The challenge of managing and ensuring compliant response plans for multiple facilities and multiple regulatory agencies is daunting. When audits reveal planning gaps, unless amended, enforcement mandates and costly non-compliance fines may result from the lack of an implemented, thorough, or effective regulatory compliance programs. By utilizing an enterprise-wide template approach to response plans, companies can satisfy multiple regulatory requirements through a cohesive, yet site-specific standardization of best practices.
In order for emergency plans to be timely, effective, and compliant, site-specific facility information and operational hazards must be addressed and included in a template plan. Off-the-shelf, generic response plan templates will not address every aspect required of an emergency plan. Utilizing generic templates often results in incomplete, ineffective, and non-regulatory compliant plans.
If templates are connected to a web-based database, site-specific information can be cross-referenced with regulatory requirements. As facilities are added or modified, operations are revised, or employees are re-assigned, each plan can be conveniently accessed and updated for accuracy and compliance.
The use of a consolidated emergency, or all-hazards response plan can be adapted to comply with multiple regulations. Annexed plans, such as fire pre plans or business continuity plans can be created to provide more specific and comprehensive response procedures. With a comprehensive, web-based response plan template, emergency managers can:
- Reduce the need for multiple plans for a single facility
- Minimize administrative costs
- Simplify plan reviews
- Minimize discrepancies across various plans
- Streamline response directives from one source
- More easily identify regulatory compliance gaps
The planning template must incorporate all local, state and federal regulations. The following questions may assist companies in determining site-specific information requirements for developing an emergency plan template.
1. How will the emergency be reported and response initiated?
- Create notification procedures. Emergency notifications may include 911, National Response Center, and internal and/or external response teams
- Identify alarms and how they will be activated. Specific alarm signals may signal employee evacuation or shelter in place. Test alarms to confirm they are in proper working condition
- Ensure employees are trained in immediate response actions, as described in plan
- Identify emergency classification levels to ensure appropriate response actions and resources
2. Who will be in charge of the Incident and who will conduct additional response duties?
- Create Emergency Management Team organizational chart and activation procedures
- Create Emergency Management Team roles and responsibilities checklists
3. What threats affect the facility or employees?
- Perform a detailed hazard and risk analysis
- Create response procedures for each identified threat
- Create a process for incident documentation
- Utilize appropriate ICS Form(s)
- Create multiple evacuation routes
- Determine criteria as to whether evacuation goes beyond facility borders
- Identify the muster point(s) and head count procedures
5. How are response actions sustained?
- Identify command post locations and equipment requirements
- Identify response resources and equipment (both internal and external)
- Create communications checklist and identify communications equipment available
- Identify hazard control applicability and methods
- Detail external communications and public relations policies
6. What is done after the incident is secured?
- Create checklist for demobilization guidelines
- Perform a post-incident review and debriefing
- Identify “lessons learned”, assign action items, and update response plan accordingly
In 1996, the National Response Team published the Integrated Contingency Plan (ICP) Guidance in an effort to provide companies with the means to comply with multiple federal planning requirements required by various regulatory agencies. The ICP, based on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS), was intended to be used by companies to prepare emergency response plans for responding to releases of oil and non-radiological hazardous substances.
An industrial facility may use an ICP to incorporate one or more of the following applicable federal regulations:
- Oil Pollution Prevention Regulation (SPCC and Facility Response Plan Requirements), 40 CFR part 112.7(d) and 112.20-.21
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Contingency Planning Requirements, 40 CFR part 264, Subpart D, 40 CFR part 265, Subpart D, and 40 CFR 279.52.
- Risk Management Programs Regulation, 40 CFR part 68
Department of the Interior:
- Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Facility Response Plan Regulation, 30 CFR part 254
Department of Transportation/Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:
- PHMSA Pipeline Response Plan Regulation, 49 CFR part194
- U.S. Coast Guard, Facility Response Plan Regulation, 33 CFR part 154, part F
Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Emergency Action Plan Regulation, 29 CFR 1910.38(a)
- OSHA's Process Safety Standard, 29 CFR 1910.119
- OSHA's HAZWOPER Regulation, 29 CFR 1910.120
Facilities may also be subject to state emergency response planning requirements that are not included in the National Response Team ICP Guidance. Facilities are encouraged to coordinate development of their own ICP with relevant state and local agencies to ensure compliance with any additional regulatory requirements.