The more diligent a company can be in preparing its employees for a potential emergency, the more effective its response. Vendors at The Lakes at Havasu Mall recently underwent “Active Shooter Response Training” to learn survival tips in the event of a violent assault at the facility. In the event of an emergent and unfamiliar incident, the most effective reactions come in the form of a trained response. Competency in emergency response procedures is necessary in order to avoid the onset of panic in a crisis situation, and to minimize impacts.
Despite the type of operation, all employees should be trained in response measures appropriate for specifically identified risks. However, an industrial setting poses unique hazards and potential threats, unlike those in other fields. Specialized training must address these site-specific, potentially hazardous issues, and complement response team roles and responsibilities.
However, despite an industrial setting, not all employees will be assigned to a formal response team. Efforts must be made to train non-response team members in initial response actions and the appropriate initiation procedures. Personnel, upon discovering a significant event or condition that requires urgent response from outside trained personnel, should take the suggested initial response actions listed below:
Initial Response Actions:
- Warn others in the immediate area by word of mouth and/or activate local alarms.
- Take immediate personal protective measures (PPE, move to safe location, etc.).
- Report the emergency to Security or 9-1-1, depending on company policy.
- Implement local response actions (process shutdowns, activate fire protection systems, etc.) if safe to do so, and consistent with level of training and area specific procedures.
The purpose of the initial responder at the operations level is to protect life, property, or the environment from the effects of the release, not stop the release. According to OSHA, first responders at the operational level are those individuals who initially respond to hazardous substances releases. Employees, who may be exposed to hazardous substances, including hazardous waste, are required to be Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) certified.
- Cleanup operations, required by a governmental body, whether federal, state, local, or other involving hazardous substances that are conducted at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
- Emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard.
- Corrective actions involving clean-up operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) as amended (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.).
- Voluntary cleanup operations at sites recognized by federal, state, local, or other governmental body as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
- Operations involving hazardous wastes that are conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal facilities regulated by Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 264 and 265 pursuant to RCRA, or by agencies under agreement with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement RCRA regulations.
Initial responders are trained to respond in a defensive fashion without actually trying to terminate the release. Their function is to contain the release from a safe distance, keep it from spreading, and prevent exposures. Properly trained emergency response personnel should then continue the response effort. Events that may require outside emergency assistance may include, but are not limited to:
- An uncontrolled release of a hazardous material
- Serious injury or illness
- Potential risk of exposure to blood borne pathogens
For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for Effective Exercises.