportunities. Training audits can bring a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk management, control, and corporate governance processes.

Exercises: Exercises provide a setting for operational response procedures to be tested. Real-world exercise scenarios can often highlight potential deficiencies in response plans and procedures, comprehension of individual roles and responsibilities, and disjointed partnership coordination. However, identified deficiencies reveal mitigation opportunities and valuable response knowledge.

Response Plan Audits: Audits, whether conducted by in-house professionals or experienced consultants, can often reveal the same inadequacies and mitigation opportunities as regulatory agencies. Regrettably, some companies address response plan gaps only after an incident or agency inspection occurs. With an objective eye, a gap analysis generated by an audit can bolster a response-planning program and minimize the chance of impeding incidents or large regulatory fines.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Emergency Response

Drought, Wildfire, and Corporate Fire PrePlanning

Posted on Thu, May 19, 2016

According to the U.S. Federal Government, more than 39 million people, or about one-eighth of the U.S. population, is living with drought.  “About 12.5 percent of the continental U.S. was experiencing drought as of mid-March” said Alice Hill, ‎Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Resilience Policy in the White House National Security Council. As warmer temperatures prevail, the probability of wildfires in drought prone areas increases, threatening every community and company facility in its path.

Although the west coast has been affected by a long term severe drought, other areas of the country are experiencing impacts, as well. In early March, before peak wildfire season, Kansas experienced the largest wildfires in state history. The fire burned nearly 620 square miles in southern Kansas and Oklahoma. The National Interagency Fire Center predicted above normal significant fire potential from the southern plains, expanding to the mid-Mississippi Valley and lower Ohio Valleys, and eventually to the Great Lakes as drier and warmer trends continue through the spring months.

Wildfires can have significant impacts on industry. Any situation that hinders a company's ability to access key infrastructure and perform critical operations requires thoughtful and effective response planning initiatives. Scenario specific plan evaluations that enable personnel to identify, prioritize, and respond to natural disasters, such as wildfires, is critical for minimizing losses and financial damages.

An initial fire pre-plan assessment should be conducted to identify the likelihood of wildfires in your area. If one or more of a company’s facilities has the potential to be in the path of a wildfire, management should ensure fire pre-plans are up-to date and effective, and take the following preventative measures to minimize risk.

  1. Cut back brush or vegetation that may be impeding on any structures on your property.
  2. Remove dead wood and combustible litter from the site.
  3. If possible, enclose the underside of eaves and decks with fire-resistant materials to keep out flying embers.
  4. Cover exterior vents with fire retardant mesh screens to prevent embers from entering building
  5. Develop, review, and share fire pre plans with local fire departments
  6. Train employees of fire prevention, evacuation procedures, and fire safety measures
  7. Identify on-site and external equipment resources, procuring contracts if necessary (fire trucks, Backhoe/Front end loader for cutting fire breaks)
  8. Check functionality of sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers
  9. Evaluate and maintain irrigation system
  10. If applicable, establish response team and train as necessary

The foundation of an effective fire pre-plan is based on site-specific details and up-to-date information. This pertinent information greatly assists responders in determining response methods and optimal equipment needs. Internal response teams and external fire departments should have knowledge of potential hazards and associated facility details prior to arriving at an incident. Shared fire pre plans can promote a coordinated, expedient, and safer response in the event of a wildfire.

Fire pre plans generally include information that will be used by decision makers at the incident. Below are a few insightful fire pre plan helpful hints to consider when developing your site-specific plans:

  • Emergency procedures should include tactical consideration and personnel accountability measures.
  • Update and share plans with external responders and fire departments, as necessary. It is critical to include updated contact information for key staff, as well as status updates of new construction and renovations.
  • Implement a securely accessible means for pre plan storage, retrieval, and sharing.
  • Ensure plans are intuitive and easy to read. . Fire responses may occur when light and/or visibility is limited. The easier the plan is to read, the better it is for all responders.
  • Utilize plot plans to separate large complexes into response sections. It may be optimal to divide complex into color-coded quadrants. Response strategies can be developed for each quadrant, making it much easier to respond to fires in large complexes.
  • Accurately identify alarm panel locations, key box locations, and hydrants.
  • Specify location and details of stored hazardous materials
  • Coordinate response exercises with fire departments
  • Implement lessons learned and new firefighting tactics into response plans

 

TRP Corp Fire Pre-Plans Pre Fire Plan

Tags: Fire Pre Plans, Fire Preparedness