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Global EHS Response Planning, Preparedness, and Challenges

Posted on Thu, Aug 22, 2013

As companies expand operations and become more global, applicable location-specific threats and risks must be identified and incorporated into preparedness measures. Enterprise expansion requires environmental, health, and safety (EHS) managers and corporate regulatory teams to sharpen their global understanding of regulations, security needs, and associated components of emergency response plans and strategies specific to location of operations.

Whether a facility is domestically located or abroad, ensuring compliance and employee safety requires a streamlined, coordinated, and exercised response plan. All response plans within the corporate enterprise should address site-specific facility details, appropriate response processes, standardized company-wide best practices, and should maintain compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.

A poorly managed and inadequate response, whether an emergency on non-emergency incident, can negatively affect a company’s reputation, business interests, and relationship with key regulators, partners, and local entities. However, global branches outside headquarters’ domain may present additional preparedness and response challenges. Cultural differences, infrastructure challenges, or security priorities may heighten preparedness priorities and planning efforts. As a result, a multinational company may be particularly vulnerable to crisis or emergency response situations.

High-level crisis management responses may stem from either emergency or non-emergency situations. While necessary emergency responses likely affect the safety and health of employees and/or the facility infrastructure, non-emergency situations can arise that potentially impact company reputation and operational longevity. Response plans should be developed for each potential emergency or non-emergency scenario that could cause significant damage to local operations or company-wide. Crisis management or emergency response planning may incorporate, but is not limited to the following:

Environmental Stewardship: Disparity in international, country, state, county and corporate environmental standards.  Environmental regulations may vary regarding:

  • Facility or site requirements
  • Transportation
  • Hazardous spills
  • Equipment safety
  • Fire-fighting method
  • Gas releases

Natural Disasters: Each geographic location is saddled with specific potential natural threats.

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes/Typhoons,
  • Sand/wind storms
  • Tornados
  • Flooding
  • Tsunami

Employee issues: While every facility must prepare for potential employee issues, global companies must pay specific attention to the following:

  • Cultural differences
  • Language barriers
  • Labor relations challenges
  • Workplace discrimination or harassment
  • Disgruntled workers
  • Health and safety disparagements
Marketing: Global markets and unethical business practices can create non-emergency scenarios resulting in the need for crisis management:
  • Price gouging
  • Supply availability
  • Recalls
  • Deceptive business practices

Security Breach: A security breach can affect multiple aspects of a company, from business continuity to the physical safety of employees.

  • Computer hacking
  • Catastrophic IT failure
  • Facility security measures
  • Civil unrest
  • Personnel/employee security

Corporate Governance: Corporate changes can initiate unrest, disrupt operations, and company reputation:

  • Mergers
  • Organizational restructuring
  • Downsizing
  • Facility closings
  • Management successions/promotions
  • Financial reporting integrity

Industry/Sector Issues: As industry specific equipment, regulatory advancements, and technologies evolve, preparedness should continually adapt to include safety processes, continuity procedures and best practices.

  • Supply disruptions
  • Punitive regulations
  • Equipment advancements

Illegal Activity: Faults in humanity may be intensified by location specific conditions, supply and demand, and/or greed. Preparedness measures should include business continuity and crisis management procedure for the following circumstances:

  • Extortion
  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Malfeasance
  • Criminal Investigation

Political/Social issues: As companies strive to be profitable, political and social issues can interfere with daily operations. Situations that may affect productivity include, but are not limited to:

  • Human rights
  • Terrorism
  • War
  • Political or social unrest
  • Economic disparity
  • Discrimination

Though preparedness, companies can minimize the effects of costly crisis and emergency situations. Timely resolutions with limited impact to the facility, employees, the environment, reputation and the financial bottom line will allow companies to better position themselves for prosperity and longevity. Additionally, strategic preparedness and a response focus across global entities can propel international EHS best practices and bolster worldwide economic stability.

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TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Social Unrest, Crisis Management, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Security plans, Political Instability, Media and Public Relations, Workplace Safety