There are many possible hazards associated with manufacturing plant operations. Heavy machinery, various corrosive and combustible chemicals, and possible confined spaces are just a few of the potential safety issues associated with production or manufacturing facilities. When incidents or emergencies occur, improvising and implementing unplanned response actions is often inadequate, potentially life-threatening for employees, and typically damaging to a company’s reputation.
Preparing for every possible known and unknown site-specific contingency may be unrealistic. However, every effort should be made to include processes and procedures for the most likely and applicable emergency scenarios relevant to your facility. By analyzing potential hazards, reducing risks, and investing in mitigation and preparedness, companies with manufacturing operations can secure the foundation for long-term risk management, sustainability and social responsibility.
Insufficient EHS budgeting often results in overwhelmed personnel responsible for developing new emergency response plans, or even updating existing ones. However, without proactive mitigation and inclusive response planning efforts, reactionary costs often outpace the expenditures associated with effective emergency management programs. Factors such as regulatory compliance, high-risk locations, shifting labor markets, and emerging competitors can increase the complexity and cost of overall operations. However, these external factors should not deflect attention from crucial response planning efforts.
The potential for additional costs related to fines, emergencies, crises, and business continuity issues is prevalent when preparedness measures are neglected. Incident recovery costs often include, but are not limited to:
- Impacts on employees
- Short term or long term business interruption
- Regulatory fines or mandated shutdown for non-compliance
- Infrastructure damage
- Equipment failure
- Inventory/stock losses
- Environmental damage
Each manufacturing site must analyze their potential hazards and applicable responses. The analysis should identify and evaluate low, medium, and high impact likely scenarios, associated response expenditures, and total estimated recovery costs. Every section of the response plans needs to serve a specific purpose and meet explicit site-specific planning objectives. Below is a list of planning objectives that may be relevant to your facility:
- Establish site specific emergency response procedures for scenarios including:
- Medical emergencies
- Chemical releases
- Severe weather
- Security issues
- Confined space rescue, if applicable
- Establish mitigation procedures and protective actions, such as evacuation or shelter-in-place, to safeguard the health and safety of on-site non-emergency personnel and nearby communities.
- Design an incident management team organization and assign personnel to fill primary and alternate roles.
- Ensure incident management team personnel receive applicable training for their roles.
- Define notification and response team activation procedures.
- Establish response communication procedures and identify necessary communication equipment.
- Identify internal and external resources necessary to ensure availability of applicable responders and equipment.
- Identify primary and alternate Emergency Operations Center location.
- Maintain compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal requirements for emergency response plans, training and exercise requirements, and hazardous materials, if applicable.
- Integrate industry-specific best practices, as well as lessons learned from past training, exercises, and actual emergencies.
Violating government regulations and disregarding employees’ safety can tarnish a company’s reputation, impact shareholders’ worth, and alter customer relations. As a result, manufacturing plants may require multiple plan types to account for varying regulatory and operational factors. These plan types may include, but are not limited to:
- Emergency Response Plans
- Business Continuity Plans
- Crisis Management Plans
- Spill Prevention Plans (SPCCs)
- Fire Pre-Plans
- Emergency Action Plans
- Severe Weather or Hurricane Plans
- Pandemic Plans