Oil companies are not stagnant entities. Every year, the industry experiences acquisitions, mergers, and systemic transformations. The dynamic nature of the energy sector requires environmental, health, and safety departments, as well as facility managers, to periodically review and adjust their approach to emergency management and regulatory compliance.
Whether a facility is located in the U.S. or abroad, ensuring compliance, employee safety, and an effective response requires a streamlined, coordinated, and exercised response plan. All response plans, including SPCC's and facility response plans, within the corporate enterprise should address site-specific facility details, applicable and tested response processes, and standardized company-wide best practices while maintaining location-specific regulatory compliance. A customizable response plan template can enable the development of a streamlined, site-specific preparedness program that consistently delivers company-standard guidelines and practices while providing a medium for rapid assimilation of merging or acquired facilities.
Industrial operations are required by law to institute site-specific emergency response plans, and train employees according to their response roles and pertinent response methods. Acquiring one or more new facilities typically presents challenges that generic or static response plan templates do not account for. Failure to incorporate site-specific details may result in incomplete, ineffective, and costly non-compliant plans. Companies with multi-facility operations should utilize a customizable template with the ability to inject distinct facility information and hazards for each operation, pre-approved company best practices, as well as applicable local, state, and federal requirements.
Integrating response plans under one centralized format enables consolidated preparedness and response objectives. Acquired facilities must be absorbed into the company-wide emergency management program. If response plans exist, companies should perform a gap analysis or audit to identify any procedural, company policy, or compliance deficiencies that may be applicable to the new facilities. It is critical to define preparedness objectives, response roles, and responsibilities in order to eliminate ambiguity and confusion. Responsible parties must apply new data, site assessments, and validated information into cohesive, compliant, and effective response plans for the new enterprise.
New or outlying facilities may present preparedness and response challenges. Cultural differences, infrastructure challenges, response equipment availability, minimal response knowledge and training, and security priorities may require heighten preparedness priorities and planning efforts. As a result, new locations may be particularly vulnerable to crisis or emergency response situations.
The following fundamental preparedness and response questions may assist companies in absorbing facilities into an established emergency management program. Determining site-specific information, possible mitigation efforts, and response capabilities can mobilize stakeholders to develop necessary and required response planning objectives. (Note: The questions below are meant to initialize conversations and should not be considered a thorough checklist for preparedness and response planning)
Who will be in charge of the response and how will it be organized?
- Identify Incident Commander
- Create Emergency Management Team organizational chart
- Identify Emergency Management Team activation measures
- Create Emergency Management Team roles and responsibilities checklists
Does the facility have a current response plan to draw from?
- Update necessary contact information and notifications
- Perform a gap analysis of the current plan(s) against new operations, equipment, company policies, industry best practices and applicable regulations
- Review agency approval and submittal processes and comply as necessary
What threats affect the new facility and its employees?
- Perform a detailed hazard and risk analysis
- Verify or create response procedures for each identified threat
- Identify process for incident documentation
- Utilize appropriate ICS Forms
- Identify current and necessary equipment necessary for response
What regulatory requirements apply to this facility?
- Evaluate operations for compliance
- Identify required training and confirm documentation
- Review submitted response plan information
- Perform a compliance audit
If necessary, what organization will conduct additional response duties?
- Identify response capabilities and determine if additional resources are necessary
- Initiate a Memorandum of Understanding or contract specific response needs
- Confirm contact information, availability, and response times
How will the emergency be reported and response initiated?
- Create site-specific notification procedures
- Identify site-specific alarms that signal employee evacuation or shelter in place.
- Test alarms to confirm they are in proper working condition
- Ensure employees are trained in alarm procedures and immediate response actions per designated roles and responsibilities
- Implement company approved emergency classification levels to associated response procedures with emergency conditions to prevent the incident from escalating
What incidents or classification level require evacuation/shelter in place
- Establish multiple evacuation routes.
- Does the evacuation go beyond facility borders?
- Identify the muster point(s) and head count procedures?
How are response actions sustained?
- Establish command post location
- Identify internal and external response resources and equipment for a sustained response
- Share response plan with appropriate responders/stakeholders