Every day across the United States, employees go to work expecting a typical day on the job. Yet OSHA’s Reports of Fatalities and Incidents for Fiscal Year 2016 reveals that one or more work-related fatalities and incidents occurs daily. While some jobs are more hazardous than others, the detailed summary indicated 1,080 OSHA reported instances in 2016. How many more incidents go unreported? Not only do emergencies and incidents happen, they happen every day - highlighting the importance of preparedness and response planning.
"It Won’t Happen Here"
When incidents occur, urgent and rapid decision making combined with a lack of resources and untrained personnel can lead to chaos and exacerbate the emergency. Response plans can minimize the chaos with pre-identified processes. To establish effective response plans capable of protecting employees and building occupants, companies should conduct analyses to identify necessary site-specific safety measures, including those required for regulatory compliance. Analyses should identify the following details:
- Site Analysis
- Identify existing and potential site hazards through employee feedback, audits, and detailed inspections.
- Task Analysis
- Determine job specific methods and procedures for each employee’s duty to reduce or eliminate associated hazards.
- Review and update methods and procedure when an incident occurs, job responsibilities change, or if hazards are identified through analysis.
- Risk Analysis
- Establish risk evaluation criteria, probability of incident, and potential consequences.
- Monitor and review procedures for continuous improvement, effectiveness, control measures and changed conditions.
Besides the major benefit of providing guidance during an emergency, the preparedness process and analyses have other advantages. You may discover:
- Unrecognized hazardous conditions that would aggravate an emergency situation
- Deficiencies, such as the lack of resources (equipment, trained personnel, supplies)
- Mitigation opportunities that can rectified incidents before an emergency occurs.
The Response Plan
Comprehensive, compliant, and functional response plans should be created to address a broad scope of planned responses for a variety of probable emergency and crisis situations. However, if a facility has a high-risk potential for a specific scenario, supplemental response plans can be added to the overall emergency management program. Inclusive programs may include a variety of plans including Facility Response Plans, Fire Pre-Plans, and Incident Response Plans, etc. Response plans should include the following minimum information:
- Building description
- Plot plan(s) and floor plan(s)
- Owner/Manager contact information
- Emergency equipment inventory and locations
- Evacuation routes
- Emergency Assembly Point details
- Internal and/or external emergency personnel information and contact details
- Specific hazard details and possible safety data sheet information, if applicable
- Utility shut-off locations and descriptions
- Alarm(s) description
- Policies and processes situational checklists
- Job specific procedures
A Plan for Every Site
An enterprise-wide response planning system can provide the framework required to ensure every facility under the corporate umbrella is compliant and prepared for the unexpected. An enterprise-wide system can remove many of the challenges associated with managing multiple response plans, streamline the update process, and simplify plan reviews, ensuring a consistent path toward compliance and readiness.
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 locations, sites, geographies, 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 optimizes response planning training and exercise activities
- Reduce non-compliance issues on a company-wide scale
- Automate regulatory governance with electronic submissions
Don’t be a Statistic
With the revelation of the OSHA statistics, companies should ensure safety and preparedness is at the forefront of operations. Whether a company has one site or multiple facilities across the globe, response plans promote safety awareness and may help minimize the chance that of one of you employees becomes an OSHA statistic.