Your Solution for SMART Response Plans

Ten Tips for Workplace Emergency Response Plans

Posted on Thu, Feb 23, 2017

An emergency only takes seconds to escalate. At the very least, each company facility or site should develop and implement an emergency plan for protecting employees, visitors and contractors. Whether the plan is mandated by corporate policy or regulatory agencies, a widely accessible workplace emergency plan can maximize response efficiencies and minimize impacts of the emergency on employees, the environment, and infrastructure.

FEMA identifies five mission areas that can serve as a basic understanding of the emergency management process. These areas include:

  • Prevention: Prevent, avoid, or stop an imminent, threatened or actual act.
  • Protection: Protect employees, citizens, residents, visitors and assets against threats and hazards.
  • Mitigation: Reduce the loss of life and property by lessening risks, threats, and impacts.
  • Response: Respond efficiently to save lives, protect property, and the environment, and meet basic human needs in the aftermath of a catastrophic incident.
  • Recovery: Recover through a focus on the timely restoration, strengthening and revitalization of infrastructure, sustainable operations, as well as the health, social, cultural, historic and environmental fabric of communities affected by a catastrophic incident.

For companies with multiple sites, an enterprise-wide template can streamline formats and serve as an outline for company-mandated information and regulatory compliance content. However, each location’s plan should contain site-specific details that are unique to the facility and can possibly affect the response. A customizable, secure, web-based template with a database of common company planning information allows each site to provide facility-specific compliance data, as well as the precise information required to assist responders in determining the best response for the specific scenario.

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To help you develop a general outline that can be used to guide your response planning agenda, Ready.gov offers the following guidance.

  1. Identify Objectives: Review preparedness and response planning performance objectives for your company or site’s program. Objectives may include regulatory compliance, hazard prevention/deterrence, risk mitigation, emergency response and business continuity.
  2. Perform a Risk Assessment: Review hazard or threat scenarios identified during a risk assessment.
  3. Identify Response Resources: Identify the availability and capabilities of resources to help stabilize the situation including people, systems and equipment within your facility, as well as external sources.
  4. Create Incident Management Team: This requires response plan knowledge, role specific training, and an effective synergy between team members and external responders.
  5. Evaluate Applicable Regulations: Determine which response planning regulations pertain to your facility and how you can ensure compliance within your site-specific plan.
  6. Develop Protective Action Response Procedures: Evaluate and include life protective action procedures such as evacuation, shelter, shelter-in-place, lockdown.
  7. Establish Hazard-Specific Response Procedures: Depending upon the response planning structure and required content, hazard-specific information may be either included within the response plan or created as a separate stand-alone plan.
  8. Coordinate with public emergency services: Work with public emergency services such as fire, police, HAZMAT teams and emergency medical services to share knowledge of your facility and its hazards, understand their capabilities to stabilize an emergency, and determine their response time to your facility that would be needed to stabilize incidents at your facility.
  9. Emergency Response Training: Training is essential so that everyone on site knows what to do in an emergency or disruption of business operations. Training should include, but not limited to
  • Response plan familiarization
  • Individual roles and responsibilities
  • Plan review training whenever a substantial change or revision is made to the plan that affects organization, procedures, roles and responsibilities, or response capability.
  • Refresher courses, as necessary
  1. Response Drills and Exercises: Corporate preparedness drills and exercises, which may include fire and evacuation drills, should be designed to test response plan components and participants’ knowledge of expectations and required duties to deploy response strategies and tactics, and restore operations.

Tags: Emergency Preparedness, Workplace Safety

Expert Tips on Addressing Corporate EOP Challenges?

Posted on Thu, Sep 29, 2016

One of the most important, yet challenging, aspects of maintaining up-to-date and compliant emergency operations plans (EOPs) is to initiate updates in a timely manner. These challenges are often intensified by changes in organizational structures. Corporate downsizing, mergers, acquisitions or reorganizations in additional to typical employee turnover can render required EOPs inaccurate, obsolete, and non-compliant. As corporate frameworks expand and contract, processes must in place to verify EOP details for each location and certify site-specific regulatory compliance.

Company-Wide EOP Audit

Cyclical EOP audits enable continuous reviews and potential revision opportunities. But as company facilities, operations, equipment, and employees change, it is critical that each site’s EOP be audited by EHS department or plan administrator(s) to determine potential discrepancies, format disparities, and regulatory deficiencies. The following preparedness concepts and EOP particulars should be reviewed for each company facility for the accuracy and effectiveness:

  • Safety and health procedures
  • Evacuation plan
  • Fire protection plan
  • Environmental policies
  • Security procedures
  • Supply chain purchasing and response procedures
  • Closing and communication policy
  • Employee manuals
  • Hazardous materials plan, if applicable
  • Business Continuity plan
  • Risk management plan
  • Hurricane/Tornado/Flood Plans
  • Mutual aid agreements

If discrepancies and deficiencies are identified, adjustments must be incorporated to ensure compliance, efficiency, and effectiveness. If multiple updates are needed, it is beneficial to utilize a web-based, database driven planning system that can eliminate duplication of tasks and planning responsibilities, minimizing costs of dedicated administrative hours.

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Review Historical EOP Oversights

Typical EOP errors include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Personnel listed in response plans are no longer employed with the company or at specific facility
  • Emergency response duties and responsibilities are not assigned to appropriate personnel
  • Inaccurate contact information for company personnel and external resources
  • Lack of detailed hazardous material spill response procedures
  • Lack of site-specific fire pre-plans
  • Training deficiencies
  • Inefficient documentation
  • Inconsistencies or missing information required for current local, state and/or federal regulations
  • Differing plan formats and versions resulting in varied information and disjointed composition
  • No efficient process for implementing lessons learned, changes in policies, or regulatory requirements

 

Initiate Safety and Response Best Practices

When specific site, operational, response, or regulatory components change, facilities need to confirm that best practices apply to their site-specific situation. Deliberating on and implementing applicable best practices and lessons learned can positively impact company preparedness and response readiness. While companies may not need to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to safety and response procedures, each facet of a company’s operations should be broken down to examine specific best practices for a particular action, material, scenario, and/or site circumstance.  For example, safety and response best practices exist in the following areas:

  • Pre-incident planning
  • PPE and response equipment
  • Security
  • Fire brigades
  • Rescue
  • Hazardous materials handling/response
  • Fire planning and prevention
  • Shelter-in-place and evacuation
  • Training
  • Exercises

Incorporating site-specific and current human resource information into a plan allows for the plan to go from stagnant process and procedures, to an actionable response. Accurate internal and external contact information must be verified and documented in order for assigned response roles and responsibilities to be carried out.

 

Streamline Emergency Communications

The ability to communicate among internal and external responders, as well as adopting the Incident Command System (ICS) is an important element. ICS provides “structure across multi-jurisdictional or multi agency incident management activities to enable agencies with different legal, jurisdictional, and functional responsibilities to coordinate, plan, and interact effectively on scene.” This open communication can increase the potential that enterprise-wide EOP response procedures are carried out in accordance with best practices and company protocols. When company components and/or organizational structures change, collaborative planning and exercise efforts can often validate participants’ positions, align priorities and common interests, and motivate participants to seek compromise for the good of corporate preparedness and effective response.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Emergency Preparedness, corporate preparedness

The Evolution of Response Planning - The TRP Story

Posted on Thu, Jul 14, 2016

Technical Response Planning Corporation (TRP) staff recently sat down with its Founder and President, Steve Bassine, to discuss the company’s origins, its evolution, and the response to the ever changing demands of corporate preparedness and response planning.

After graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering, Bassine began his career as a Project Engineer for Exxon’s South Texas Production Division in Corpus Christi, TX. It was in this first job that Bassine learned the importance of effective communication. “My role was ten percent engineering and 90 percent written and verbal communications.” While college prepared Bassine with a deep understanding of engineering concepts and principles, and provided the foundation to broaden his knowledge of oil and gas production, equipment and processing, regulatory compliance, and onshore and offshore operations, he discovered that fine-tuning his written, verbal, and decision-making skills were needed in order to be an effective project manager and future entrepreneur.

After the oil slump of the late 1980’s halted Bassine’s initial entrepreneurial aspirations, he accepted a job with a consulting firm that specialized in oil spill response planning. His immersive corporate and field experience with Exxon coupled with a practical expertise in response planning prompted Bassine to explore simplified preparedness processes.  “I knew there were better ways of doing things, and I needed the freedom to try them,” said Bassine.

In 1995, Bassine founded TRP in an effort to provide innovative response planning practices that simplified preparedness complexities for companies with large operations. “We were working hard to meet Client expectations, and stretching ourselves to find a better way to deliver response plans.” Two years later, the company pioneered industry’s first "electronic plan”, as well as graphical one-page response plans for fire pre-plans, oil spill tactical plans, and spill prevention plans. Bassine proved that these new techniques could be utilized to streamline complex preparedness and response planning processes, a great improvement to the static, paper-based response planning methods of the past.

Bassine continued to push the envelope of response planning innovation with the development of TRP’s first web-based response plans in 2001. “The availability of the Internet, reliance on and better understanding of computers and software, and the emergence of a tech-savvy workforce accelerated the understanding and acceptance of TRP’s approach.” At the time, web-based response plans were a new and unfamiliar concept. “Many companies were reluctant to be the first to commit,” said Bassine, “But today an overwhelming majority of companies are eager to embrace technology in order to help them solve their problems.”

Since 2001, the rapid acceptance of technology has continued to raise expectations for more robust, yet user-friendly functionality. Bassine made it a priority to align emerging technologies, societal behaviors, and client feedback with groundbreaking response planning platforms. The result was a proprietary response planning technology that eliminated redundant planning efforts while reducing errors, version confusion, and regulatory non-compliance. “We are always looking for better, more efficient ways of doing things, and for more user-friendly functionality. This, coupled with frequent feedback from clients and new prospects helps us keep abreast of new technology.”

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But after more than 20 years in the industry, Bassine says many companies are still challenged with preparedness, response planning, and enterprise-wide regulatory compliance issues. “The cyclical nature of the oil and gas industry and the difficulties of managing response plans for large operations are still relevant.” The TRP founder believes that the challenges have continued to increase over the years due to elevated scrutiny from regulatory agencies and the public, heightened profit/loss pressures, and the constant change of company structure, ownership, and staffing.

In a continual effort to simplify company-wide response planning, TRP released its SMARTPLAN™ software in 2015, which enables companies to do more with less resources. Companies utilizing this latest system can now revise content for multiple plans quickly, track revisions, print plans, manage contacts, and so much more. “Our latest technology reduces administrative efforts, eliminates the need to manage mountains of paper-based response plans and hundreds of Microsoft Word files, and provides a platform that facilitates more rapid and cost-effective upgrades. This leaves more time for our Clients to focus on strategic initiatives and provides assurances that our technology will continue to evolve.”

Incorporating technology for the sake of upgrading can often be costly, time consuming, and counterproductive. However, technology that provides innovative solutions to the challenges associated with preparedness, response planning, and regulatory compliance is highly advantageous in the emergency management realm. As TRP continues to fine-tune technologies and adapt systems to the needs of the consumer, they are setting a new standard for “Best Practices” in response planning software. With new response planning challenges continually arising, TRP solutions will continue to evolve to provide solutions to the ever-changing demands of preparedness and response planning.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans

Utilizing Technology to Improve Regulatory Compliance and Preparedness

Posted on Thu, May 12, 2016

Workforce Reductions and Petroleum Inventories

Industry volatility associated with plunging commodity pricing is pressing many energy companies to operate at minimal staffing levels, challenging them to “do more with less” while sustaining current enterprise-wide preparedness capabilities and regulatory compliance.

Workforce reductions in the energy sector have resulted in a loss of nearly 118,000 jobs in the U.S. since the beginning of 20151, and more than 320,000 positions globally since the downturn began2. Even with reduced staffing, safety expectations, environmental protection standards, and regulatory compliance requirements remain constant - providing justification for utilizing tools that increase efficiencies and further reduce labor costs.

In conjunction with enormous staff reductions, petroleum inventories have increased to record levels. As of April 29, 2016, the U.S. Energy Information Agency listed the inventory of crude oil and petroleum stocks at 2,065,928 (thousand barrels), the highest amount in history3. Although facilities and response plans are designed for a worst case discharge, there is now less margin for error for a large spill, given that many facilities are operating at higher capacities.

Complex Compliance Requirements

Oil storage operations are heavily regulated. Overlapping response plan requirements from multiple agencies are applicable to many facilities. Federal agencies that may require response plans include EPA, U.S. Coast Guard, PHMSA, and OSHA. As many as three different federal agencies regulate OPA 90 for some facilities, and certain states add more requirements. In addition to the complexities of developing and maintaining Facility Response Plans, many facilities are subject to planning requirements for Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures, Dock Operations, Security, Risk Management, Process Safety Management, Emergency Response, and Fire Pre-Plans. Many of these regulations require similar site-specific details, further exemplifying the need for tools that are specifically designed to leverage and manage this content.

In order to maintain company-wide compliance and preparedness, every response plan must contain accurate site-specific details consistent with operations, personnel, topography, sensitivities, weather, and other factors. Maintaining this level of detail across multiple plan types for a large number of facilities is a challenge, especially when less personnel are available. TransMontaigne Partners and DCP Midstream, among others, have embraced cloud-based, database-driven systems specifically designed to improve flexibility, accessibility, efficiency, and consistency of their response plans. Intuitive response planning systems that streamline formats, and utilize database technology to leverage and manage information offer tremendous benefits in improving compliance and preparedness.

SMARTPLAN™ Response Planning Tools

For companies with multiple facilities and locations, cloud-based planning systems, such as Technical Response Planning’s (TRP) SMARTPLAN™ Software, provide a platform for site-specific response plans that integrate seamlessly with company-wide operations, procedures, and policies. DCP Midstream, which has been utilizing TRP’s technology for their Emergency Response Plans since 2001, operates 63 gas processing plants and over 64,000 miles of pipelines across 17 states. “With a footprint that large, we need to leverage technology to improve efficiencies,” says Brian McGuire, Director of Health, Safety and Security for DCP Midstream. TRP’s system enabled DCP Midstream to optimize plan maintenance processes, plan formats, and regulatory compliance at every location.

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In 2013, TRP demonstrated their new SMARTPLAN™ Software to DCP. “I quickly recognized the power of the new platform and improvements that would enable us to easily manage all of our plan types, including SPCC Plans, Business Continuity Plans, and Risk Management Plans, in addition to the Emergency Response and Crisis Management Plans that TRP had been managing since 2001,” says McGuire. “When integration of our current plans into the SMARTPLAN™ platform was completed in 2014, it was an easy decision to also add our NGL Pipeline County Emergency Response Plans and our more than 700 SPCC Plans. TRP’s quick turnaround in transitioning these additional plans exceeded our expectations.”

TransMontaigne Partners, which operates more than 50 refined product bulk storage terminals and pipeline systems, also saw the enterprise-wide benefits of the new system. “TRP recently upgraded our account to their new SMARTPLAN™ platform, which provides even more functionality, flexibility, and tools to help us manage regulatory requirements and plan maintenance for our large operation,” says Dudley Tarlton, Vice President of Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health with TransMontaigne Partners. “Their software allows TransMontaigne Partners to manage our plans much more effectively and with less manpower than could be done with traditional methods.” 

TRP’s SMARTPLAN™ software system and unique approach has been widely adopted by companies like DCP Midstream and TransMontaigne Partners. SMARTPLAN™ accomplishes these improvements in efficiency by providing the following:

Instant Accessibility: Ensures each approved stakeholder has access to the latest version of every response plan. Accessibility options include being able to access live from the Internet, download a static electronic version, or print paper copies. The electronic format also provides the ability for plans to be shared for regulator or auditor review. In addition, hyperlinks, reference libraries, simplified interfaces, and reporting tools improve functionality and further leverage available data for plan users.

Plan Management Tools: Database allows for information to be mapped to multiple locations in all plan types, across an entire company. By reducing time requirements, plan updates are more likely to be performed, thereby improving accuracy and compliance.

Instantaneous Revisions: Plan updates are immediately available to all stakeholders. This eliminates “version confusion” for plan users, which improves response plan accuracy. This functionality also provides the ability to quickly and cost effectively apply lessons learned, regulatory changes, and company reorganization issues across all response plans.

Plan Consistency: Promotes the use of a consistent plan format across entire companies, yet it is still customized to account for company-specific processes and philosophies. This allows for improved familiarization with response plans for all company personnel.

Plan Types: Provides all types of response plans, including Facility Response Plans, Emergency Response Plans, SPCC Plans, Fire Pre-Plans, Business Continuity Plans, and others.

“TRP’s system has always done an amazing job of standardizing our many plans, and helping us manage all of our plan contacts,” says McGuire. “In addition, the new dike volume calculation tools in SMARTPLAN™ have greatly improved the accuracy and documentation of our SPCC plans and have significantly reduced time required to perform manual calculations.”

  1. http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Fed-U-S-oil-job-cuts-reach-about-118-000-7237605.php
  2. http://fuelfix.com/blog/2016/04/07/chevron-cutting-655-houston-jobs-amid-oil-bust/#31744101=0
  3. https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/PET_STOC_WSTK_DCU_NUS_W.htm

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Emergency Preparedness, Regulatory Compliance, corporate preparedness

Disaster Mitigation Measures and Preparedness Elements

Posted on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

Emergency Management should be a continuous cycle of mitigating risk, response planning, training employees, and exercising plans. It is imperative to understand and address plausible scenarios and inherent employee actions, intentions, and perceptions surrounding a potential incident in order to plan effectively. Once every aspect of a potential scenario is defined, a mitigation process should be implemented with the intent to eliminate risk, minimize the potential for escalation, and reduce overall impacts.

As history has proven, not all risks can be averted. Many natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or wildfires, can occur with little or no warning. If your facility experiences a natural disaster, the incident can alter the day-to-day operations for an extended period.  Natural disaster mitigation measures often stem from preparedness and response planning efforts, and site-specific business continuity plans. When mitigation opportunities and preparedness efforts merge, the impacts to employees, operations, and the environment can be minimized even in the case of a natural disaster.

Disasters and emergency incidents can also stem from Internet or power outages, intentional harm, security issues, human error, supply breakdowns, and on-site hazardous materials. Each facility has its own unique associated risks, therefore targeted, site-specific analyses must be conducted. Once every scenario has been identified for probability and likelihood, and dedicated risk mitigation measures and processes have been prioritized and implemented, implications and business disruptions can be minimized.

Companies should evaluate the following risk mitigation measures in order to heighten preparedness levels:

1. Identify potential arrangements and assets that can directly minimize the impact of the associated threat. Evaluate current arrangements and assets to determine if they are sufficient to eliminate incidents or assist in a more timely response.  Examples include: purchasing backup generator, identifying alternate critical suppliers, increasing computer security measures, purchase equipment and/or contract cleanup companies (such as tree, snow, and hazardous material removal), etc.

2. Identify effective facility procedures that may minimize risks. Response evaluations from employees, responders, and industry counterparts can identify “lessons learned”, revealing potential procedural mitigation opportunities. Examples include; routine data backups, shut-off or shut-down procedures, evacuation processes, training specifics, etc.

3. Estimate the cost for implementation of mitigation measures specific to each process and prioritize budgeting, as necessary. A corporate level commitment to preparedness in conjunction with a “lessons learned” mitigation approach can result in improved response capabilities and lessen the impacts of disasters.

4. Identify and update the recovery point objectives to determine what minimum processes need to be “up and running” to conduct business. This includes a time frame breakdown of specifics that need to be recovered in order to minimize impacts. Examples include:  data backups, employees levels, supply chain requirements, etc.

5. Revise and update response and continuity plans if mitigation measures are fully implemented, tested, and successful.

6. Evaluate and update the “Likelihood Level” based on sound data and adjust mitigation efforts as necessary. Examples include impending hurricane, terrorist threats, computer security updates, and large scale local event.

Determine the duration of the mitigation and evaluate a review or audit calendar. Specific mitigated safety processes and response procedures that are currently effective may need adjustments or updates based on improved technology or lessons learned.

Once mitigation efforts have been optimized for implementation, there may be site-specific elements regarding location, operations, and response efforts that cannot be altered. In this case, specific safety processes and response procedures must be developed for each hazard and associated risks in order to minimize potential impacts.

Mitigating the response planning process should incorporate the following:

  • Form a collaborative team: Engage essential personnel in the planning process to identify and mitigate planning gaps, response capabilities, and necessary internal and external resources for an improved response.
    • A core planning team typically includes an emergency manager or security manager, a hazard mitigation expert, local jurisdictions, and any additional available planning experts.
  • Re-evaluate Hazards and Risks: Perform a vulnerability assessment for the purposes of determining priorities, and developing processes and procedures. Understanding the consequences of a potential incident can help prioritize resources and response efforts. It is helpful to assess local jurisdiction’s planning framework to highlight geographical threats.  Potential facility hazards and risks may include, but are not limited to:
    • Natural Hazards
    • Technological Hazards
    • Chemical Hazards
    • Infrastructure Hazards
    • Human Hazards

For a free Audit Preparedness Guide, click the image below:

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: Emergency Preparedness, Mitigation

Enterprise-Wide OPA 90 Plans: Standardize and Comply

Posted on Thu, Feb 12, 2015

Amidst the challenges of sustaining profitable operations, oil and gas companies must ensure that employees and work conditions are compliant with various regulations in order to manage innate risks, operational hazards, and minimize potential detrimental impacts. As a result, regulatory agencies require response plans and response exercises that adequately reflect the current operations and emergency response capabilities.

In the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, emergency preparedness requirements were reassessed and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) was created to instill comprehensive prevention, response, liability, and compensation policies for vessel and facilities that could cause oil pollution to U.S. navigable waters. The law requires that regulated facilities and vessels develop and submit oil spill plans for approval. For facilities adjacent or nearby shorelines, OPA 90 requires compliant site-specific Facility Response Plans (FRP).

Yet, because of the rapid decline in the price of oil, emergency managers are, once again, being asked to “do more with less”. Reduced staffing levels and heightened personnel responsibilities due to budget constraints create various enterprise-wide challenges for environment, health and safety professionals. The mandate of managing and maintaining multiple emergency response plans and ensuring regulatory compliance and site specific accuracy can be a continual uphill battle.

Oil spill responses can be challenging dynamic scenarios with multiple moving parts and trajectories, both in regards to the material spilled and the responders involved. FRPs must provide procedures to quickly, safely, and effectively respond to these potential spills to prevent further damaging effects. This is challenging for a company that has multiple facilities that fall under the OPA 90 compliance requirements.

oilspill

FRPs require site-specific information and response details including, but not limited to:

  • Emergency Response Action Plans, which serves as both a planning and action document
  • Facility information, including  name, type, location, owner, and operator information
  • Emergency notification, equipment, personnel, and evacuation information
  • Identification and analysis of potential spill hazards and spill history
  • Discussion of small, medium, and worst-case discharge scenarios and response actions
  • Description of discharge detection procedures and equipment
  • Detailed implementation plan for response, containment, and disposal
  • Description and records of self-inspections, drills and exercises, and response training
  • Diagrams of facility site plan, drainage, and evacuation plan
  • Security (e.g., fences, lighting, alarms, guards, emergency cut-off valves and locks, etc.)
  • Response plan cover sheet

An enterprise-wide response planning system can remove the uncertainties and challenges associated with managing multiple, regulation-driven response plans. A single web-based system can streamline the update process and simplify plan reviews, ensuring a consistent path toward compliance.  For companies with various facilities, advanced systems offer budget-friendly, advantageous response plan management opportunities, improve the overall planning system framework, and provide greater  accuracy of site-specific emergency response plans.

In addition to simplifying the administrative duties of managing multiple response plans, an enterprise-wide response planning system should:

  • Support the ability to execute company approved response strategies across multiple locations/facilities
  • Easily incorporate company growth and facility acquisitions
  • Enable site-specific details while not compromising company directives
  • Facilitate the ability to update corporate planning elements across many locations,  without compromising site-specific details and response challenges
  • Be easily updated with minimal dedicated staff
  • Become an easily accessible, yet secured, shared tool for internal and external responders
  • Allow for streamlined regulatory compliance audits
  • Automate and optimize response planning, training, and exercise activities
  • Reduce non-compliance issues on a company-wide scale
  • Automate regulatory governance with electronic submissions

An enterprise-wide response planning system enables EHS departments to augment dwindling budgets, spend more time on preparedness planning, and maximize response efforts. The result is a more streamlined company emergency management program that reduces administrative efforts, non-compliance fines, and ineffective responses.

For a free white paper on standardizing response planning, click the image below:

Multiple Facility Response Planning Company Preparedness Guide DOWNLOAD

Tags: Facility Response Plan, Emergency Preparedness, OPA 90, Oil Spill

How to Maximize Corporate Emergency Preparedness for the Unpredictable

Posted on Thu, Oct 02, 2014

Planning for the unpredictable is part of emergency preparedness. Whether preparedness is mandated by corporate policy or regulatory agencies, risk management in cooperation with widely accessible emergency response plans can maximize efficiency and minimize the impacts on employees, the environment, and infrastructure. However, efforts to prepare for, manage, or mitigate risks are often unexecuted, shelved by constrained resources, profit margins, politics, or alternative goals.

In an effort to maximize preparedness and minimize inherent risks, corporate emergency management should provide:

  • A system for assessing and prioritizing incidents
  • Streamlined and standardized response methods
  • Communication and notification procedures
  • Roles and responsibilities for corporate and incident level response teams
  • Optimized training, drills and exercises
  • A demonstrated commitment to safety

By prioritizing an emergency management program, a company demonstrates the foresight to address emergency situations and associated challenges, and proactively affirms its efforts to ensure the safety of employees, the environment, and the surrounding communities. However, in order to maximize safety and plan for inherent emergency situations, site-specific threats and risks must be identified, assessed, mitigated, and planned for.

To manage workplace risks, each facility should be analyzed for potential hazards. These threats to operational status quo may be present in the form of unsafe acts and/or unsafe conditions. Once risks are recognized and evaluated, they should be eliminated if possible, or controlled through procedural planning. A risk management program should include, but not be limited to the following processes and prevention program.

RISK RECOGNITION:

  • Risk recognition can occur through inspections, audits, and job hazard analysis
  • All levels of management should take interest in their company’s risk management program
  • Each manager should establish realistic goals for risk reduction and prevention within their area of responsibility
  • Consult with local or online sources that have pre-identified risks based on site operations and location.

RISK EVALUATION:

  • Evaluate accident probability for each process, procedure, and handled material and resulting level of potential severity if an accident were to occur
  • Evaluation should take into account the time, place, and conditions in which threats or hazards might occur
  • The probability and severity of a risk should determine the priority level for correcting the hazard. The higher the probability and severity of risk, the higher the emphasis should be on corrective action

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RISK ELIMINATION or RISK CONTROL

  • Targeted effort should be made to isolate and eliminate the root cause
  • Realized mitigation opportunities may reduce the amount of response resources required in the event of an incident
  • If root cause cannot be eliminated, changes in process and procedure should be made in order to reduce risk:
    • Implement risk reducing engineering controls, when applicable
    • Implement proactive administrative controls or work place practices
    • Establish process to identify inoperable or malfunctioning equipment and machinery through systematic inspections
    • Establish processes to minimize the effects of naturally occurring hazards
    • Ensure control does not hinder regulatory compliance

RISK COMMUNICATION:

  • Apply the results of analysis through planning and exercises. Employees should be made aware of hazards associated with any workplace process, materials, or location.
  • Accident prevention signs should be posted to remind occupants of the presence of hazards
  • Establish and communicate emergency response plans to employees and appropriate emergency response teams. This includes up to date contact information and notification procedures
  • Calculate, specify, and communicate resource requirements and operational capacities for each targeted scenario to internal and external responders
  • Counteract onsite response deficiencies for each scenario by implementing coordinated interoperability communication

Understanding your company’s risks, from the facility to the corporate level, is essential to preparedness and sustainability. Companies that prioritize risk management and integrate preparedness goals are better prepared to educate employees on potential incidents, and their role in protection, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery.

Auditing your current program is crucial. Click here, or the image below, to download a free Audit Preparedness Guide:

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: BCM Standards, Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Business Risk, Emergency Management Program, Hazard Identification

Ten Reasons for Companies to Invest in Incident Management Programs

Posted on Thu, Sep 25, 2014

Incident Management programs shouldn’t be created for IF an incident happens...but for WHEN an incident happens.

Regulatory compliance mandates, a history of incidents, or an awareness of potential crises typically trigger companies to fund preparedness initiatives. At a minimum, preparedness endeavors and response capabilities should be audited, tested, and updated on an annual basis. Budgeting efforts should be aligned with initiatives in an effort to improve incident management and preparedness capabilities.  Below are ten “best practice” reasons why companies should prioritize funding to advance preparedness initiatives and associated response programs:

#10. Streamline and standardize improved response methods:  A consistent company-wide emergency response management system can deliver site-specific details and management endorsed response processes.  Standardization allows employees and responders to conceptualize their roles and responsibilities across an enterprise, creating a common understanding of intended actions. Streamlining response methods can assist responders in assessing, prioritizing, and responding to incidents.

#9. Optimize drills and training: Employee training, emergency response drills, and applicable exercises identify deficiencies in emergency response planning programs. Incorporating appropriate response training and testing response plans with detailed scenarios will improve response capabilities and coordination, as well as reduce response times.

#8 Improve regulatory compliance: Costly non-compliance fines result from the lack of implemented, thorough, and compliant programs. By systematically aligning response plans and their components with corresponding regulations, companies can identify and amend plan deficiencies that may result in fines and potential government mandated shutdowns.

#7. Simplify and automate response plans: Maintaining response plan can be an administratively taxing endeavor. Continual administrative duties associated with personnel contact information, assignments, training records, exercises, and continual plan updates may be inadequate to sustain an optimal program. Maximizing efficiency through advancements in technology can minimize time associated with maintaining incident response plans.

#6. Improve asset utilization: Companies must utilize employees, responders, equipment, and budgets effectively in order to minimize the effects of a crisis or disaster. Realigning current tangible assets (equipment and/or personnel), mitigating current inefficiencies, and/or budgeting for additional response training or improved equipment will improve the overall effectiveness of an emergency management program.

#5. Demonstrate a commitment to safety:  Companies should proactively affirm the safety of employees and surrounding communities, and protection of the environment, by establishing proven countermeasures to potential threats and associated risks. Prioritizing emergency preparedness initiatives demonstrates a company’s commitment.

#4. Improve conditions:  Harmful conditions pose a risk to occupants, the environment, infrastructures, and/or the surrounding communities. By eliminating or mitigating potentially adverse conditions, unsafe activities, or ineffective responses, companies can reduce the potential for and effect of emergency situations. The risk assessment process can be used to identify potential threats or harmful conditions that can lead to incidents.

#3. Reduce Incidents:  By identifying potential threats and risks, mitigation and preventative measures can be taken to curtail the likelihood of an incident from occurring or reduce its impacts. Mitigation measures may include a variety of tactics including, but not limited to training for employees, updating safety processes and procedures, or securing or purchasing updated equipment.

#2. Reduce downtime:  Operational downtime and production loss reduces revenues. By optimizing and implementing the most effective and functional incident management program possible, incidents can be promptly managed and rapidly demobilized, thereby reducing response-related costs and downtime.  The repercussions from an incident can include detrimental relationships with customers, the surrounding community, and stakeholders.

#1. Cost savings:  Proactive compliance efforts, safety initiatives, training and exercises, and response and resiliency planning are typically less expensive than regulatory fines, sustained response efforts, and overall repercussions resulting from an incident.

Implementing a technologically advanced enterprise-wide emergency management system offers opportunities to increase the effectiveness of planning and preparedness efforts. Gathering lessons learned from various site managers, performing site regulatory gap analyses, and implementing new proven concepts will ensure the best possible functionality and processes within a program.

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Tags: Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans, Incident Management, Training and Exercises, Emergency Management Program

Expert Tactical Response Plan Tips for Oil and Gas Companies

Posted on Thu, Jun 05, 2014

Maintaining accurate and effective response plans requires due diligence. In the oil and gas industry, response planning for a dynamic worst-case scenario with multiple moving parts and various potential trajectories is an ongoing, yet required challenge. However, utilizing web-based, database driven, standardized tactical plan template enables emergency managers to plan for numerous potential impact zones across vastly diverse terrains with multitudes response obstacles. The hazardous nature of the material spilled, the number of responders involved, and the probable impacts requires a pre-planned, coordinated, and swift response effort. A web-based template format allows secured access for various stakeholders, despite their location, maximizing the planning effort for an effective response.  

Tactical response plans contain numerous geographical fixed response actions for the various off-site tracts in the path of an oil spill. These planning tools assist in the implementation of an overall response strategy by minimizing the potential travel distance of a spill.  The tactical planning process identifies the “how” a downstream response will be implemented at a specific location. When spills migrate off site, it is essential to have plans in place that have been developed in cooperation with those in the potential path of a spill. Communication with downstream counterparts lessens spill response anxieties and promotes company/community partnerships.

Through the planning process, information necessary to achieve a successful response is gathered at each downstream response location. The primary objectives of tactical response plans are to:

  • Allow response personnel to prepare for and safely respond to spill incidents
  • Ensure an effective and efficient response despite geographical challenges
  • Identify potential equipment, manpower, and other resources necessary to implement a spill response
  • Outline response procedures and techniques for combating the spill at a specific location
  • Improve regulatory compliance efforts

Because a single oil spill can have a significant or catastrophic impact on downstream environments, it is imperative for emergency managers to cyclically evaluate response processes and maintain the most up-to-date plan possible. Off-site spill responses and containment efforts present unique challenges compared with those within the confines of a specific facility or secondary containment. Downstream spills require a higher level of coordination and communication in effort to minimize impending impacts. Those challenges include, but are not limited to:

  • Response time must be minimal due to spill flow rate and travel distances
  • Potential substantial equipment deployment
  • Waterway access points
  • Coordination and cooperation efforts with private landowners
  • Consequential costs associated with long-term cleanup activities
  • Extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats, fishing, and/or tourism industries
  • Potential lawsuits

In the event of an emergency, updated paper plans are typically not available from all downstream locations. Web-based planning system software increases accessibility options while improving efficiency, functionality, and effectiveness. A standardized, enterprise-wide, yet customizable tactical plan template provides necessary data for each response site.  The systematic tactical response plan format should consist of customary response policies and procedures, as well as detailed, site-specific data necessary for an effective response.

Web-based tactical plans can provide a responder’s perspective of specific short-term actions and details that communicate best site access, assessment tools, and response measures. Tactical spill plans should include the following:

  • Various photographs of each segment (including ground and aerial views, if possible)
  • Maps
  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Land/property owner information
  • Driving directions to the site from main roads
  • Description of potential staging area(s)
  • Specific response tactics for the site location
  • Description of site and applicable waterways
  • Site access specifications
  • Necessary security requirements
  • Waterway flow rates and composition
  • Any critical response information that may be informative to responders
  • Recommended equipment and personnel to implement response strategy
  • Other site specific pertinent issues that may hinder a response

 

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

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Tags: Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans, Oil Spill, Chemical Industry

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