While it is more cost efficient and less complicated to learn from other's response experiences and emergency management mistakes, every emergency scenario, exercise, or training endeavor can be used to improve the outcome of the next response. As we begin 2015, facility and emergency managers should draw from personal experiences, staff knowledge, and industry-wide lessons learned to improve their preparedness and response program.
The following discussion points, while not all-inclusive, can be used to spur emergency management program improvements and response planning reformations for 2015:
- What agencies and new or impending regulations apply to my location(s)?
- Have budgets been allocated for necessary compliance mitigation resolutions?
- If applicable, have Globally Harmonized System (GHS) Safety Data Sheets (SDS) been updated and have their properties been included in the planning process?
- Has an inspection taken place, and if so, have non-compliant issues been mitigated?
- Will an internal compliance audit(s) be conducted?
- Is personnel training up-to-date and compliant with site-specific requirements?
- Are required exercises scheduled?
- What are the new high-risk, medium-risk, and low risk-activities or circumstances, and are how will these scenarios relate to planning?
- Can high-risk tasks or conditions be mitigated with the current budget? (The higher the probability and severity of risk, the higher the emphasis should be on corrective actions)
- Are there additional environmentally sensitive areas that need to be addressed in the response plan?
- Does the risk assessment utilize realistic scenarios to define potential spill volumes and downstream locations?
- How will employees be made aware of hazards associated with specific workplace process, materials, or location(s)?
- When will response equipment needs be re-evaluated and defined?
- Are there new technologies or equipment that will better suit your program's equipment needs?
- Will current vendors have predefined supplies or equipment available in the event of an operational disruption or emergency scenario, or do new suppliers need to be evaluated?
- Are processes in place to monitor internal and external supply chains and their response time?
- Is additional or alternate external spill response support necessary and available?
- How would a spill affect both internal and external resources?
- Are back up suppliers identified, and when will their availability be confirmed?
- Are current personnel appropriately trained for their allocated roles?
- Are new employees being trained effectively?
- Do new training measures need to be implemented?
- Will training comprehension be tested with realistic exercise scenarios?
- Is the response management team structure clear and able to be communicated?
- Will external responders included in plan preparations and exercises receive a copy of the current plan?
- Have post exercise review mitigation measures been applied to current training and preparedness measures? If not, when will these tasks be completed?
- Should training include any new resource tracking documentation methods, software, or amended response communication actions?
- If an incident were to occur today, would your response plan minimize impacts and be a guide for an effective and coordinated response effort?
- Is a process established for individual responders to verify their contact information to allow for timely responses? If not, can verification process improvements be made to ensure accuracy?
- Are clear initial response action procedures in place to notify, assess, and initiate a response?
- Can approved stakeholders easily access response plans? Have you researched innovative technology that allows for improved plan access?
- Have response times and limitations been confirmed? Have they changed from the previous plan revision?
- Does the current response plan address necessary updates, such as site construction, personnel changes, and supply chain changes?
- Have internal and external communication methods been upgraded? If so, have these changes been addressed in the plan.
- Are new or additional communications backup systems available and described in the plan?
- Are there new staff roles, personnel, or modified internal or external responsibilities that need to be specified in the plan, and communicated to responders?
- Are there alternate strategies and response procedures that need to be included in the plan?
- Are updated processes and procedures identified in the plans to assess and monitor size, shape, type, location, and movement of a spill or release?
- If applicable, have tactical response details been included in the planning process for incidents that expand beyond the confines of the facility? Are there any changes that need to be incorporated?
- Do trajectory maps and estimates mimic local observations and historical tendencies?
- Are sensitive sites prioritized for protection?
- Do plans include specific criteria for provisional tiered responses?
- Are waste management and demobilization processes communicated?
- Are sufficient processes established for updating planning information prior to an emergency and during a response?
- Have plot plans and area mapping been integrated with the latest GIS data and knowledge?
- Are appropriate agreement documentation, such as contracts and memorandums of understanding (MOUs), updated and in place? Are there new MOUs or contracts that need to be established or finalized?
- Do stakeholders have a copy of your most up-to-date plans?
- Are training and exercise records, and applicable regulatory required documentation up-to-date and accessible to auditors?
- Are necessary Incident Command (ICS) and company-specific forms readily available for documentation?
By analyzing the past, monitoring the present, and evaluating the “potentials” of 2015, companies can reinforce their commitment to emergency management while establishing a culture of preparedness. Executing plan enhancements and reinforcing preparedness across an enterprise strengthens a company’s resolve, ultimately creating a more resilient organization.
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