FEMA’s 31 core capabilities catalog distinct emergency preparedness elements utilized in national preparedness efforts and adaptable frameworks. The capabilities fall into one or more of the five mission areas: prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery.
The ability to respond effectively to an emergency or disaster can be challenging, hazardous, and multifaceted. Potential response challenges should be identified and addressed during pre-incident planning to ensure all response aspects are accounted for during an incident. However, response measures and decisive actions must be based on actual incident conditions. Planned processes, procedures, and overall response efforts must be flexible enough to effectively respond to the incident.
In part 4 of this series of blogs, we will explore the core capabilities relating to FEMA’s mission area of response. Although the FEMA concepts of the core capabilities are aimed at the public sector and governmental jurisdictions, companies should evaluate these response elements for site specific applicability, methodology, and planning. Implementation of identified measures can minimize responder’s risks and advance strategic and tactical response objectives.
Critical Transportation: “Provide transportation (including infrastructure access and accessible transportation services) for response priority objectives, including the evacuation of people and animals, and the delivery of vital response personnel, equipment, and services into the affected areas.”
Plot plans, evacuation maps, and tactical planning provide site-specific details to understand transportation requirements and factors. Identifying adequate access and egress points and potential response location(s) at the facility enhances safety and minimizes response time.
Environmental Response/Health and Safety: “Ensure the availability of guidance and resources to address all hazards including hazardous materials, acts of terrorism, and natural disasters in support of the responder operations and the affected communities.”
On-site personnel and response team members must be aware of their predefined roles, responsibilities, and assignments. By identifying specific personnel training needs and responder capabilities, all potential hazards should be accounted for, in order to support a cohesive and effective response.
Fatality Management Services: “Provide fatality management services, including body recovery and victim identification, working with state and local authorities to provide temporary mortuary solutions, sharing information with mass care services for the purpose of reunifying family members and caregivers with missing persons/remains, and providing counseling to the bereaved.”
Implementation of a unified command, including a Liaison Officer, can provide necessary multiagency coordination to manage fatalities and associated issues. In the event an incident grows in size and complexity, off-site recovery support and coordination may be required to provide additional services. Pre-planned coordination efforts among specified emergency management entities offer the opportunity for a more cohesive response across a large location.
Infrastructure Systems: “Stabilize critical infrastructure functions, minimize health and safety threats, and efficiently restore and revitalize systems and services to support a viable, resilient community.”
The ability to identify and quantify critical infrastructure functions that, when not functional, may hinder the ability to operate, is a critical stage in the business continuity planning process. As a result, response priorities should include preservation of those critical functions. Minimizing infrastructural effects, limiting environmental impacts, and maximizing safety can allow for a more viable company in the aftermath of an incident.
Mass Care Services: “Provide life-sustaining services to the affected population with a focus on hydration, feeding, and sheltering to those who have the most need, as well as support for reunifying families.”
Pre-Identifying health care facilities, providers, and community aid organizations can minimize response times for those affected by an incident, potentially minimizing mortality rates. Establishing relationships and memorandums of understanding with assisting entities provides a comprehensive knowledge of response capabilities and the potential needs of the community.
Mass Search and Rescue Operations: “Deliver traditional and atypical search and rescue capabilities, including personnel, services, animals, and assets to survivors in need, with the goal of saving the greatest number of endangered lives in the shortest time possible.”
Broadening the scope of response expertise can greatly limit the timeline of initiating search and rescue operations. Local agencies and specialized contractors may provide additional targeted knowledge based on particular research, experiences, or occupational training. A cohesive agreement between the response team and search and rescue experts should create synchronized operations during the response, and as transition is made from response to recovery.
On-scene Security and Protection: “Ensure a safe and secure environment through law enforcement and related security and protection operations for people and communities located within affected areas and also for all traditional and atypical response personnel engaged in lifesaving and life-sustaining operations.”
Due to the large amount of public attention and increased on-site population at disaster locations, preparing for and responding with additional security measures should be part of the emergency management process. Security protocols should be reviewed to educate security personnel on roles and responsibilities, and inform responders of potential security measures. Such exercises can strengthen security awareness and reduce the potential for added security-related incidents. Each response should incorporate security measures to ensure the safety of personnel, contractors, and response teams.
Operational Communications: “Ensure the capacity for timely communications in support of security, situational awareness, and operations by any and all means available, among and between affected communities in the impact area and all response forces.”
Communicating timely and accurate information to/among facility managers, critical decision makers, emergency response teams, stakeholders, vendors and contractors, and the public, is an important element to any emergency management function. From notification to demobilization, commonly understood terminology is essential for clear communication. Communicating through unfamiliar company radio codes, agency-specific language, perplexing acronyms, or specialized jargon will disconnect and confuse employees, responders, communities, and/or stakeholders, possibly prolonging a response and the initiation of necessary actions. An effective response relies heavily on the ability to put forth effective communications.
Public and Private Services and Resources: “Provide essential public and private services and resources to the affected population and surrounding communities, to include emergency power to critical facilities, fuel support for emergency responders, and access to community staples (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks) and fire and other first response services.”
Emergency managers should liaise with government agencies, community organizations, and utility companies throughout the planning cycle to discuss likely emergencies and the available resources available to minimize the effects on the community. During a response, these entities can provide services necessary to minimize the effects of the incident and allow for a more timely response.
Public Health and Medical Services: “Provide lifesaving medical treatment via emergency medical services and related operations and avoid additional disease and injury by providing targeted public health and medical support and products to all people in need within the affected area.”
The safety and health of on-site individuals, as well as the surrounding communities, must be a response priority. Delivering timely medical treatment to exposed populations can stabilize victims and potentially minimize the mortality rate. Necessary recovery processes for victims must be assessed and initiated, and medical surge resources must be allocated as necessary.
Situational Assessment: “Provide all decision makers with decision-relevant information regarding the nature and extent of the hazard, any cascading effects, and the status of the response.”
Improving decision management, timely communications, and swift implementation of response strategies can limit resulting effects of an emergency situation. Continual tactical discussions should reveal situational details that enable response strategies to be implemented or altered. Situational assessments are crucial to the decision-making process, as well as identifying resources necessary to procure incident stabilization and meet basic human needs.
The next blog, Part 5 of the series, will address the core capabilities related to recovery. To begin reading Part 1 of this series, click here.
Download this free 9-Step sample Emergency Response Procedures Flow Chart:
While all risks cannot not be avoided, companies can minimize the potential of an incident if risk mitigation measures are identified and implemented. FEMA has identified 31 core capabilities that should be incorporated into emergency management programs. Four of these core capabilities fall under the mission area of mitigation.
In Part 3 of this series on core capabilities, we will explore the concepts relating to FEMA’s mission area of mitigation. Although the FEMA concepts of the core capabilities are aimed at the public sector and governmental jurisdictions, companies should evaluate these mitigation elements for site specific applicability. Implementation of identified mitigation measures can minimize risks and advance corporate strategic and tactical environmental, health, and safety (EHS) goals.
According to FEMA, the concept of mitigation includes the core capabilities necessary to reduce the potential for loss of life, property damage, and environmental impacts. By reducing the potential, consequences and impacts, the duration, and the financial and human costs related to response and recovery, a company becomes more resilient.
Risk mitigation includes recognizing, understanding, communicating, and planning for possible arrangements, procedures, and/or assets that can directly minimize the impact or likelihood of the threat, or simplify or automate recovery requirements. Each facility has its own unique associated risks, however, through dedicated risk mitigation analysis and proactive measures, hazards and business disruptions can be minimized.
Community Resilience: “Lead the integrated effort to recognize, understand, communicate, plan, and address risks so that the community can develop a set of actions to accomplish Mitigation and improve resilience.”
It is critical to gain corporate support to ensure reliance and the financial backing for necessary mitigation efforts. EHS programs should include training efforts that highlight potential threats/hazards and instruct individuals on procedures and processes that minimize those risks. An enterprise-wide program that prioritizes safety reinforces its commitment to individuals and the surrounding environment.
Long-term Vulnerability Reduction: “Build and sustain resilient systems, communities, and critical infrastructure and key resources lifelines so as to reduce their vulnerability to natural, technological, and human-caused incidents by lessening the likelihood, severity, and duration of the adverse consequences related to these incidents.”
A continual effort to improve safety measures, mitigate risks, and apply lessons learned bolsters the long-term viability of a company. Quantifying measurable safety statistics with baseline information allows companies to determine if mitigation efforts and safety measures are successful. By analyzing preparedness measures, companies can determine which priorities to implement to reduce long-term vulnerabilities. As companies grow and infrastructure expands, proven safety measures can be incorporated into site specific preparedness and operational activities.
Risk and Disaster Resilience Assessment: “Assess risk and disaster resilience so that decision makers, responders, and community members can take informed action to reduce their entity's risk and increase their resilience.”
A business impact analysis should be used to identify critical business processes, potential recovery strategies, and areas that could benefit from risk mitigation. This resilience assessment should be used as a tool for EHS management to identify potential vulnerabilities and initiate proactive changes to minimize impacts if a disaster were to occur. If the level of risk identified is deemed unsafe or unacceptable for operational viability, additional recovery options, safety procedures, or applicable strategies may need to be developed and implemented.
Threats and Hazard Identification: “Identify the threats and hazards that occur in the geographic area; determine the frequency and magnitude; and incorporate this into analysis and planning processes so as to clearly understand the needs of a community or entity.”
Threats and vulnerabilities can stem from both external and internal actions. Therefore, companies must analyze potential threats from a variety of potential sources. A localized vulnerability and impact analysis should include typical weather patterns, geographical influences, security efforts, cyber evaluations, inherent operational hazards, as well as facility design and potential maintenance issues. Companies who understand associated risks can better prepare for and possibly mitigate vulnerabilities.
The next blog, Part 4 of this series, will address the core capabilities related to response. To begin reading Part 1 of this series, click here.
FEMA has identified 31 core capabilities that should be incorporated into emergency management programs. Although the concepts are aimed at the public sector and governmental jurisdictions, companies can evaluate these elements for site specific applicability and implement appropriate elements to actualize corporate strategic and tactical environmental, health, and safety (EHS) goals.
In Part 2 of this series on core capabilities, we will explore the concepts relating to FEMA’s mission areas of prevention and protection, and the core concepts that fall under these areas.
Prevention “includes those capabilities necessary to avoid, prevent, or stop a threatened or actual act of terrorism. It is focused on ensuring we are optimally prepared to prevent an imminent terrorist attack within the United States.”
Forensics and Attribution: “Conduct forensic analysis and attribute terrorist acts (including the means and methods of terrorism) to their source, to include forensic analysis as well as attribution for an attack and for the preparation for an attack in an effort to prevent initial or follow-on acts and/or swiftly develop counter-options.”
Companies must remain vigilant in preventing terrorism. By prioritizing the analysis of on-site sources, such as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive material, companies can help to prevent initial or follow-on terrorist acts. Site-specific awareness training can broaden the scope of prevention by identifying potential sources and/or attributes associated with a terrorist attack.
The following capabilities protect individual and critical corporate assets, systems, and networks against threats. EHS programs must institute these critical protective measures to promote business continuity. The ability to identify, quantify, and secure critical business processes that, when not functional, may damage a company’s reputation or ability to operate, is a critical stage in the business continuity planning process.
Access Control and Identity Verification: “Apply a broad range of physical, technological, and cyber measures to control admittance to critical locations and systems, limiting access to authorized individuals to carry out legitimate activities.”
Cybersecurity: “Protect against damage to, the unauthorized use of, and/or the exploitation of (and, if needed, the restoration of) electronic communications systems and services (and the information contained therein).”
Physical Protective Measures: “Reduce or mitigate risks, including actions targeted at threats, vulnerabilities, and/or consequences, by controlling movement and protecting borders, critical infrastructure, and the homeland.”
Risk Management for Protection Programs and Activities: “Identify, assess, and prioritize risks to inform Protection activities and investments.”
Supply Chain Integrity and Security: “Strengthen the security and resilience of the supply chain.”
Intelligence and Information Sharing: “Provide timely, accurate, and actionable information resulting from the planning, direction, collection, exploitation, processing, analysis, production, dissemination, evaluation, and feedback of available information concerning threats to the United States, its people, property, or interests; the development, proliferation, or use of WMDs; or any other matter bearing on U.S. national or homeland security by Federal, state, local, and other stakeholders. Information sharing is the ability to exchange intelligence, information, data, or knowledge among Federal, state, local, or private sector entities, as appropriate.”
Intelligence and information sharing are important components of the Incident Command System. Capitalizing on lessons learned enables companies to improve methodology based on actual experiences. To advance an EHS program, managers should include cyclical plan reviews to allow lessons learned to be implemented into preparedness, training and exercises.
Interdiction and Disruption: “Delay, divert, intercept, halt, apprehend, or secure threats and/or hazards.”
Companies must establish consistent protocols and regulatory compliance measures to maintain safe operations and minimize exposures. This includes proper and secure handling and disposal of hazardous materials capable of bringing harm to individuals, assets, or the environment. The objective is to remain vigilant in order to prevent potential threats, including terrorism.
Screening, Search, and Detection: “Identify, discover, or locate threats and/or hazards through active and passive surveillance and search procedures. This may include the use of systematic examinations and assessments, sensor technologies, or physical investigation and intelligence.”
Companies must be keenly aware of any operations that can potentially targeted or used in a terroristic manner. Proper identifications of materials and individuals, as well as security protocols must be reviewed to guard against potential harm.
The next blog, Part 3 of the series, will address the core capabilities related to mitigation. To begin reading Part 1 of this series, click here.
For an understanding of the necessary elements in creating an effective fire pre plan, download our Fire Pre Planning Guide.
According to FEMA, “Preparedness is achieved and maintained through a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating and taking corrective action.“ In order to achieve these strategic and tactical environmental, health, and safety (EHS) goals, specific FEMA identified core capabilities can be incorporated into the emergency management program.
In this 5-part series, Applying FEMA's Core Capabilities to Corporate EHS Programs, we will explore the 31 core capabilities identified by FEMA and how they apply to the private sector. The 31 components catalog distinct emergency preparedness elements utilized in national preparedness efforts and frameworks and are broken up into five mission areas: prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery. However, the first three FEMA critical capabilities encompass all of the five mission areas. As a result, a successful EHS program should begin with the following core concepts:
Planning: “Conduct a systematic process engaging the whole community as appropriate in the development of executable strategic, operational, and/or community-based approaches to meet defined objectives.”
The first critical step in reaching preparedness goals is environmental, health and safety planning. A consistent, company-wide emergency response planning structure delivers common processes for assessing, prioritizing, and responding to incidents. These predetermined procedures provide a consistent structure to an EHS program.
Streamlining the systematic process structure enables a cohesive emergency response from company and external responders, from prevention to recovery. With a detailed plan in place, response objectives and preparedness goals can be met with coordinated operational support and integrated incident response.
Public Information and Warning: “Deliver coordinated, prompt, reliable, and actionable information to the whole community through the use of clear, consistent, accessible, and culturally and linguistically appropriate methods to effectively relay information regarding any threat or hazard, as well as the actions being taken and the assistance being made available, as appropriate.”
The execution of a solid communication plan should begin in the planning phase, not on the verge of, during, or in the aftermath of a disaster. Through planning, a communication plan can be fully integrated into the overall disaster or incident response plan. Communications planning may include contact verifications, training awareness, exercise coordination, incident activation, response notifications, public relations, and other site-specific needs. These efforts must be timely, accurate, and conclusive to bolster the overall company strategic and tactical preparedness objectives.
However, the lines of two-way communication must extend beyond the planning phase. Effective communications is the bridge to stabilizing a crisis situation. An EHS program must include a communication framework with checklists and response criteria that will guide the decision-making processes to allow for an effective response and recovery, while maximizing safety and minimizing impacts.
As technology and communication methods evolve, companies must make an effort to incorporate accepted systematic formats, mainstream methodology, and digital response tactics into EHS programs. This may mean implementing communications methods through satellite radios, social media, smart phones, and/or cloud-based technologies. Companies must develop processes to assess incoming and outgoing information from multiple sources, organize it systematically, display and relay applicable information for logistical value, communicate essential information to appropriate parties, and store response data in the event it is necessary for further communications.
Operational Coordination: “Establish and maintain a unified and coordinated operational structure and process that appropriately integrates all critical stakeholders and supports the execution of core capabilities.”
Companies should focus its EHS preparedness efforts around the Incident Command System (ICS), which provides the structure for effective management of response resources. The ICS is a standardized management concept designed to enable an integrated response, despite its complexity, response demands, and jurisdictional boundaries.
By integrating a commonly accepted organizational structure and characteristics into a company EHS program, preparedness, communications, training, exercises, and response operations can be coordinated within a unified command. The unified command allows stakeholders, responders, and agencies with different legal, geographic, and functional authorities to work together effectively without affecting individual agency authority, responsibility, or accountability.
The development, comprehension, and practical application of the ICS and an interoperable communications plan streamlines procedures, clarifies responsible parties and reporting relationships, and eliminated confusion caused by multiple, conflicting directives and authorities.
The next blog, Part 2 of the series, will address the core capabilities related to prevention and protection.
For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.
Hazardous materials become most hazardous when they are released. The potential risks associated with hazardous material releases heighten the need for risk-based decision making. As a result, hazardous material incident management should reflect site specific planning, training, and exercises that minimize hazardous material impacts and restrict potential chaos.
- Response plans should clearly dictate processes and procedures that minimize hazardous material impacts.
- Training must be aligned with response roles and responsibilities, facility operations, and regulatory requirements. (see Hazard Communication Standard - 29 CFR1910.1200)
- Exercises should include hazardous material release scenarios that allow response team members to collaborate and communicate assigned roles, responsibilities, and required actions in response to one or more site specific scenarios.
“Hazardous Materials” is a general term intended to mean hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants as defined by the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). The term includes blood borne pathogens and infectious disease as defined by OSHA's Blood borne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030).
The potential for harm to individuals, the environment, or the facility may be escalated due to the release of certain hazardous materials. However, expedient and safe cleanup operations can minimize exposures and limit the impact of an incident. Hazardous substance releases must be removed, contained, incinerated, neutralized, or stabilized with the ultimate goal of making the site safer for people or the environment.
Identifying the potential threats and probable incident scenarios enables proper pre-planning. Response procedures and processes can be incorporated into the site-specific plans to proactively facilitate corrective actions in the event of a hazardous release. The following hazardous material incident management concepts should be considered and incorporated in planning, training, and exercising a response:
- Proper PPE for employees, contractors, and responders
- Specific waste handling procedures and, if applicable, appropriate contractors
- Disposal plan in accordance with any federal, state, and/or local regulations
- Facility-specific disposal locations for different types of materials
- Continuous tracking of hazardous materials quantities to better estimate amount of waste generated
- Methods and procedures for waste collection, segregation, storage, transportation, and proper disposal
- Regulatory review of applicable laws to ensure compliance and appropriate permitting
- Documentation of all waste handling and disposal activities
From the onset of an incident involving hazardous materials, incident managers should establish specific, measurable objectives for functional response activities. Incident Action Plans (IAPs) are used to guide hazardous response activities and provide a concise means of capturing and communicating the incident manager’s priorities, objectives, strategies, protocol, and tactics for both operational and support activities.
The incident manager must manage all resources, both internal and external. Unless, a facility has a dedicated, trained, and certified response team, external responders should be identified for hazardous material response operations support. However, the incident manager must maintain clear communication of response objectives as to eliminate confusion caused by multiple, conflicting directives and authorities.
The level of detail required in IAPs varies with each scenario. However, plans should facilitate the sharing of critical incident status information. Because hazardous material incident parameters may continually evolve, IAPs must be revised on a regular basis (at least once per operational period) to maintain consistent, up-to-date guidance for incoming responders or management.
At each phase of a response, the incident manager should perform critical assessments and specify clear operational objectives to responsible parties, eliminating potential confusion caused by multiple, conflicting directives and authorities. Through proper preparedness planning and cleanup and disposal procedures, hazardous material management planning can limit environmental liability, and as an effect, minimize additional immediate and long-term financial burdens.
The Incident Command System (ICS) is a tool used to standardize on-scene, all-hazards incident management. ICS allows for the integration of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications, operating within a common organizational structure for more effective incident response. Utilizing ICS allows Incident Commanders (IC) to develop incident-specific strategic objectives and facilitate response procedures to ensure a streamlined, effective, and safe response.
The incident may dictate response plan modifications. Early incident evaluations enable the IC to evaluate and determine the appropriate activation level of site personnel, prescribe the necessary sequence of events, and implement appropriate processes. Number of personnel required to staff an onsite Emergency Response Team will depend on the facility operations, and size and complexity of the incident.
Corporate response structures should reflect ICS principles, yet a facility's IC should be authorized the flexibility to modify a response and organizational structure as necessary to accomplish the incident response mission. As a result, company procedures may be altered to align within the context of the ICS and address a particular hazard scenario.
The Incident Commander should be responsible for directing the response activities and be trained to assume the duties of all the primary positions until the role(s) can be handed off to assigned response team members, or delegated to other qualified personnel. The more knowledgeable individuals are of their response roles and responsibilities, the better prepared a team can be to implement a streamlined response. Effective incident command should be maintained from the beginning to the end of operations, particularly if command is transferred. Any lapse in the continuity of command and the transfer of information may reduce the effectiveness of the response.
Incident Commander responsibilities may include, but are not limited to:
- Activate the Emergency Response team
- Activate additional response contractors and local resources
- Evaluate the severity, potential impact, safety concerns, and response requirements based on the initial information provided by the first person on-scene.
- Confirm safety aspects at site, including need for personal protective equipment, ignition sources, and potential need for evacuation.
- Communicate and provide incident briefings to company superiors, as appropriate.
- Coordinate/complete additional internal and external notifications.
- Communicate with Emergency Response Team, as the situation demands
- Direct response and cleanup operation
Priorities of an Incident Commander should include, but are not limited to the following:
Early evaluation and continual incident updates: Through early and continual progress evaluations of current conditions, the IC can establish and alter an incident action plan to counteract the circumstances. The consideration of population and responder safety should be incorporated into every evaluation, response tactic, and impact forecast.
Effective communications: The ability to receive and transmit information, obtain reports to maintain situational awareness, and communicate with all components within the incident response organization is essential to ensure effective supervision and effective response controls.
Strategic decisions: The response team’s risk level is driven by incident circumstances and impeding response strategy. An offensive strategy places members in interior positions where they are likely to have direct contact with the incident or hazard. While an offensive strategy may result in a more timely response, the IC must ensure the team’s training level is adequate with this type of approach. A defensive strategy removes members from interior positions and high-risk activities. The defensive approach may minimize incident escalations until properly trained responders arrive at the scene. The IC, in conjunction with the response plan, may assign basic positioning and functions of internal and external responders and allocates necessary resources at the scene or emergency incident.
Tactical-level management: Tactical response management centers around the tactics used to implement the strategy. The IC may utilize tactical-level management from within the facility or from an off-site command center. Tactical response team members may include operational, communications, safety manager, liaison officers, and/or other managing supervisors. The response team is able to monitor responders while the response is being done and can provide the necessary support. However, it is the responsibility of the IC to ensure tactical objectives are completed effectively. The initial objective priorities of tactical management should include:
- Removing endangered occupants (evacuation or shelter in place), and attend to injured individuals
- Stabilizing the incident to minimize expansion
- Providing for the safety, accountability, and welfare of personnel
- Protecting the environment
- Protecting property
For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for Effective Exercises.
A recent Forbes article entitled 4 Essential Business Lessons Not Just Learned But Incorporated
focuses on key attributes that enabled small business entrepreneurs’ to embrace lesson learned and turn them into successes. Although the article focuses on entrepreneurs, the four core concepts identified are key characteristics reflective of a successful emergency management or business continuity program. The four attributes identified are:
Companies are continually experiencing incidents, emergencies, and disasters that affect their ability to function “normally”. The lessons learned from these experiences are invaluable, and if applied, can alter the priorities of a corporate emergency management program. Deliberating on and implementing lessons learned can positively impact company preparedness.
Focus: Each company’s location, workforce, and operations are unique. Response plans should be should targeted and reflect these specific individualities. The site specific information must be all-inclusive and should include, but not be limited to, facility details, the workforce, and supply chains.
Facility: Detailed and specific physical attributes should be included in response plans. This should not be limited to the latitude and longitude of the site, but inclusive of each facet of operations. This may include equipment (both operational and available response equipment), plot plans, tank and pipeline details, evacuation routes, and hazardous materials. . A responder can better ascertain potential response considerations when accurate and up-to-date facility details are included in a response plans.
Workforce: Focused information regarding workforce (including contractors and responders) enables a comprehensive awareness of contact information, as well as specific assigned roles and responsibilities of each person. Incorporating specific human resource information into a plan allows for the plan to be more actionable and targeted.
Supply Chains: A facility is typically dependent on external suppliers, both in the operational and response capacity. Identifying supply chain vulnerabilities, critical suppliers, and alternate resources is important to ensure a rapid response to an incident. An emergency manager must be focused on what resources are necessary to restore and maintain operations, and the necessary supply chain for product/services delivery. These supply chains need to be protected, reinforced, and quickly restored in order to secure business continuity.
Collaborate: Improving disaster response capabilities requires coordination across all levels of government, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations. Collaborative pre-planning and exercising interoperable responses can minimize bureaucratic surprises and result in a more effective and timely response. In the aftermath of an incident, processes, procedures, and emotions often sidetrack an effective response. Collaborative planning and exercise efforts may validate participants’ positions, align priorities and common interests, and motivate participants to seek compromise for the good of an effective response. Implementing the use of the Incident Command System (ICS) is an important element, providing “structure across multi jurisdictional or multi agency incident management activities to enable agencies with different legal, jurisdictional, and functional responsibilities to coordinate, plan, and interact effectively on scene.” Streamlined, collaborative efforts accelerate a response and recovery.
Simplify: New response planning and communication technologies can simplify the process of developing, updating, and maintaining effective and compliant plans. While some new technology is often seen as impeding on simplicity, seeking out intuitive tools that can be seamlessly interfaced across multiple internal and external response components can expedite emergency management. Companies need to embrace an effortlessly straightforward emergency management structure that will support comprehensive, collaborative, and coherent preparedness, and implement the concept of sustainability into emergency management endeavors.
Adapt: Adaptability is a crucial emergency management industry attribute, necessary to survive an ever-changing environment. Incidents, response plans, and personnel are naturally dynamic. An emergency management program and coordinating response plans must be flexible enough to adapt to the situation and ensure personnel are trained according to their applicable response roles and responsibilities. Response plans should reflect the National Response Framework, a collaborative system “built upon scalable, flexible, and adaptable coordinating structures to align key roles and responsibilities.” By implementing manageable frameworks, technologies, processes, and procedures, companies can modify a multi-faceted emergency management to more effectively respond to an incident.
For an understanding of the necessary elements in creating an effective fire pre plan, download our Fire Pre Planning Guide.
To ensure employee safety, business continuity, regulatory compliance, and environmental responsibility, companies must dedicate efforts to developing an effective emergency management program. Financial restraints, combined with a “it won’t happen to me” mentality often destroy a corporate preparedness commitment. However, neglecting the concept of a potential worst case scenario or daily operational risks can be detrimental to a company. Accidents, man-made and natural disasters, human error, and equipment failures occur throughout the world on a daily basis. Companies need to embrace the “not if, but when” discourse of response planning.
Below is a compilation of blogs that address emergency and disaster preparedness, from training and fire pre planning to demobilization and post-incident reviews. The information contained in these the blogs can be used to enhance preparedness efforts and reinforce safety, security, and regulatory compliance.
Initial Planning Efforts: Corporate preservation and resilience requires planning. Preparedness can ensure response processes and procedures are in place to protect employees, the environment, and company assets, while minimizing the effects of an incident, sustaining or recovering operations, and complying with regulatory requirements. Every company is unique and requires site risk analysis, specific employee training, and tailored plans to suit their particular needs, in the event of an incident, disaster, crisis, or disruption. Although circumstances are unique to the needs of each company, the following blogs provide planning initiatives that may be applicable:
- Hazardous Material Response Team Training Requirements
- Emergency Response Team Roles and Responsibilities
- Business Impact Analysis for Risk Mitigation
- Facility Risk Management Planning
- The Responsibility of Oil Spill Response: The Qualified Individual
Plan Types: Companies are unique in terms of geographic location, personnel, type of operations, and management approach. As a result, various plan types may be required to address various hazards and regulatory requirements. Specific risks and threats are unique to company, industry, region, and enterprise operations and should be addressed through site-specific plans. Below is a sampling of blogs detailing various plan types that are utilized:
- Pre Fire Plan Checklist
- The Four Phases of a Business Continuity Plan
- Emergency Planning for Natural Disasters
- SPCC and Oil Contingency Plans
- Corporate Level Emergency Management Plans
Initial Response: Understanding the process and procedures set forth in the response plans, as well as the management of those plans, dictate the initial effectiveness of a response. Executing an effective response can be a complex process of managing multiple simultaneous elements to ensure a swift and success recovery. Response actions require flexibility, ongoing communication, command unity, resource management, and more. The blogs below address various topics that reflect the procedural and managerial response aspects associated in specific incidents:
- Disaster Management Planning Details
- Top 10 Checklist for Confined Space Entry
- 10 Commonly used Incident Management Forms
- Real-Time Incident Management Speeds Up Incident Response
- Seven HAZWOPER Training Categories and Response Capabilities
Post Incident: Once an incident is concluded, it is vital to conduct a thorough and objective response evaluation. A post incident review is one of the most neglected aspects of preparedness, yet it can enhance and strengthen a company’s response management and recovery operations. Response assessments should be all-inclusive, from preparedness to demobilization, and reveal strengths, weaknesses, and concerns based upon organizational and institutional standards. Collaborative industrial and historical lessons learned should be continually reflected in preparedness planning. Utilizing the knowledge of employees, experts, and those involved in previous incidents can streamline response measures for future situations.
- 10 Points for a Post Incident Management Critique
- Crisis Management Reviews Identify Deficiencies
- The Emergency Response Plan- Demobilization and Post Incident Review
- 5 Key Point to Review in Facility Emergency Operations Plans
- Use "Lessons Learned" to Improve Emergency Response
For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.
A recently released study entitled Staging and Performing Emergencies: The Role of Exercises in UK Preparedness states that comprehensive exercises are essential for an effective response to various types of emergencies. Just as incidents vary in scale, duration, and complexity, training and response exercises need to be inclusive of site specific threats and risks. Authors Dr Ben Anderson and Dr Peter Adey of the report told Science Omega magazine that there are three core reasons why exercises are beneficial and increase the likelihood of an effective response.
- Collaboration Rehearsal: Exercises enable separate organizations to collaborate in a real-world simulation of an incident. Organizations that operate separately on a day-to-day basis must collaborate on procedures that would be necessary in an actual emergency. Dr. Anderson states, “Exercises allow organizations the opportunity to work together, both formally, in terms of enabling various protocols or communication procedures to be used, and informally, in terms of getting to know the organizational culture of other bodies”.
- Test strategies and plans: Exercises allow the various strategic response components to be tested. Through real-world exercise scenarios, companies can evaluate procedures and plans before the real event.
- Confirm roles and responsibilities: Exercises reveal response competencies. Employees and responders must have a thorough understanding of required roles and responsibilities in order to react effectively, make timely decisions, and perform appropriate actions within high-pressure emergency situations.
Response plan exercises may incorporate on-site operational responders. The typical staffed operational responder is trained for defensive reactions, not to terminate the release. Their main function is to contain the release from a safe distance, keep it from spreading and prevent exposures. The ability to terminate a release may require a higher level of training.
A response effort by trained emergency personnel or other designated responders (i.e., fire brigade, mutual aid groups, local fire departments), would then go into effect. An event that requires outside emergency assistance can be, but is not limited to, an uncontrolled release of a hazardous material, fire, explosion, and serious injury or illness to personnel where there is a potential risk of exposure to blood borne pathogens.
If a facility has hazardous material on-site, HAZWOPER training may be necessary. The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) applies to specific groups of employers and their employees. Employees who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances, including hazardous waste, are required to obtain HAZWOPER training.
OHSA mandates that individuals who work in the following areas must complete the standard HAZWOPER training.
- General site workers: Individuals, such as equipment operators, general laborers and supervisory personnel, who are engaged in hazardous substance removal or other activities which expose or potentially expose workers to hazardous substances and health.
- Operations crew: Individuals involved in hazardous wastes that are conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal facilities regulated by 40 CFR Parts 264 and 265 pursuant to RCRA; or by agencies under agreement with U.S.E.P.A. to implement RCRA regulations.
- Emergency response operations team: Those directly involved in responding to the releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard.
There are various training levels with HAZWOPER. Training levels should reflect the type of work and the potential hazard involved in the work.
- 40-hour HAZWOPER Training: Those individuals directly involved in the cleaning up of hazardous materials, its storage, or its transportation should take the 40-hour HAZWOPER course. The 40 hour course is required for the safety of workers at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
- 24-hour HAZWOPER Training: Appropriate training for those who are less directly involved with uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (such as, but not limited to, ground water monitoring, land surveying, or geophysical surveying).
- 8-hour HAZWOPER Training: Managers are required to attain the same level of training (either the 40-hour or 24-hour training) as those they supervise, and an additional 8 hours.
There are numerous sources for OSHA-based HAZWOPER training, from community colleges to private consultants. However, companies must insure that the trainer teaches the required material and provides certification to the students. The certification is assigned to the employee, not the employer. Because of this, individuals must receive the full training mandated, not just those areas that are covered at the current work site.
For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for Effective Exercises.
The oil and gas industry is statistically one of the safest operating industrial sectors in the United States. Although the record and public image of the oil and gas industry has been tested with highly publicized tragic incidents, vital responsive and proactive measures, including procedural and preparedness efforts, continue to be implemented in order to safely minimize accidents and catastrophes.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the oil and gas extraction industry, as well as the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry, accounted for the some of the lowest recordable occupational injuries incident rates in private industry for 2011. In the manufacturing industry, only computer and electronics manufacturers ranked lower.
The following are a sampling of private oil and gas industry sectors’ total recordable incidence (TRI) rates represented by the number of injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers:
- Oil and gas extraction - .9 TRI
- Pipeline transportation - 1.5 TRI
- Petroleum and coal products manufacturing - 2.0 TRI
- Chemical manufacturing - 2.4 TRI
- Gasoline station - 2.5 TRI
- Utilities - 3.5 TRI
“America’s oil and natural gas industry considers safety its top priority and is committed to developing the technologies, standards and best practices, and programs needed to help ensure that workplace safety is at the forefront of our activities.” - The American Petroleum Institute (API)
Many of the responsive and proactive measures to enhance safety are implemented by industry specific groups. The API, a U.S. national trade organization, consists of corporate members that include producers, refiners, suppliers, pipeline operators, marine operators, supply companies, and service operators. The organization collaborates the collective wisdom of its membership, to implement recommended standards, many of which are adopted by government regulators and the International Organization for Standards. The API’s Board of Directors established segmented, resource, strategic, and standards committees to discuss oil and gas issues.
Segmented committees within the API give a public voice to the oil and gas industry. Members include both large and small companies who, while focusing on policy and regulatory issues, demonstrate a commitment to safe, efficient and environmentally responsible practices. Segmented committees are broken down into the following sectors:
- Upstream Committee
- Downstream Committee
- Marine Committee
- Pipeline Committee
- General Membership Committee
Resource committees take on API’s administrative duties while overseeing both internal and external policy and relationships. Strategic committees, such as the Climate Change Steering Committee, pertain to specific issues and resolutions that affect the oil and gas industry.
Since the 1920s, the API Standards program has aimed to advance operational safety through improved technology, training, operational procedures, and best practices. Subcommittee membership and specialized task groups are typically made up by those with interests in specific business and safety measures under discussion. The overseeing API Standards committees include:
Executive Committee on Standardization of Oilfield Equipment and Materials (ECS) - provides leadership in the efficient development and maintenance of standards that minimize needs for individual company standards, promote broad availability of safe, interchangeable oilfield equipment and materials, and promote broad availability of proven engineering and operating practices.
Committee on Refinery Equipment (CRE) - promotes safe and proven engineering practices in the design, fabrication, installation, inspection, and use of materials and equipment in refineries and related processing facilities.
Pipeline Standards Committees - develops, revises, and approves consensus standards for the pipeline industry.
Safety and Fire Protection Committee (SFPS) - seeks to advance and improve the industry’s overall safety and occupational health performance by combining resources to identify and address important public, employee and company issues.
Committee on Petroleum Measurement (COPM) - provides leadership in developing and maintaining cost effective, state of the art, hydrocarbon measurement standards and programs based on sound technical principles consistent with current measurement technology, recognized business accounting and engineering practices, and industry consensus.
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