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 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.
- 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
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
- 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: