Whether your facility is an office building or a chemical plant, every employee should be trained in basic emergency responses in order to minimize personal risk and exposure to hazardous situations. The better a company can prepare its employees for emergency situations, the more effective and timely the response. However, facilities that empower employees to command and lead response team missions have the unique responsibility to ensure advanced training and appropriate safety measures are understood.
Individual supervisory responsibilities are as unique as the site, specific response expectations, and particular role. However, general supervisory responsibilities may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Initiate initial response actions if first person on-scene
- Request medical assistance, if necessary
- Verify substance released and obtain Safety Data Sheets (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets), as necessary
- Communicate response actions to assigned specialized team members
- Identify and evaluate safety and health hazards that may impact the response workers, employees, and the public
- Identify and isolate source to minimize product loss and potential harm
- Restrict access to the incident scene and surrounding area as the situation demands and designate exclusion zone boundaries
- Determine levels of personal protective equipment required
- Identify key government representatives from each agency, if applicable
- Maintain Records and Individual Logs
- Coordinate further response actions with Incident Commander and local responders
- Re-evaluate situation as response unfold to determine if adjustment are necessary
Priorities of response team leaders should include, but are not limited to the following:
Early evaluation and continual incident updates: With early evaluation, communication, and continual progress assessments, team leaders can utilize current conditions to establish the necessary responses to counteract the circumstances. The consideration of responder safety should be incorporated into every evaluation and response measure.
Effective communications: The ability to receive and transmit information, maintain situational awareness, and communicate with all components within the incident organization is essential to ensure effective supervision, directives, and response controls.
Strategic decisions: The response team’s risk level may be driven by the extent of the incident and response strategy.
Offensive strategies places members in interior positions where they are likely to have direct contact with the incident or hazard. While an offensive strategy may result in a more timely response, team leaders must ensure the team’s training level coincides with this type of approach.
Defensive strategies remove members from interior positions and high-risk activities. The defensive approach may minimize incident escalations until properly trained responders arrive at the scene. In conjunction with the response plan, the Incident Commander may assign basic positioning and functions of the internal and external responders and allocate necessary response resources.
The number of employees on a Facility Response Team will depend on site and operational hazards, the number of on-site employees, training budgets, and the likelihood of a hazardous incident. To ensure employees and identified essential response personnel are prepared to respond to an incident in an efficient and effective manner, minimum training and exercise guidelines should be established as minimum requirements within an emergency management program.
Management should ensure that:
- All facility response team members are trained in accordance to their designated responsibilities
- All aspects of response plans are exercised individually at least once per year with the appropriate response, incident management, and support teams taking part.
- Separate functions or components within response plans should be exercised at more frequent intervals, as appropriate, in preparation for the main annual exercise.
- Notification exercises for each team and response components (both internal and external) should be verified and practiced at least twice per year. This exercise should involve unannounced checks of the communication processes, equipment, and systems.
- National and local training and exercise requirements should be used to assess the overall integrated preparedness of a response with the authorities.