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Expert Insight: Managing Multiple Response Plans

Posted on Thu, Apr 10, 2014

Emergency managers are increasingly asked to “do more with less”. Reduced staffing levels and heightened personnel responsibilities due to budget constraints create enterprise-wide challenges for environment, health and safety professionals. The mandate of managing and maintaining multiple emergency response plans and ensuring regulatory compliance and site specific accuracy can be a continual uphill battle. An enterprise-wide response planning system can remove the uncertainties and challenges associated with managing multiple response plans, streamline the update process, and simplify plan reviews, ensuring a consistent path toward compliance.

An enterprise-wide response plan system can address regulatory compliance and consistency in company-wide planning standards. For companies with numerous facilities, advanced systems offer advantageous response plan management opportunities while improving the overall planning system framework and the accuracy of site-specific emergency response plans.

Defining planning objectives, budget limits, and information technology (IT) system criteria will assist in determining which enterprise-wide planning system aligns with company requirements. Below are key questions that may help determine if an enterprise-wide planning system is right for your company:

  1. Do you have more than one facility that is governed by regulatory requirements?
  2. Are your facilities required to comply with multiple agency requirements?
  3. Is there repetitive information in multiple plans at multiple facilities?
  4. Does your employee turnover rate create inaccuracies in your response plan?
  5. How effectively do you handle contact information updates and verification? How often does this occur?
  6. How often do you print updated plan copies for distribution, and what costs are involved?
  7. Do you have multiple versions of plans, leading to “version confusion”?
  8. Are your existing plans user-friendly or cumbersome?
  9. Do your personnel need better access to your existing plans?
  10. Do local responders have access to your most up-to-date emergency response plan?
  11. Are your plans updated quarterly or annually, and how do you integrate new regulatory requirements?
  12. Have you recently gone through a merger or acquisition?
  13. How much time is dedicated to maintaining, updating, and distributing your plans?
  14. How often are you audited and would you be ready if an auditor appeared tomorrow?
  15. Do audits result in fines or violations?
  16. Can you use your existing plan to expedite training?
  17. Do you have an accurate record of changes and revisions?
  18. Are you able to comply with frequently evolving regulatory requirements across your various facilities?

Corporate-level managers may have substantial input regarding long-term environmental, health and safety goals and associated budgeting. However, EHS personnel and those who manage site-specific response plans often determine the success or failure of the program and are responsible for regulatory compliance.  A company-wide response planning system should ease the day-to-day challenges associated with managing and maintaining multiple response plans and site-specific regulatory audits, yet seamlessly integrate and interface with established company policies and cultures.

In addition to simplifying the administrative duties of managing multiple response plans, an enterprise-wide response planning system should:

  • Support the ability to execute company approved response strategies across multiple locations/facilities
  • Easily incorporate company growth and facility acquisitions
  • Enable site-specific details while not compromising company directives
  • Facilitate the ability to update corporate planning elements across multiple locations, without compromising site-specific details and response challenges
  • Be easily updated with minimal dedicated staff
  • Become an easily accessible, yet secured, shared tool for internal and external responders
  • Allow for streamlined regulatory compliance audits
  • Automate and optimize response planning training and exercise activities
  • Reduce non-compliance issues on a company-wide scale
  • Automate regulatory governance with electronic submissions

An enterprise-wide response planning system enables EHS departments to spend more time on preparedness planning and maximizing response efforts versus plan maintenance, documentation, compliance, and reporting. The result is a more streamlined company emergency management program that reduces administrative efforts, non-compliance fines, and ineffective responses.

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Tags: Choosing a Consultant, Facility Response Plan, Response Plans, Emergency Management Program, Emergency Response Planning