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Renovating the Framework of Emergency Management and Incident Response

Posted on Tue, Aug 26, 2014

The modernization of communication technologies has trickled down to the frameworks of emergency management. On July 29, 2014, the 'White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day” brought together the disaster response community and innovative entrepreneurs from across the country in the hopes of integrating technological advances with preparedness and disaster response efforts.

As the connectivity of the world increases, EHS programs and emergency managers are embracing collaborative and innovative preparedness and response initiatives. However, in order to germinate or sustain an ongoing culture of preparedness, companies must prioritize funding to incorporate new and relevant systems, training, and/or equipment. Unless mandated by regulatory authorities, many companies delay best practice and technological initiatives until an incident propels response planning to the forefront.

According to the Disaster Recovery Planning Benchmark Survey: 2014 Annual Report, “more than 60% of those who took the survey do not have a fully documented disaster recovery (DR) plan and another 40% admitted that the DR plan they currently have did not prove very useful when it was called on to respond to their worst disaster recovery event or scenario.

As the “Y” or the “Millennial” generation” (those born between 1980’s and 2000) continues to enter the workforce, emerging technologies will become more ingrained into society and the workplace. These educated and tech savvy individuals accustomed to fast-paced technological advancements consider technology as an essential aspect in their lives. Based on current trends, upcoming generations will be acclimated to instantaneous communication and data extraction from any location. Text, social media, and web-based technologies will be expected as commonplace emergency management frameworks, rather than the traditional means that most companies still utilize today. In order to integrate societal norms and stay relevant with upcoming generations of employees, emergency management and disaster response framework must be aligned with currently available utilized tools.

Statistics suggest that every dollar invested in disaster preparedness yields savings of $4–$11 in disaster response, relief, and recovery.” The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Just as computers replaced typewriters to expand productivity, web-based response systems are replacing one-dimensional paper-based plans. Web-based response systems offer a greater streamlined functionality, renovated efficiency, and varied accessibility when compared with traditional paper-based plans.  Web-based planning system software offers every option of instant accessibility: viewed via the Internet from any location, downloaded, or printed. Increasing accessibility options while improving efficiency, functionality, and effectiveness can bolster an entire emergency management program.

In order for new functionalities to be introduced to the workplace, emergency managers often are required to justify the initial investment. A cost-benefit analysis of a renovated emergency management program can highlight the potential cost savings of an effective program. Any prevention, mitigation, or plan maintenance costs should be compared with the financial impact of situational recovery processes and the overall costs of an incident. These costs may include, but are not limited to:

  • Human life
  • Short term or long term business interruption
  • Lawsuit(s)
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Equipment failure
  • Inventory/stock losses
  • Fines
  • Reputation
  • Environmental destruction

The relevance of innovative techniques and lessons learned should be continually evaluated and incorporated into an emergency preparedness program if appropriate.  While often suppressed in favor of short-term profits, budgets for pertinent emergency management initiatives should be prioritized for long-term corporate sustainability. But “change for change’s sake” does not typically enhance programs. The evolution process of an emergency management program should aim to perpetuate improved responses and operational recovery times, and enhance company viability despite crisis scenarios.

For a free download on essential preparedness measures, click here or on the image below.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Tactical Response Planning, Emergency Management, Resiliency, Incident Management, Emergency Management Program, Communication Plan, Social Media

Expert Insight on Emergency Response Tabletop Exercises and Scenarios

Posted on Fri, Jun 20, 2014

Emergency response training simulations are an integral part of a sound emergency management program. Exercises offer training opportunities for responders to strengthen their capacity for responding to various site-specific emergencies. By facilitating different types of drills and exercises, facilities can identify the appropriate methods for preventing, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from crises.

Real world exercise scenarios can often highlight potential deficiencies in response plans, individual comprehension of response roles and responsibilities, and partnership coordination efforts. Deficiencies often reveal mitigation opportunities and valuable response knowledge that can be applied to response plans and an actual emergency response situations.

There are various types of emergency drills and exercises for response training and planning validation. Companies can test response plans with simple orientations and drills, and work their way toward full-scale exercises, inclusive of multiple components and coordinated efforts.

A tabletop exercise is one of the simplest type of comprehensive exercises to conduct in terms of planning, preparation, and coordination. It should facilitate analyses of an emergency situation and the most effective processes to respond and recover. The informal, stress-free environment should be designed to prompt constructive discussions about existing emergency response plans as participants identify, investigate and resolve issues. The success of the exercise is mainly determined by the identification of problem areas, and applying applicable corrections.

These exercises should replicate realistic and site-specific emergency scenarios that allow participants to increase their awareness of roles and responsibilities required to respond, stabilize, terminate, and recover from emergencies. In preparation for these exercises, companies should develop exercise planning documents, including participant's and controller’s packages that contain exercise objectives, scenarios, ground rules, and simulation scripts. These guidelines, at a minimum, should be provided to all participants prior to the exercise to allow for a thorough examination of exercise expectations. A training and exercise management system can streamline and simplify the documentation and administrative duties associated with exercises planning.

The goal of a tabletop exercise program should be to improve the overall readiness and capabilities of emergency response program that encourages:

  • Realistic scenarios
  • Proper training validation
  • Effective emergency plans
  • Action item identification
  • Operational response capabilities
  • Personnel preparedness to respond to incidents, regardless of the threat or hazard

The Department of Homeland Security addresses four types of exercise scenarios used in risk management and emergency planning:

1. Basic Scenario:  Provides basic information about one specific variable or risk, such as internal or external hazard, attack type, or potential target. Scenarios can be used to establish response parameters and instructions based on a singular applicable variable (Ex: tank 101 fire or leak at a loading dock).

2. Narrative Scenario: Story-like, highly detailed scenarios with many fixed factors. Narrative drills are typically used for planning purposes rather than risk analysis. Narratives identify characteristics of a scenario, detailed background information, and each components of the scenario.

3. Visual Modeling:  Highly structured scenarios that display multiple potential variables of an emergency situation. Depending on the level of detail, visual models can become highly comprehensive and complex. The Department of Homeland Security identifies three methods of visual planning: attack paths, fault trees and event trees.

Attack paths: A systematic method that examines the sequence of events that occurred prior to the incident.

Fault trees: A detailed, deductive tool is used to assess the ill-fated sequence of events that led to the incident. A fault tree highlights potential hazards and ineffective processes.

Event trees: Assess the components it takes to respond and recover from an incident. Event trees highlight the necessary planning initiatives required to counteract the incident.

4. Future Scenario: Speculative narratives that consider how trends, such as social media usage or global warming, will impact future risks. This scenario can to identify “future-state” planning strategies against a range of alternative risk possibilities.

For a free download entitled, "Tips on How to Conduct an Effective Exercise", click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

 

Tags: Tabletop Exercise, OSHA, Emergency Management, Response Plans, Training and Exercises, Emergency Management Program

Tips to Ensure Regulatory Compliance at New Site Locations

Posted on Mon, May 19, 2014

Enterprise expansion requires environmental, health, and safety (EHS) managers to sharpen their location-based understanding of regulations, security needs, and associated response plan components specific to each location. As part of a company’s asset management program, experienced personnel should review response plan data , safety and response audits, response plan validation, and regulatory compliance evaluations.

Corporate changes can initiate tensions and reveal undiscovered company perceptions. Regulatory compliance should coincide with each of the following corporate events:

  • Merger or acquisition
  • Organizational restructuring and expansion
  • Downsizing creating operational changes at other facilities
  • Facility closings
  • Management successions/promotions

Regulation evaluations are particularly important when a facility is added in a new location. Whether the new facility is built from the ground up or acquired through a merger or acquisition, ensuring regulatory compliance and employee safety requires a committed emergency management staff and an established, fundamental preparedness program with streamlined, coordinated, and exercised response plans. All  response plans should incorporate site-specific facility details, appropriate response processes, and standardized company-wide best practices, while maintaining compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.

When a new facility is added to a corporate enterprise, is important to build and maintain a credible relationship with regulators. This teamwork-based philosophy may foster relationships, community acceptance, a favorable reputation, and the potential for collaborative interoperability among the response groups. The mergers/acquisition team or newly assigned facility EHS manager/staff should closely examine and implement:

  • Regulations and guidelines
  • Emerging best practices
  • Company policies
  • Location-specific, external coordination
  • Electronic publishing and compilation practices
  • Necessary site and facility inspections
  • Employee training
  • Local industrial partnerships

Open communications with internal and external responders will ensure plan and response procedures are current, and carried out in accordance with company protocols and federal, state, and local regulations. Groups to consider in planning reviews include, but are not limited to:

  • Local responders (fire, police, emergency medical services, etc.)
  • Government agencies (LEPC, Emergency Management Offices, etc)
  • Community organizations (Red Cross, weather services, etc)
  • Utility companies (Gas, Electric, Public Works, Telephone, etc.)
  • Contracted Emergency Responders
  • Neighboring Businesses
  • Consultants/Contractors

Company growth emphasizes the need for systematic enterprise coordination, especially in the area of emergency management. A dedicated regulatory intelligence team or the EHS manager may be responsible for the daunting task of sifting through the mountains of location specific, yet divergent, regulations, mandates, and guidelines. Those responsible must remain attentive to ensure emergency plans are up-to-date and compliant in order to eliminate potential fines or operational shutdown. If company experts are not available, local compliance expertise should be outsourced in order to leverage site-specific knowledge and impart applicable requirements that should be included in emergency plans.

Ensuring location specific compliance and effective emergency response planning, regardless of location, requires a streamlined, coordinated response plan. A compliant response plan should:

  • Provide strategic regulatory guidance for operational safety and incident response
  • Establish an efficient planning archive for audits and reviews that corresponds with compliance updates
  • Provide high-quality, complete user/reviewer-friendly documents that are able to be electronically transmissible and reproducible
  • Identify hazardous product information and applicable effective responses
  • Ensure functional units comply with regulatory requirements and common regulatory practices

With extensive information potentially crossing multiple regulatory agencies, emergency plans must become more interactive and transparent.  An enterprise web-based emergency management system can unify content and cross-reference regulatory requirements while enabling secured access to approved stakeholders. New site locations under a company umbrella should address site-specific facility details, appropriate response processes, standardized company-wide best practices, and maintain location-associated regulatory compliance.  

Planning and regulatory compliance is not a theoretical process that occurs without an understanding of site-specific operations and local hazards. Companies should not try to apply generalized scripting processes that assign hazard and response actions with unjustified precision. Site-specific plans should provide a fact-based starting point for emergency operations and regulatory compliance.

Challenged with managing preparedness amongst your various facilites? Download TRP's best practices guide on response planning for large organizations with multi-facility operations.

Multiple Facility Response Planning Company Preparedness Guide DOWNLOAD

Tags: Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Regulatory Compliance, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Emergency Response Planning

Fire Pre Plan Templates: How to Make them Work for You!

Posted on Thu, May 15, 2014

From industrial facilities to multi-story office buildings, creating site-specific fire pre-plans and sharing them with first responders prior to an actual emergency is critical to the safety of employees and responders. But for companies with numerous locations, establishing customized, company-wide response plan templates can ensure a cohesive, yet site-specific standardization of best practices.

Off the shelf, generic plan templates will not address every site-specific aspect of a facility. An enterprise-wide template should serve as an outline of required information, populated with site details, and may be useful to responders if highlighted in an stand-alone format.  The information listed in a fire pre-plan, such as floor plan(s) and details of on-site hazardous material(s), are required by multiple agencies (OSHA, DOT, EPA, USCG) as part of an overall emergency response plan.  However, other specific fire-fighting information, such as construction details, hydrant, and utility valve locations are specific to each location.  The information contained within a site’s fire pre plan should be shared with responders prior to an emergency.

The purpose of pre fire emergency plans are to ensure a coordinated, expedient, and safe response in the event of a fire. However, pre plans are only effective if accurate and pertinent information is included. Depending on the operation, pre-plan templates can range from the simple to complex. Utilizing a customizable template allows each site to provide the necessary data required to assist responders in determining the best response for the specific scenario.

Despite the response situation or circumstances, a fire pre plan template should include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Building/site layout information
  • Fire suppression information
  • Hazards locations
  • Utility information
  • Exposure information
  • Water supply
  • Evacuation needs
  • Occupancy information
  • Special procedures for handling, storage and control of items that have been identified as major fire hazards
  • Mutual aid resources
  • Strategies

Responders continually verify the importance for fire pre plan simplicity, clarity and accuracy. Template formats should reflect “best practices” and should be periodically reviewed by responding fire department. From the initial information-gathering phase, to a pre plan application during the response; crucial response information must be shared to ensure a timely and effective response. 

Fire Pre Plan - TRP CORP

Below is a compilation of insightful fire pre plan helpful hints from various first responders and fire departments:

  • Storage and Plan Access:
    • Implement a means of easily accessible pre plan storage and retrieval. Web-based pre plans can offer password protected accessibility options
    • Updates:
      • Update plans and communicate with external responders and fire departments often. Include status updates of new buildings construction and renovations being performed.
    • Template formats:
      • Create easy-to-read formats. Responders may be reading these plans at night, in periods of limited light, and in inclement weather. The easier to read, the better it is for all responders.
      • Separate large complexes into color-coded quadrants. Response strategies can be developed for each quadrant, making it much easier to respond to fires in large complexes.
    • Site Access:
      • Update external responders on perimeter gate entry codes whenever changes are made.
      • Identify location of alarm panel locations, and key box locations.
    • Hazardous Materials:
      • Specify location and identity of stored hazardous materials
      • Include known quantities of hazardous materials, if applicable
    • Training and Exercises:
      • Coordinate response exercises with fire department training drills
    • Best Practices and Advancements:
      • Implement lessons learned and new firefighting tactics and equipment into response plans

Just as fire extinguishers are accessible to employees, response plans must be accessible to responders. Companies should involve local fire departments and specialized emergency responders in the development of fire pre plans, and conduct coordinated fire drills to ensure the safety of individuals and response capabilities of responders.

 

Challenged with managing preparedness amongst your various facilites? Download TRP's best practices guide on response planning for large organizations with multi-facility operations.

Multiple Facility Response Planning Company Preparedness Guide DOWNLOAD

Tags: Fire Department Training, Fire Pre Plans, Fire Preparedness, Emergency Management, Response Plans, Emergency Management Program

3 "Best Practice" Concepts for Managing Established Response Plans

Posted on Mon, May 05, 2014

The potential reality of an emergency scenario, employee injury or death, business interruption, or negative corporate reputation is an ongoing risk. Because of this persistent potential and changing variables, preparedness must be an evolutionary process.  Establishing and maintaining mechanisms, processes, and/or procedures that result in predictable and repeatable behavior that counteract negatively impacting scenarios is the objective of preparedness.

“Preparedness is best thought of as a process—a continuing sequence of analyses, plan development, and the acquisition of individual and team performance skills achieved through training, drills, exercises, and critiques.” (Dynes, et al., 1972; Kartez & Lindell, 1987, 1990).

It is important to recognize that improvising and implementing unplanned response actions is time-consuming, often inadequate, and typically damaging. Whether companies have established response plans, or are developing new plans, they must establish a process to incorporate the following response planning elements:

  1. Identify
  2. Review
  3. Verify

Each response-planning element is strongly connected with the others. When all three elements are in motion, the ongoing process of preparedness is established, giving companies the best possible prognosis for an effective response.

1. Identify: Preparedness is a continual sequence of analysis. Operational consolidation and growth, and changing threat variables require recognition. In order to prepare for and respond to an incident, emergency managers must identify:

  • What risks and hazards may result in an incident?
  • What processes are put in place to limit the exposures to risks and hazards?
  • What community/environmental sensitivities exist?
  • Who will respond when an incident occurs?
  • How will responders respond (processes and procedures)?
  • How will individuals/employees respond to secure their safety?
  • What training will responders need to respond, counteract impacts, and restore to pre-incident levels
  • What tools/equipment are necessary to respond to an incident and who will provide these necessities?
  • What local, state, and/or federal organizations should be consulted?
  • What regulations apply?
2. Review: The preparedness process and response plans must be adjusted to accommodate newly identified variables. Reviews of response procedures, mitigation opportunities, best practices, response objectives, and operational requirements are necessary to ensure preparedness and effective response measures are in place. Reviews should include, but are not limited to:
  1. Data and computer needs: Review the procedural details of computer backups, data restoration methods, and the minimum program needs to re-establish critical business processes.  Companies should examine current data center outsourcing or other alternatives to ensure continuity and accessibility.
  2. Notification lists:  Response plan administrators must be certain that newly-assigned personnel are included in the plan, as necessary, and that notifications are being delivered to accurate e-mail addresses and/or phone numbers. Review contact lists to ensure all necessary information is correct.
  3. Communication needs: Clear and effective communication channels must remain available in order to disseminate information to employees, assess and relay damage, and coordinate a recovery strategy. Evaluate current communication equipment and/or mass notification systems to communicate to key individuals, company employees, or an entire client base, as each scenario deems necessary.
  4. Supply Chain: As a company’s needs change and new suppliers come online, potential suppliers should be evaluated and plans should be updated to reflect any changes. Alternate resources should be reviewed to ensure availability, delivery, and continued operations in the event primary suppliers are not available when needed.
  5. Essential Personnel: Ensure necessary minimum staffing levels are acceptable to remain operational.  Review individual responsibilities and recovery time objectives with staff, contractors, and suppliers.
  6. Equipment needs: Review availability of necessary equipment and establish processes for response, recovery, and continued operations, in order to minimize downtime and additional recovery efforts. .

3. Verify: The overall emergency response program readiness must be verified for effectiveness and accuracy, regardless of the threat or hazard. Training and exercises are valuable verification tools that can confirm effective response planning and preparedness efforts. Verification should include, but is not limited to:

  • A system for assessing emergency scenarios and prioritizing incident responses
  • Thresholds and procedures for activating the Incident Management or Crisis Management Team
  • Notification information (If maintaining accurate contact information is challenging, consider opting for a e-mail notification verification system that enables each contact to verify their own information. Companies can also offer incentives, such as drawings or prizes, to encourage all personnel to register for notifications.)
  • Roles and responsibilities of the Incident Management or Crisis Management Team members
  • Communication and notification procedures to facilitate interaction among responders and Incident Management Team
  • Guidelines and checklists to facilitate an effective and organized response
  • Verification of on-site hazardous materials details, response equipment, and response times

(Note: The compiled lists are not all-inclusive.  A comprehensive preparedness program must include the identification, review, and verification of site-specific details, regulatory compliance requirements, response parameters, training and exercise measures, and applicable hazards, risks, and threats)

Challenged with managing preparedness amongst your various facilites? Download TRP's best practices guide on response planning for large organizations with multi-facility operations.

Multiple Facility Response Planning Company Preparedness Guide DOWNLOAD

 

Tags: Facility Response Plan, Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans, Emergency Response Planning, Event Preparedness

An Expert Guide to Demobilization and Post-Incident Recovery

Posted on Mon, Apr 28, 2014

Pre planning for demobilization and post-incident recovery allows for a collaborative understanding of necessary recovery elements and critical business unit restoration processes. Recovery objectives should include the meticulous restoration, strengthening, and revitalization of the site, surrounding infrastructures, and operations.

Disaster response operations should prioritize timely and accurate communication to facility managers, critical decision makers, emergency response teams, stakeholders, vendors and contractors, and, if applicable, the public in order to accelerate recovery without duplicating efforts. Once the response is concluded, specific demobilization guidelines provide “agreed-to procedures” to help facilitate a more organized and expedited return to normal operating conditions.  

The process of standing down response resources in an efficient and timely manner provides considerable cost benefits.

Issues to consider for demobilization include:

  • The On-Scene Incident Commander should approve the release or demobilize of response resources prior to initializing the process
  • Assign personnel to identify surplus resources and probable resource release times
  • Establish demobilization priorities based on the specific incident
  • Verify established decontamination procedures and necessary resources are available
  • If necessary, develop/communicate a Disposal Plan for the disposal of hazardous materials or wastes, as necessary.
  • Identify personnel travel needs and coordinate travel arrangements, as necessary.
  • Plan for equipment repair, decontamination, maintenance services, and inspections, as necessary
  • Initialize impact assessments and post-incident reviews

Even as the site response is being demobilized, responders must maintain heightened safety awareness. Any incident that extends beyond normal operating procedures may require a recovery plan component. The ability to institute a successful recovery plan requires stakeholders to maintain a clear understanding of post-disaster roles, responsibilities, and objectives. These components may include, but are not limited to:

RECOVERY PLANNING

  • Coordinate development, training, and exercise of the disaster recovery plan.
  • Establish and maintain contacts/networks for recovery resources and support systems.
  • Promulgate principles and practices that perpetuate resiliency and sustainability

RECOVERY OPERATIONS

  • Assess damage
  • Verify facility accessibility and safety
  • Identify internal and external recovery team contacts and contractors
  • Identify the scope of work for repair
  • Development of site specific plans and schedules for executing repairs
  • Restoration of operations
  • Institute mitigation measures
  • Identify “lessons learned” through post-incident reviews

Once the recovery period begins and/or appears that it will extend beyond the recovery capabilities of the facility, the Incident Commander should be responsible for the following:

  • Lead the creation and coordinate the activities of local recovery-dedicated organizations and initiatives.
  • Work with the federal, state, and local agency coordinators to develop a unified and accessible communication strategy.
  • Participate in damage and impact assessments with other recovery partners.
  • Organize recovery-planning processes to fully engage stakeholders and identify recovery objectives, priorities, resources, capabilities, and recovery capacity.
  • Ensure inclusiveness of the community in the recovery process through media and public relations efforts
  • Continually communicate recovery priorities to government liaisons, recovery stakeholders, employees, and the community.
  • Incorporate critical mitigation, resilience, sustainability and accessibility building measures into the recovery plans and efforts.
  • Lead the development of the facility’s recovery plan(s) and ensure that they are actionable and feasible based on available funding and capacity.
  • Collaborate with State, Federal and other stakeholders to identify external financial support for recovery, leverage the resources where possible and resolve potential duplication of assistance.
  • Work closely with the recovery leadership at all levels to ensure a well-coordinated, timely, and well-executed recovery.
  • Develop and implement recovery progress measures and communicate adjustments and improvements to applicable stakeholders and authorities.

The primary purpose of post-incident reviews is to identify deficiencies in the response plan and determine necessary actions to correct the deficiencies. The post-incident reviews can often reveal which response procedures, equipment, and techniques were effective, and which were not and the reason(s) why. These reviews can lead to “lessons learned” and should be reflected in the response plan, training efforts, and exercise objectives.

At a minimum, post-incident review checklists should include:

  • Name and typical duties of personnel being debriefed
  • Date, time and whereabouts of employee during incident
  • Actions taken during incident
  • Positive aspects of how the response occurred
  • Aspects identified for improvement

Be prepared for your next incident! Click the image below to download your free guide.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Incident Action Plan, Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Incident Management, Event Preparedness

A Lesson in Emergency Preparedness: Learn from Past Incidents

Posted on Thu, Apr 17, 2014

From every event, whether a planned exercise or an actual emergency, lessons can be learned to improve the outcome of the next response. Emergency managers should not camouflage preparedness, response, or communication failures.  Instead, they should draw from the scenario experience to improve the overall emergency management program.

Immediately after an exercise or incident, it is critical to:

  1. Conduct post incident reviews
  2. Gather conclusions from interviews
  3. Identify necessary changes for program implementation
  4. Apply lessons to targeted area(s)

Actual recovery times can be evaluated and any obstacles that led to perpetuating the response should be mitigated. Emergency managers should incorporate lessons learned into response plans, highlight any additional training measures, and inject new responses procedures into exercise simulations.

The post-incident review is an evaluation of incident response used to identify and correct weaknesses, as well as determine strengths. Timing of a post-incident review is critical. An effective review requires that response and preparedness discussions take place while a disaster fresh in the minds of decision makers, responders, and the public. From this review, lessons learned can be identified and the task of preparedness and response improvement can begin.

The post-incident review process is intended to identify which response procedures, equipment, and techniques were effective or ineffective, and the reason(s) why. The question “How can our emergency response process be improved?” should be asked for each subject under the post-incident critique.

Post-incident reviews should include, but is not limited to:

  1. Name and typical duties of personnel being debriefed
  2. Date, time and whereabouts of employee during incident
  3. Specific actions performed during the incident
  4. Documentation of the positive aspects of the response and areas for improvements
  5. Recovery time and possible mitigation measures for improvement
  6. Potential lessons learned
  7. Necessary program and plan revisions
  8. Condition of equipment used, both prior to and after the incident
  9. Overall post-incident perception

Key areas of consideration that should be analyzed by a review team can include, but not limited to:

Initial Response

  • Was the emergency detected promptly?
  • How was it detected?
  • Could it have been detected earlier? How?
  • Are any instruments or procedures available to consider, which might aid in earlier detection of the incident?

Notifications

  • Were proper procedures followed in notifying government agencies?
  • Were notifications prompt?
  • Was management notified promptly?
  • Were personnel notified promptly? If so, why, how and who? If not, why not?
  • Were contact numbers up to date?

Assessment/Evaluation

  • Was the magnitude of the problem assessed correctly at the start?
  • What means were used for this assessment?
  • Are any guides or aids needed to assist emergency evaluation?
  • What sources of information were available on winds, on water currents and other variables?
  • Is our information adequate?

Response Mobilization

  • What steps were taken to mobilize countermeasures to the emergency?
  • What resources were used?
  • Was mobilization prompt? Could the response time improve? How?
  • What about mobilization of labor resources?
  • Was it appropriate to mobilize company resources and was this promptly initiated?
  • What other company resources are available and have they been identified and used adequately?

Response Strategy

  • Was there a Response Plan available for reference?
  • Was it flexible enough to cope with unexpected events?
  • Does the plan include clear understanding of local environmental, political or human sensitivities?
  • What was the initial strategy for response to this emergency?
  • Is this strategy defined in the Response Plan?
  • How did the strategy evolve and change during the emergency and how were these changes implemented?

Response Resources

  • What resources were mobilized?
  • How were they mobilized?
  • How did resource utilization change with time? Why?
  • Were resources used effectively?
  • What changes would have been useful?
  • Do we have adequate knowledge of resource availability?

Command Structure

  • Who was initially in charge of responding to the emergency?
  • How did this change with time? Why?
  • What changes would have been useful?
  • Was there adequate monitoring of the incident?
  • Were communications adequate?
  • Was support from financial services adequate? Prompt?
  • Should financial procedures be developed to handle such incidents?

Upon conclusion of the post-incident interviews, the following lesson learned concepts should be examined, mitigated if possible, and incorporated for an improved emergency management program:

  1. Unidentified potential risk or hazard: A hazard and vulnerability analysis should be performed, and processes and procedures should be developed and added to the plans.
  2. Management gaps and weaknesses: If the post incident reviews revealed weaknesses or gaps in the emergency management organization, the structure and/or roles should be modified and emergency plans revised.
  3. Ineffective policies and procedures: If the policies and procedures fail to address key issues during the incident, policies and procedures would need to be modified to address inadequacies.
  4. Lack of response proficiency: If response was faulty due to deficient training, exercising, or planning, these efforts should be amplified and personnel should be familiarized with these modifications
  5. Planning deviations: If participants successfully diverged from existing processes, procedures, or plans theses areas should be modified to reflect the reality of the performance.

Applying lessons learned to an emergency management program enables the ability to use experiences as a means to improve to better prepare for future emergency scenarios. By analyzing the past, executing enhancements, and reinforcing strengths companies and municipalities will be better prepared to not repeat history.

For your free guide on preparing for your next incident, click the image below:

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Tactical Response Planning, Crisis Mapping, Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Emergency Response Planning

Consultants Combat Emergency Management Challenges: Oil and Gas Industry

Posted on Mon, Mar 24, 2014

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the oil and gas extraction industry, as well as the petroleum and coal products manufacturing, accounted for the some of the lowest recordable occupational injury incident rates in private industry for 2011. But despite statistics, the industry’s public safety perception has been tested by highly publicized tragic incidents, increasing the pressures on emergency managers.

Preparedness planning and emergency management within the highly regulated energy industry requires expertise. Those who manage these programs face many challenges. Preparing for resilience requires planning, internal and external response coordination, training, and exercises. In addition to grappling with budget restraints, program managers are responsible for planning, regulatory compliance, and possibly responding to  emergencies. Implementing this level of company and facility resilience often requires external expertise or the services of specialized consultants.

Oil and gas emergency management program challenges may include:

  1. Maintaining multiple and complex response plans
  2. A lack of detailed site-specific response strategies
  3. Frequent personnel changes
  4. Evolving compliance requirements
  5. Regulatory audits
  6. Emergency management personnel who have other full-time responsibilities
  7. Minimal time available for training   
  8. Training
  9. Increased risk of regulatory penalties and fines
  10. Reduced budgets
  11. Gathering or verifying site-specific information for Oil Spill Response, Emergency Response, and SPCC Plans.
  12. Providing professional engineer certification for SPCC plans.
  13. Developing Oil Spill Tactical Plans for response strategies downstream of your facilities and pipelines.
  14. Developing response pre-plans for tanks, process units, and buildings,  and high angle and confined space rescue plans.
  15. Conducting emergency response assessments of personnel, response equipment, plans, and response contractors.

The ramifications of non-compliance or a hazardous incident can be exceedingly detrimental to oil and gas companies. As a result, many oil and gas companies utilize consultants to ensure their preparedness program levels match regulatory compliance requirements and best practice implementation. These specialized experts recognize that proven best practices and strict compliance reduces the inherent hazards associated with oil and gas operations.

TRP Corp - Oil and Gas Consultant

The costs associated with contracting consulting services are always in question. When hiring an external emergency management and preparedness consultant, oil and gas companies should evaluate the strategic cost of an incident and the tactical cost of safety compliance versus the consultant fee. The cost benefit of hiring a specialized, reputable consultant typically outweighs the financial impacts associated with non-compliance or a catastrophic incident.

A consultant can improve safety performance and reduce the strategic cost of an incident by:

  • Reducing the overall number of incidents
  • Improving the ability to respond effectively
  • Improving the casualty and harm conditions through expedited responses and accident avoidance
  • Proactively showing intent and safety investment through the media and public
  • Helping reduce downtime
  • Improving asset utilization

In addition, the tactical cost of compliance can be reduced if a competent and proven consultant is contracted. A consultant can improve the tactical cost of compliance by:

  • Simplifying and automating tracking, updating, and management
  • Facilitating a universal ability to update response management plans across all locations and facilities
  • Automating core compliance and response planning activities
  • Reducing the compliance and safety resource requirements
  • Enabling EHS workers to spend time planning and performing vs. complying and reporting
  • Optimizing and coordinating drills, exercises, and actual emergency responses

Consultants can also provide assistance in responding to incidents or non-compliance issues. With each occurrence, vital proactive measures, including procedural and preparedness efforts, can be implemented in order to safely minimize future mandates, fines, accidents, and/or catastrophes.

Learn why Audits can minimize non-compliance, what documents should be reviewed, how they can imprive HSE programs: Download your Audit Preparedness Guide for Industrial Regulatory Compliance (click the image below):

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

 

Tags: Choosing a Consultant, Facility Response Plan, Emergency Management, OPA 90, Emergency Response Planning, Workplace Safety

Energy Industry Regulations: Simplify Frequent Response Plan Changes!

Posted on Mon, Mar 17, 2014

According to regulations.gov, Federal agencies issue nearly 8,000 new or amended regulations per year. Each regulation may be specific to an industry, intent of operations, and/or site variables. To add to the complexity, industrial companies are often tasked with complying with multiple regulations from numerous agencies, creating a perpetual state of unrest for emergency management directors and professionals.

For example, one Louisiana industrial facility must comply with as many as 700 individual requirements while evaluating, addressing, and implementing additional impending regulations. To aid with the specifics of planning compliance, response plans should be easily adaptable to reflect relevant regulatory circumstances.

Regulatory changes result in necessary steadfast planning teamwork and typically, many dedicated administrative hours of time-consuming response plan updates. Advanced technology can streamline the process of maintaining compliant response plans, minimizing the burden on emergency management programs and associated budgets.

If government regulations are applicable to operations, companies must prioritize compliance and associated management techniques in order to minimize financial burdens resulting from fines, negative public perceptions, and potential government mandated shutdown of operations.

Simplifying the regulatory review and update process ensures a consistent path toward compliance. Assimilating the following concepts into preparedness programs can simplify the implementation of stringent regulatory standards:

  • Use of Database Technology - On the corporate level, utilizing database technology in response plans allows for a hyperlinked association of each regulatory requirement to applicable facilities. Identifying which facilities’ response plans are associated with specific evolving regulatory information can be effectively managed with the use of a database. This cross-reference capability can be further applied at the facility level by linking site-specific information to corresponding regulatory standard(s).
  • Expand Search Functionality with Technology- Advanced technology creates the ability to search a response plan database for key words and phrases associated with regulations. Gathering specific information will simplify the regulatory update process. Extended search functionality is associated with database technology, and not available in paper plans or multiple separate Microsoft Word documents.
    • Operational category: Categories can range from air quality and hazardous materials, to construction safety and general safety and health. Depending on the detail required by the regulations, further breakouts by subcategories may also be required.
    • Applicable Regulation Level:  Regulations should be further broken down to Federal, state or local regulation categories.
    • Industry Standard:  Industry standards or best practices that apply to the specific regulatory requirement
  • Available Expertise - Identify corporate resources or external compliance expertise, and leverage that knowledge enterprise-wide.
  • Identify Facility-Specific Regulations - Highlight mandatory submission requirements and tasks for each facility associated with each regulatory requirement. By imbedding a timestamp on response plans, compliance and emergency managers can identify the date that each regulation was last updated.
  • Tasking - Assign compliance tasks, frequencies, due dates, persons responsible, and document of outstanding and completion actions related to compliance standards. Those responsible for each compliance task should provide feedback if additional actions or mitigation measures are necessary.
  • Identify Best Practices - Apply best practices related to compliance with specific regulatory requirements, when practical to do so. Best practices are often incorporated into required elements.
  • Organize Compliance Information by subject - Eliminating redundancies across converging compliance requirements is extremely beneficial for organizations that have multiple regulatory requirements related to the same subject matter. A response plan database can limit duplication of tasks and planning responsibilities, minimizing dedicated administrative hours.

Implementing an enterprise-wide emergency response planning system can ease the challenges associated with plan updates. In addition to the benefits associated with compliance, planning systems can:

  • Support the ability to execute company approved response strategies
  • Easily incorporate company growth and facility acquisitions
  • Enable site specific details while not compromising company directives
  • Be easily updated with minimal dedicated staff
  • Become a shared tool for internal and external responders
  • Allow for streamlined regulatory compliance audits

For a free Audit Preparedness Guide for Industrial Regulatory Compliance, click the image below:

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

 

Tags: Choosing a Consultant, Emergency Management, Response Plans, Regulatory Compliance, Emergency Management Program

2 Tips for Simplifying Future Regulatory Compliance Audits

Posted on Thu, Mar 06, 2014

The goal of performing gap analyses, audits, and regulatory inspections is to minimize the potential for emergency incidents, ensure regulatory compliance, and streamline response actions. Maximizing safety standards and processes, and implementing “best practices” should be part of a company’s core ethical principles, even when law does not mandate them.

In order to simplify future audits, companies should become familiar with the following two key concepts:

  1. Industry Best Practices
  2. Regulatory Recognition

Companies should not rely on the prospect of a regulatory agency inspection to ensure preparedness programs are sufficient. Your facility’s innate problems are most likely shared with others within your industry. Companies can be guided on how to approach a problem or implement a solution by researching applicable best practices. Often, the expertise and knowledge that drove the best practices into existence stems from the emergency response experiences of others and their motivated efforts to address the inherent problem(s).

While companies may not need to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to safety and response procedures, facilities need to confirm that the best practices apply to their site-specific situation.  There are numerous industry-specific best practices within safety, preparedness, and response planning. Additionally, each facet of a company’s operations can be broken down to examine specific best practices for a particular action, material, scenario, or site circumstance.  For example, best practices exist in the following areas:

  • Pre-incident planning
  • Training
  • Exercises
  • National Incident Management System
  • Security
  • Fire brigades
  • Rescue
  • Hazardous materials handling/response
  • Fire loss prevention
  • Evacuation
  • And more

To identify applicable best practices, companies must identify site and operational risks and associated necessary responses. Each facility should be analyzed for potential risks and/or hazards. Once hazards are recognized and evaluated, they should be eliminated or controlled through mitigation and/or procedural planning. Identified site characteristics, countermeasures, and response efforts should be included in required regulatory plans.

In order to attain compliance, applicable regulations must be recognized. Regulations must be recognized in order for a gap on processes, procedures, or responses to be identified. Regulatory recognition can occur through routine inspections, job hazard analyses, and audits. Facility managers, and company health, safety, and environmental managers should become familiar with regulations applicable to their area of responsibility .  These individuals, or a consultant with specialized industry and regulatory experience, should identify all applicable regulations based on location, industry, operations, hazards, and response specifics. According to FEMA, companies should review applicable regulations relating to the following areas:

  • Employee Safety & Health:  Emergency action plans are one of the OSHA standards that apply to many employers with 10 or more employees. Other regulations pertain to means of egress (exits), medical services, hazardous waste, confined spaces, fire protection, firefighting and more.
  • Environmental Regulations: Businesses that manufacture, treat, store, or dispose of hazardous chemicals that exceed threshold quantities may be required to comply with multiple environmental regulations.
  • Business Continuity and Information Technology: Businesses that store customer contacts and financial information, such as credit card data, may have to comply with information security regulations. Companies should remain in communication with their specific industry trade group or state office of economic development for applicable regulations.
  • Life Safety and Fire Codes: Life Safety codes are designed to ensure that building occupants can be safely evacuated if there is a fire or other emergency within a building. Fire prevention codes specify requirements for fire safety.

Audits, whether done by in-house professionals or specialized contractors, can often reveal the same inadequacies and mitigation opportunities as regulatory inspections, without the potential reputational and financial consequences of non-compliance. . With an objective eye, an audit can bolster an overall emergency management program and minimize the chance of impeding incidents or regulatory fines.

For a free white paper on how audits can assist your company with regulatory compliance, click the image below:

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Regulatory Compliance, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Event Preparedness