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20 Corporate Emergency Preparedness and Planning Blogs

Posted on Mon, Apr 22, 2013

To ensure employee safety, business continuity, regulatory compliance, and environmental responsibility, companies must dedicate efforts to developing an effective emergency management program. Financial restraints, combined with a “it won’t happen to me” mentality often destroy a corporate preparedness commitment. However, neglecting the concept of a potential worst case scenario or daily operational risks can be detrimental to a company. Accidents, man-made and natural disasters, human error, and equipment failures occur throughout the world on a daily basis. Companies need to embrace the “not if, but when” discourse of response planning.

Below is a compilation of blogs that address emergency and disaster preparedness, from training and fire pre planning to demobilization and post-incident reviews. The information contained in these the blogs can be used to enhance preparedness efforts and reinforce safety, security, and regulatory compliance.

Initial Planning Efforts: Corporate preservation and resilience requires planning. Preparedness  can ensure response processes and procedures are in place to protect employees, the environment, and company assets, while minimizing the effects of an incident, sustaining or recovering operations, and complying with regulatory requirements. Every company is unique and requires site risk analysis, specific employee training, and tailored plans to suit their particular needs, in the event of an incident, disaster, crisis, or disruption. Although circumstances are unique to the needs of each company, the following blogs provide  planning initiatives that may be applicable:

  1. Hazardous Material Response Team Training Requirements
  2. Emergency Response Team Roles and Responsibilities
  3. Business Impact Analysis for Risk Mitigation
  4. Facility Risk Management Planning
  5. The Responsibility of Oil Spill Response: The Qualified Individual

Plan Types: Companies are unique in terms of geographic location, personnel, type of operations, and management approach. As a result, various plan types may be required to address various hazards and regulatory requirements. Specific risks and threats are unique to company, industry, region, and enterprise operations and should be addressed through site-specific plans. Below is a sampling of blogs detailing various plan types that are utilized:

  1. Pre Fire Plan Checklist
  2. The Four Phases of a Business Continuity Plan
  3. Emergency Planning for Natural Disasters
  4. SPCC and Oil Contingency Plans
  5. Corporate Level Emergency Management Plans

Initial Response: Understanding the process and procedures set forth in the response plans, as well as the management of those plans, dictate the initial effectiveness of a response. Executing an effective response can be a complex process of managing multiple simultaneous  elements to ensure a swift and success recovery. Response actions require flexibility, ongoing communication, command unity, resource management, and more. The blogs below address various topics that reflect the procedural and managerial response aspects associated in specific incidents:

  1. Disaster Management Planning Details
  2. Top 10 Checklist for Confined Space Entry
  3. 10 Commonly used Incident Management Forms
  4. Real-Time Incident Management Speeds Up Incident Response
  5. Seven HAZWOPER Training Categories and Response Capabilities

Post Incident: Once an incident is concluded, it is vital to conduct a thorough and objective response evaluation.  A post incident review is one of the most neglected aspects of preparedness, yet it can enhance and strengthen a company’s response management and recovery operations. Response assessments should be all-inclusive, from preparedness to demobilization, and reveal strengths, weaknesses, and concerns based upon organizational and institutional standards. Collaborative industrial and historical lessons learned should be continually reflected in preparedness planning. Utilizing the knowledge of employees, experts, and those involved in previous incidents can streamline response measures for future situations.

  1. 10 Points for a Post Incident Management Critique
  2. Crisis Management Reviews Identify Deficiencies
  3. The Emergency Response Plan- Demobilization and Post Incident Review
  4. 5 Key Point to Review in Facility Emergency Operations Plans
  5. Use "Lessons Learned" to Improve Emergency Response

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: Fire Pre Plans, Emergency Response, Emergency Management, Resiliency, Training and Exercises, Emergency Management Program, Event Preparedness

The Industrial Employee as First Responder

Posted on Thu, Mar 28, 2013

The more diligent a company can be in preparing its employees for a potential emergency, the more effective its response. Vendors at The Lakes at Havasu Mall recently underwent “Active Shooter Response Training” to learn  survival tips in the event of a violent assault at the facility. In the event of an emergent and unfamiliar incident, the most effective reactions come in the form of a trained response. Competency in emergency response procedures is necessary in order to avoid the onset of panic in a crisis situation, and to minimize impacts.

Despite the type of operation, all employees should be trained in response measures appropriate for specifically identified risks. However, an industrial setting poses unique hazards and potential threats, unlike those in other fields. Specialized training must address these site-specific, potentially hazardous issues, and complement response team roles and responsibilities.

However, despite an industrial setting, not all employees will be assigned to a formal response team. Efforts must be made to train non-response team members in initial response actions and the appropriate initiation procedures. Personnel, upon discovering a significant event or condition that requires urgent response from outside trained personnel, should take the suggested initial response actions listed below:

Initial Response Actions:

  1. Warn others in the immediate area by word of mouth and/or activate local alarms.
  2. Take immediate personal protective measures (PPE, move to safe location, etc.).
  3. Report the emergency to Security or 9-1-1, depending on company policy.
  4. Implement local response actions (process shutdowns, activate fire protection systems, etc.) if safe to do so, and consistent with level of training and area specific procedures.

The purpose of the initial responder at the operations level is to protect life, property, or the environment from the effects of the release, not stop the release. According to OSHA, first responders at the operational level are those individuals who initially respond to hazardous substances releases. Employees, who may be exposed to hazardous substances, including hazardous waste, are required to be Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) certified.

Any employee engaged in one of the following operations is required to be HAZWOPER trained per 1910.120 and 1926.65:

  • Cleanup operations, required by a governmental body, whether federal, state, local, or other involving hazardous substances that are conducted at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
  • Emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard.
  • Corrective actions involving clean-up operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) as amended (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.).
  • Voluntary cleanup operations at sites recognized by federal, state, local, or other governmental body as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
  • Operations involving hazardous wastes that are conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal facilities regulated by Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 264 and 265 pursuant to RCRA, or by agencies under agreement with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement RCRA regulations.

Initial responders are trained to respond in a defensive fashion without actually trying to terminate the release. Their function is to contain the release from a safe distance, keep it from spreading, and prevent exposures. Properly trained emergency response personnel should then continue the response effort. Events that may require outside emergency assistance may include, but are not limited to:

  • An uncontrolled release of a hazardous material
  • Fire
  • Explosion
  • Serious injury or illness
  • Potential risk of exposure to blood borne pathogens

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for Effective Exercises.

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Tags: Training and Exercises, Event Preparedness, Safety, Workplace Safety

The Tabletop Exercise and Emergency Response Plan

Posted on Mon, Mar 11, 2013

Tabletop exercises are a cost-effective, discussion-based training method in which response team members collaborate and communicate assigned roles, responsibilities and required actions in response to one or more emergency scenarios. A facilitator guides participants through a discussion of one or more scenarios with the goal of strengthening the overall response plan and review associated response procedures.

Increased personnel responsibilities, reduced staffing, and cost constraints make it challenging to ensure that effective exercises are conducted. The duration of a tabletop exercise depends on the expertise level of participants, the topic being exercised, and the exercise objectives. Many tabletop exercises can be completed in less than two hours, which allows the exercise to be a budget-friendly and a timely approach to validate plans and capabilities.

Tabletop exercises are effective for new or inexperienced team members. It allows managers and responder to assess internal and external competency levels and build team relationships in a low-stress environment. It may be beneficial for inexperienced or new response team members if the exercise focuses on the incident command process, communications protocols, forms, meeting schedules, and other process elements.

A tabletop exercise should include:

  • Practical application of National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS)
  • Demonstration of a functional understanding of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and Incident Management Team (IMT) organizations.
  • Effective integration of common organization(s), and general responsibilities and expectation of the company
  • Demonstration of the ability to document and communicate actions, management decisions, and tracking resources using standardized Incident Command System (ICS) forms and the Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
Tabletop exercises may reveal shortcomings in preparedness planning and responder knowledge. Companies should review shortcomings to bolster and improve the effectiveness of the preparedness program. Areas to examine after a tabletop exercise is conducted include, but are not limited to:

1. Corporate Commitment

  • Establish enterprise-wide safety policies and encourage and empower employees to be active participants in sustaining and improving safety procedures.
  • Emphasize safety and regulatory compliance to protect employees and avoid financial losses.

2. Site Analysis

  • Examine unidentified potential work site hazards through employee feedback, thorough audits, and detailed inspections.

3. Task Analysis

  • Determine and possibly realign job specific methods and procedures for each employee’s duty to reduce or eliminate associated hazards.

4. Incident Prevention and Control

  • Schedule deadlines so that safety considerations are not compromised and procedures are followed.
  • Establish procedures for addressing unique circumstances and tasks NOT typically performed, yet could potentially occur.

5. Health, Safety and Environmental Training Program

  • Identify any new or additional training needed to correct or limit unsafe procedures or processes, or reflect new employee responsibilities.
  • Evaluate compliance of applicable government agency mandated safety training.

7. Incident Reporting and Post Incident Review

  • Understand requirements of mandated regulatory forms and assign or reinforce submission responsibilities.
  • Access incident reporting and documentation procedures for effectiveness
  • Review incident investigation methods regarding eyewitnesses, supervisor perspectives, and corporate assistance.

8. Emergency Response Planning

  • Review specific mandated plans, such as Emergency Action Plan, Fire Prevention Plan, Facility Response Plan, Fire Brigade and Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, etc.
  • Update procedures after exercise if required.

9. Risk Management

  • Review systematic application of management policies, procedures, and practices to be carried out by all management levels.
  • If applicable, establish new risk evaluation criteria, probability of incident, and potential consequences.
  • Monitor and review procedures for continuous improvement, effectiveness, control measures, and changing conditions.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for Effective Exercises.

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Tags: Testing, Training and Exercises, Event Preparedness, Workplace Safety

2013 Conferences Aim to Advance EHS Professional Development

Posted on Thu, Feb 28, 2013

Environmental management emerged as a profession in the 1970s, following the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As companies began limiting waste to prevent pollution, environmental engineer positions were created to adapt existing manufacturing systems. With the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, workplace safety and occupational health requirements established the need for dedicated environmental, health, and safety (EHS) personnel.

Over time, companies developed systematic ways of complying with environmental, health and safety regulations. In the 1990s, the advancements in data technology management allowed organizations to analyze operations. Companies began documenting key environmental and safety statistics, and examining the possibilities for improvement.  This environmental, health and safety program oversight created a new management role under the realm of EHS. The newly appointed leaders, who began their careers in one of the three sub-disciplines, started to create systems to drive EHS progress across all operations.

Today, EHS professionals are leading corporate efforts toward sustainability. Building on  decades of experience, EHS leaders are striving to meet this challenge while continuing to reduce the number of incidents across an enterprise. Through ongoing communication, collaboration and education, EHS professional can continue to advance preparedness and response, while fostering sustainability.

Below is a list of 2013 conferences for EHS professionals that can assist in enhancing company programs. (The list reflects statements from the conference presenters and should not be considered a TRP  endorsement.). Conferences include:

Spillcon 2013, the Asia-Pacific Oil Spill Preparedness Conference: April 8-12, 2013 (Cairns, Australia) - A key international platform, presented by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the Australian Institute of Petroleum, for discussing and sharing experiences on how to prevent and respond to oil spills and will focus on the delivery and exchange of practical and real-life information and dialogue. Spillcon 2013 operates in cooperation with the International Oil Spill Conference (IOSC) in the United States, and Interspill in Europe, each responsible for hosting an event once in a three-year cycle.

Continuity Insights Management Conference: April 22-24, 2013 (San Diego, CA) - A business continuity focused conference for senior-level managers offering a comprehensive educational programming, numerous networking opportunities, a review of the latest technologies and practices, additional certification and post-conference workshops, and much more.

CPM East (Continuity, Response Recovery): May 14-15, 2013 (Washington, D.C.) - A forum created to bring together government, the private sector, and first responders to share best practices for disaster recovery. Attendees are typically those responsible for preparing and planning for emergencies and operational disruptions. The conference offers opportunities and resources that encourage prevention, mitigation, and response collaboration between the private sector and federal, state and local governments.

The World Conference on Disaster Management: June 23-26, 2013 (Toronto, Canada) - Provides the opportunity to gain valuable education, training and best practices from world renowned experts regarding mitigation, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies and disasters. The 2013 WCDM conference sessions include topics covering business continuity, emergency management, crisis communications, and resilience.

Volunteer Protection Programs Participants’ Association: (VPPPA): August 26-29, 2013 (Nashville, TN) - Encourages and provides opportunities for EHS professionals to network, learn, and advance as leaders in occupational safety and health issues. Participants range from safety and health managers, employee safety team members, industrial hygienists, union representatives, consultants, environmental health specialists, and human resource managers Government agency representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Department of Energy (DOE) are also available for networking and education. In addition to the national conference, all VPPPA chapters host annual chapter conferences.

NAEM EHS Management Forum: October 23-25, 2013 (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) - The EHS Management Forum is the largest annual NAEM gathering for environmental, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability decision-makers. Peer-led interactive sessions and keynote presentations showcases best practices in EHS and sustainability management.

National Safety Council Congress and Expo: September 28 - October 4, 2013 (Chicago, IL) - In 2012, the National Safety Council celebrated one hundred years of safety commitment and progress as it marked a century since the first Safety Congress in 1912. This non-profit organization’s mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. For more than 100 years, professionals have turned to this event for industry-leading technology, education, networking opportunities. Attendees represent safety professionals from numerous industries including manufacturing, construction, petrochemical and utilities.

IAEM-USA 60th Annual Conference & EMEX 2013: October 25 - 30, 2013 (Reno, NV) - Partnering conference of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) and Emergency Management and Homeland Security (EMEX) that provides a forum for current trends and topics, information about the latest tools and technology in emergency management and homeland security, and advances IAEM-USA committee work. Sessions encourage stakeholders at all levels of government, the private sector, public health, and related professions to exchange ideas on collaborating to protect lives and property from disaster.  More than 2,500 participants are expected to attend this 61st conference.

Clean Gulf: November 12-14, 2013 (Tampa, FL) - Opportunity for companies, regulatory agencies, and associations involved in exploration, production, shipping, transportation or storage of petroleum, petrochemicals or hazardous materials to view the latest products, services and technologies, as well as hear about the latest trends and developments in the oil spill response industry. This event is co-located with the Deepwater Prevention & Response Conference.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: Conference, EHS, Training and Exercises, Event Preparedness

The Need for Common, Enterprise-Wide Response Plan Terminology

Posted on Mon, Feb 25, 2013

Within a company, the difficulty of managing regulatory compliance and response planning grows exponentially with the number of locations or facilities. A systemic understanding and management of business operations within the context of the organization’s culture, beliefs, mission, objectives, and organizational structure should be extended to emergency response planning. For program effectiveness and efficiency, enterprise-wide integration and coordination is necessary to manage multiple response planning functions. While the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Integration Center does not require plain language for internal operations, it strongly encourages the practice of everyday terminology and procedures that will need to be used in emergency situations.

Establishing consistent language across a company’s emergency management structure is critical to provide a common point of understanding. A company must limit the terminology disparities within the company’s emergency management framework in order to align common goals. The following FEMA definitions can serve as a guideline for establishing common company emergency management program language.

Enterprise Management – Enterprise-wide programs and structures, including Business Crisis and Continuity Management, should be aligned and integrated within the overall Enterprise Management structure.

Crisis Communication – All means of communication, both internal and external, used to organize, design, and deliver to support Crisis Management situations.

Risk Management – The synthesis of the risk assessment, business area analysis, business impact analysis, risk communication, and risk-based decision making functions to make strategic and tactical decisions on whether business risks should be ignored, reduced, transferred, or avoided.

Planning – The development of plans, policies and procedures to address the physical and/or business consequences of residual risks which are above the level of acceptance to a business, its assets and its stakeholders.  Planning should be based upon the results of risk management and within the overall context of enterprise management. For companies with multiple locations, each site’s plans should integrate within the overall enterprise management structure.

Program Implementation – The implementation and management of specific programs that support the Crisis, Emergency, and Continuity Management programs within the context of Enterprise Management. Such programs may include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical security
  • Cyber security
  • Business continuity
  • Environmental, health, and safety

Systems Monitoring – Measuring and evaluating program performance in the context of the enterprise as an overall system of interrelated parts.

Awareness/Training/Exercising – A tiered program used to develop and maintain individual, team and organizational awareness and preparedness.  This program can range from individual and group familiarization and skill based training, through full organizational exercises.

Incident Management – The management of operations, logistics, planning, finance, administration, safety, and information flow associated with the operational response to the consequences/impacts of an incident. Through technology, systems are now available that offer real-time incident management.

Incident Response – The tactical reaction to the physical consequences/impacts of an incident. Tactical reactions that support the economic viability of a business may include, but not limited to:

  • Protecting personnel and property
  • Situational assessments
  • Situational stabilization
  • Response operations

Business Continuity – The business specific plans and actions that enable an organization to respond to an incident in a manner such that business units, processes, and sub-functions are recovered and resumed according to a predetermined plan. The recovery efforts should be prioritized by critical function to the economic viability of the business.

Restoration and Transition - Plans and actions to restore and transition a business to “new normal” or “business as usual” operations following an incident.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Emergency Preparedness, Redundant Systems, Event Preparedness

Global Connectivity Creates Need for Business Continuity Planning

Posted on Thu, Jan 31, 2013

The World Economic Forum recently released Global Risks 2013, Eighth Edition detailing the greatest 50 global risks for 2013. The identified risks were analyzed from a survey of over 1000 experts from industry, government, and academia in terms of impact, likelihood and interconnections. The survey revealed that respondents see increased risks with a higher impact level than in previous years. While the growth of a global interconnected marketplace may be financially beneficial, it also appears to increase a company’s vulnerabilities to business continuity issues.

A sudden loss of critical and supporting business functions and resources can be detrimental to a business. Many of the risks in the latest edition are enhanced by this “hyper connected world”, yet all of the risks fall into one of the following five categories:

  1. Economic
  2. Environmental
  3. Geopolitical
  4. Societal
  5. Technological

Companies need to determine how these categorical risks can impinge on their daily site-specific business operations to determine the best antidote for disruption and/or potential failure.  Detailed and exercised business continuity planning minimizes business disruption and the potential for financial loss. However, identifying risks, examining potential threats, and incorporating the effects on these critical functions require budgeting and staffing.  Preparation for a disaster can maximize optimal business functionality, yet companies still do not budget accordingly.

Interim results of a Business Continuity Insights’ survey regarding business continuity trends for 2013 revealed that 84% of respondents’ businesses intended to change the way it manages business continuity. Many of the changes may come in the form of initial plan implementation, updates, or manner of accessibility (mobile internet connectivity).  The downside is that many of these businesses will not increase budgets allocated for emergency preparedness.

According to the January 2013 edition of ISHN Magazine, only 16% of environmental, health, and safety professionals will see a budget increase in 2013, leaving 84% with the stagnant or decreased budgets. The statistics go on to reveal that staffing will only increase 14% while responsibilities will increase 46%.  Unfortunately, changes are expected without an increased budget while studies reveal global risks and impact levels affecting continuity are increasing.

The Global Risk 2013 study revealed the following risks associated with each threat category (pg 46) and the likelihood of the event occurring over the next ten years. While some risks are a result of the global governmental landscape, the interconnectivity of the worldwide marketplace may result in affecting continuity of operations far from the incident site. This occurred when the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami affected automakers and electronic component production across many continents. Companies should utilize these finding to determine if their operations are at risk of the following:

  • Economic
    • Failure to address government debt
    • Severe income disparities and unemployment
    • Price fluctuations in critical commodities
  • Environmental
    • Governments, businesses and consumers fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand carbon sinks.
    • Increasing damage linked to greater concentration of property in risk zones, urbanization or increased frequency of extreme weather events.
    • Governments, businesses and consumers fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand carbon sinks.
  • Geopolitical
    • Weak or inadequate global institutions, agreements or networks, combined with competing national and political interests, impede attempts to cooperate on addressing global risks.
    • Terrorism: Individuals or a non-state group successfully inflict large-scale human or material damage.
    • Corruption: The widespread and deep-rooted abuse of entrusted power for private gain.
  • Societal
    • Water supply crisis: Decline in the quality and quantity of fresh water combine with increased competition among resource-intensive systems, such as food and energy production.
    • Failure to address both the rising costs and social challenges associated with population ageing.
    • Religious fanaticism: Uncompromising sectarian views that polarize societies and exacerbate regional tensions.
  • Technological
    • Cyber-attacks: State-sponsored, state-affiliated, criminal or terrorist cyber- attacks.
    • Data fraud/theft on an unprecedented scale
    • Critical system failures: Single-point system vulnerabilities trigger cascading failure of critical information infrastructure and networks.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: Business Risk, Redundant Systems, Emergency Management Program, Event Preparedness, Business Continuity Plan, Business Disruption

Off-season Emergency Planning Review: Hurricanes, Wildfires, Tornados

Posted on Mon, Jan 21, 2013

While the winter months take hold, companies should evaluate scenario specific emergency plans. Naturally occurring threats, such as wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes, typically do not occur in the winter months and planning for these events may not be on the list of top priorities. However, both large and small businesses can benefit from reviewing typical “seasonal” plans in the off-season to ensure mitigation measures and training efforts are carried out prior to the high-risk months. Companies should make every effort to verify contact information for both employees and response resources, and update pertinent site-specific policies and procedures.

For business continuity planning purposes, a business impact analysis (BIA) should be conducted prior to seasonal risks.  A BIA can identify key business process that may be interrupted during a natural disaster.  Once these processes are identified, planning can incorporate steps to limit the impact resulting from loss of facilities, infrastructure, personnel, or supply chain.

Below are planning review concepts and possible mitigation measures for three seasonal risks.

Hurricanes

  1. Review surroundings: Will your building(s) withstand potential hurricane winds and waves? 
  2. Review shutdown procedures and evacuation routes
  3. Identify and procure potential alternate location options and necessities for conducting critical business processes off-site
  4. Identify essential business records, and process for backup and redundancy
  5. Verify employee contact information, alternate contact information, and list potential evacuation locations
  6. Develop methods for employees to receive pertinent corporate information if evacuation is conducted
  7. Assign and train employees on hurricane related tasks.
  8. Obtain emergency equipment, such as generators, battery-operated radios, flashlights, lighting and additional batteries. Be prepared to acquire additional fuel prior to the storm.  
  9. Establish recovery contracts with suppliers.
  10. 10. Obtain materials to secure windows and brace doors. (If lumber is necessary, pre-cut wood to size, mark each panel/piece to identify location). 

Wildfire

  1. Cut back brush or vegetation that may be impeding on any structures on your property.
  2. Remove dead wood and combustible litter from the site.
  3. If possible, enclose the underside of eaves and decks with fire-resistant materials to keep out flying embers.
  4. Cover exterior vents with fire retardant mesh screens to prevent embers from entering building
  5. Develop, review, and share fire pre plans with local fire departments
  6. Train employees of fire prevention, evacuation procedures, and fire safety measures
  7. Identify on-site and external equipment resources, procuring contracts if necessary (fire trucks, Backhoe/Front end loader for cutting fire breaks)
  8. Check functionality of sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers
  9. Evaluate and maintain irrigation system
  10. 10.  If applicable, establish response team and train as necessary

Tornados

  1. Conduct tornado drills to ensure employees can locate and mobilize to designated shelter location(s)
  2. Establish news and weather monitoring methods
  3. Develop an emergency communication plan to relay specific expectations and responsibilities during the aftermath
  4. Be aware of the site specific dangers posed by wind from equipment and buildings
  5. Identify product release dangers and shutdown procedures
  6. Identify data backup and recovery procedures
  7. Identify and procure potential alternate location options and necessities for conducting critical business processes off-site.

Because nature is unprediatble, businesses should be prepared for natural events throughout the year. Any situation that may hinder a company's ability to access key infrastructure, such as headquarters and field offices, can benefit from scenario specific emergency plans, evaluations, and business continuity plans. The ability to identify, prioritize, and respond to natural disasters is critical for preventing the potential for large financial losses and damage to reputation.

For more information regarding Hurricane preparation, download the Corporate Hurricane Planning Checklist.

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Tags: Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Fire Preparedness, Event Preparedness, Extreme Weather, Tornado Preparedness

Inner-City Emergency Response Planning

Posted on Thu, Jan 10, 2013

Guest Blog contributed by Terry Strahan

There has been a number of emergency response situations located within major metropolitan areas in the past couple of years.  These urban events pose unique issues that are not common within typical emergency response scenarios. Traffic, storm sewers, complex drainage systems, unexpected release points, and the general public create additional obstacles for responders to navigate. There has been an outcry from local officials and the public for pipeline operators to be more aggressive in their approach to planning and responding to these types of inner-city scenarios. There have also been requests for pipeline operators to be more transparent in their response strategies. How pipeline operators are addressing these issues is a topic for discussion within many cities of all sizes in the United States.

Pipeline Operators go to great lengths in the emergency-planning phase to determine potential spill paths and impacts zones. But when it comes to inner-city responses, vital information that could have a major influence on how the emergency response is handled is not always shared. Storm sewers and drainage systems are typically complex networks of piping that lay beneath every city in America. Once a release of liquids or gas enters one of these systems, responders have no way of tracking its progress or determining an effective strategy for blocking the movement or distribution throughout the  system. As seen in the Salt Lake City incident in 2010, spilled product found its way into a city park in the middle of downtown. While spill modeling identified flow paths into Salt Lake City, not having maps of the underground storm sewer system prevented responders from having an effective spill response strategy. Operators and local officials need to work together with a common goal of determining how best to address this complex web of issues.

  • Operators should reach out to city and county officials to provide access to storm sewers and drainage system, for use in developing spill response plans
  • First Responders should team up with pipeline operators to participate in desktop scenarios and simulated spill response exercises in order to coordinate response efforts
  • Resource Pre-Planning should identify locations to best stage equipment for a more effective response
  • Identify Oil Spill Response Organizations (OSROs) ahead of time to prepare specialized resources and communicate Tactical Plan Overviews needed for proper deployment of these resources.

These are just a few of the action items that could impact the effectiveness of an Inner-City Spill Response. Site-specific considerations should be taken into account.

Federal, State, County and Local governments are weighting in on this topic with varying degrees of interest. While the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the driving force behind how federal laws are being enforced, actions by state and local officials could have a far more reaching effect on how to solve this issue.

Terry Strahan is the GIS Manager – Houston Operations at Morris P. Hebert, Inc. Terry has 20 years’ experience applying GIS technology to solving real-world problems in various fields, including Pipeline GIS Management and Environmental and Emergency Response and Gas, Electric and Landbase Data Management. He can be reach at 713-219-1470 ext. 4419.

For an understanding of the necessary elements in creating an effective fire pre plan, download our Fire Pre Planning Guide.

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Tags: Pipeline, Crisis Mapping, Crisis Management, Event Preparedness, Disaster Response

Training and Multiple Levels of Exercises in Emergency Management

Posted on Mon, Dec 03, 2012

Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) departments are required to, conduct and document response training and exercises to satisfy industry-specific regulations. Training and exercises should enhance specialized skills and knowledge to improve overall preparedness. Exercises and training are separate, yet coordinated methods that come together to achieve this common objective.

Training: an individual instructional component or instructor-led classroom-based activity with a focus on individual knowledge development sufficient to perform specific roles and undertake prescribed responsibilities.

Exercise: the activity of practicing roles, responsibilities, and/or procedures with a focus on development of individual skills and/or to test and identify deficiencies in plans and procedures.

Company emergency managers should aim to create an efficient method to track individual training needs and identify team members’ current qualifications. Through proper maintenance of a training portal, individuals will remain at peak optimal response capabilities. Training should include, but not be limited to:

  • Familiarization with Response Plan
  • 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

Training may include general employees at the first responder awareness level to the hazardous material specialist or incident commander level. Each company site may require specialized training depending on the current operations, location, and associated regulations.

The goal of the 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
  • Identification of action items
  • Operational response capabilities
  • Preparedness to respond to incidents, regardless of the threat or hazard.

To ensure employees and response personnel are prepared to respond to an incident in an efficient and effective manner, exercise guidelines should be established as minimum requirements within an emergency preparedness program. Management should ensure that:

  • All aspects of response plans are exercised annually with participation of the appropriate response, incident management, and support teams.
  • Each response plan component is exercised at more frequent intervals, as appropriate, to prepare for the main annual exercise.
  • Notification exercises for each team and response component are verified and practiced at least twice per year. This exercise should involve unannounced checks of the communication procedures, , equipment, and contact information.
  • National and local training and exercise requirements should be used to assess the overall preparedness of your response teams.

Companies should utilize the following full range of exercise activities in planning and executing the exercise program

Level 1 Tabletop Exercises: Useful for considering policy issues, and for building team relationships in a low stress environment.

  • Practice application of National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS)
  • Demonstrate a functional understanding of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and Incident Management Team (IMT) organizations.
  • Practice integration of Unified Common organization(s), and general responsibilities and expectation of the company
  • Demonstrate the ability to document and communicate actions, management decision, and track resources, using standardized Incident Command System (ICS) forms and the Emergency response Plan (ERP)

Level 2 Mobilization and/or Notification Exercise: Used to validate mobilization and response times, and verify internal/external notifications and contact information.

  • Practice and assess specific functional response elements
  • Validate response contractor equipment deployment response times
  • Practice and validate specific response procedures and locations

Level 3 Limited Exercises: Used to validate mobilization and response capabilities of specific team functions, and the status of integration and coordination among these groups and other company-based response organizations.

  • One or more teams
  • Optional external involvement
  • Scenario presented through both written materials and limited role-playing by simulators

Level 4 Full Scale Exercise: Full-scale exercises offer comprehensive validation of current emergency and crisis management system, and should demonstrate a degree of response integration throughout the system.

  • Expanded demonstration Crisis Management and Emergency Response capabilities
  • Promotes extensive comprehensive coordination and integration of capabilities
  • Maximize realism for participants with multiple realistic injects
  • Extensive use of controllers to ensure the exercise activity remains within intended parameters and to coordinate the scenario among multiple sites

For a free guide that details the world of HAZWOPER training, download A Guide to HAZWOPER Training.

HAZWOPER training guide

Tags: OSHA HAZWOPER, Resiliency, Regulatory Compliance, Event Preparedness, Workplace Safety

Incident Action Plans and the ICS Components

Posted on Mon, Oct 29, 2012

The incident action planning process should synchronize site-specific incident response operations and objectives based on the Incident Command System (ICS). The Incident Action Plan (IAP) should include predetermined activities or processes, repeated in each operational period, that provide a consistent rhythm and structure to the required incident management at the scene. With a detailed plan in place, response objectives can be met with the appropriate integrated incident response and coordinated operational support.

An incident is “an occurrence, natural or manmade, that requires a response to protect life or property.” - The National Incident Management System Glossary

The Incident Management Team must ensure that the IAP being developed meets the needs of the incident and the response objectives. Included in the IAP are ICS forms, a valuable resource for advancing a response to controlled conditions. However, leaders must be vigilant that these forms do not become the primary focus of the planning process, but rather a support tool that furthers the integration of a rational and effective planning process.

ICS forms are intended for developing IAPs, incident management activities, and for support and documentation of ICS activities. ICS forms are utilized to document many primary response components and provide the site-specific information utilized during a response. Personnel using the forms should have a basic understanding of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), including ICS, through training and/or experience to ensure they can effectively use and understand these forms.

ICS Forms used with IAP

The following ICS forms are typically included with an IAP. The information below includes the form identification number, the position responsible for form completion, and a summary of the form's objectives.

ICS Form-200: Action Plan Cover Page completed by Resource Status Unit Leader:

  • Identifies the ICS forms used in the IAP.
  • Incident Name
  • Date and time of operational period
  • Approval signature

ICS Form-202: Incident Objectives completed by the Incident Planning Chief:

  • Identifies overall general control objectives for the incident
  • May include general weather forecast for the specific operational period
ICS Form-203: Organization Assignment list completed by the Resource Unit Leader:
  •  Identifies list of assigned personnel for the following
    • Incident Command Staff
    • Agency representative
    • Planning Section
    • Logistics Section
    • Operations Section
    • Financial Section
    • Additional Divisions/Groups
    • Possible Air Operations

ICS Form-204: Assignment list completed by the Resource Unit Leader or Section Chief and Operations Section Chief:

  • Location of Assignments for current operational period
  • Operation Personnel Assigned
  • Nature of Operations
  • Special instructions
  • Group communications summary
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ICS Form-205: Incident Radio Communication Plan completed by the Communications Unit Leader:

  • Basic radio channel utilization
    • Channel
    • Function
    • Frequency/tone
    • Assignment

ICS Form-206: Medical Plan completed by the Medical Unit Leader:

  • Incident Medical Aid Station
  • Ambulance service
  • Hospitals
  • Paramedic availability
  • Medical emergency procedures

Other ICS Forms are utilized in the ICS process for incident management activities, but may not be included in the IAP. 

Once the IAP is complete with appropriate ICS form attachments, the plan should:

  1. Specify the objectives for the next operational period
  2. Define the work assignments for the next operational period, including extracts of site-specific safety messages (Note: the Site Safety Plan, ICS Form-208, is generally a stand-alone document which may or may not be included in the IAP)
  3. Define the resources needed for each operational period to reach objectives
  4. Depict organization of response personnel
  5. List radio and telephone communications for all incident personnel
  6. Specify a medical plan to follow in case of a responder emergency

Identify resources at risk: Possibly include a sketch or other graphics of situational and response status that may include trajectories, shorelines, or aerial view results 

Click the image below for a "A Step-by-Step Guide: Be Prepared for Your Next Incident"

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Incident Action Plan, Crisis Mapping, Crisis Management, Incident Management, Regulatory Compliance, Event Preparedness, Emergency Action Plan