Your Solution for SMART Response Plans

Working Safely at Plants + Refineries during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on Wed, Apr 15, 2020

Originally published on jensenhughes.com

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. One month later, there have been more than 1,000,000 cases confirmed with close to 50,000 deaths. With no signs of slowing down, companies are grappling with how to protect their employees and still perform critical operations.

As the war on COVID-19 unfolds, the value of a well-developed Pandemic Response Plan (PRP) is being fully realized. Some organizations are dusting off their Avian Flu (H5N1) plans and realizing that these plans may only be a starting point to reaffirm what operations are truly critical, and that stockpiles of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning materials need to be re-evaluated. Other companies — including refineries and plants — are scrambling to come to terms with their unique risks and are developing response tactics to protect their employees and deliver critical products and services.

In an ideal world, a PRP should have been developed, and materials should have been stockpiled and exercised during normal conditions prior to an outbreak. Whether or not you have a PRP in place, all companies should evaluate and examine ongoing pandemic risks and vulnerability factors to provide management and employees with critical knowledge, proactive procedures and necessary resources.

PRPs should focus on establishing a safe work environment, minimizing the spread of the disease, continuing critical business operations and ensuring the financial viability of the company.

Key Safety Practices for Industrial Plants and Refineries during COVID-19

For businesses in the critical infrastructure sectors such as industrial plants and refineries, the protection of essential workers required to perform operations that cannot be performed remotely is particularly challenging. The original design of the workspace or the requirement to interact with the general public will demand creative solutions to protect workers from becoming infected from each other or from their interaction with the general public. Some key preventative practices to maximize personnel safety include:

  1. Redesign work areas and break rooms to promote social distancing. When social distancing is not possible, such as when two or more people are working on a piece of equipment or riding together, ensure that they wear N-95 masks during that time.
  2. Redesign the product/service delivery process to protect personnel and customers.
  3. Defer/suspend access to the facility by non-essential contract service workers.
  4. Reduce the number of entrances to minimize staffing requirements and support consistent screening processes.
  5. Require that all non-critical and critical staff personnel that can work from home remain at home.
  6. Perform remote screening (although some personnel may be asymptomatic), for all persons before their planned entry to the facility to potentially reduce exposure to others. This screening may consist of completion of a standardized questionnaire asking if the person has symptoms and/or has had potential exposure to others with flu-like symptoms.
  7. In addition to remote screening, companies can use digital thermometers at entry points and implement random temperature testing during the shift to detect sick persons more quickly. It is important to ensure that persons responsible for administering temperature checks are wearing appropriate PPE.
  8. Increase frequency of cleaning common touch items/areas (e.g. doorknobs, countertops, light switches, elevator buttons, handrails, timeclocks, restrooms, breakrooms, etc.) to twice per shift.
  9. All persons confirmed to have an elevated temperature should be denied entry and informed to go home and contact their health care provider for further instructions.
    • Sending them to a medical facility is not recommended unless directed by their physician.
    • Require that personnel with flu-like symptoms or reporting close contact to a person exhibiting flu-like symptoms self-quarantine for 14 days unless testing reveals that they don’t have the virus.
    • For personnel confirmed to have flu-like symptoms, initiate a close contact tracing process to determine others that may be exposed.
  10. Reduce the frequency of shift changes and isolate contacts between primary and alternate critical staff members to minimize the potential of infection of the entire team.

Best Practices if Someone is Sick

If someone reports feeling sick while on-site:

  • Activate a response team wearing appropriate PPE (gloves, mask, and face shield) to initiate the exit process and clear co-workers from the area. Provide a mask to the symptomatic person(s) and escort them to exit with instructions to contact their health care provider.
  • Move co-workers from the immediate area to an alternate work area so that personnel can continue to perform critical work if decontamination of the primary area is required. If critical operations require utilization of the potentially contaminated workspace, furnish PPE to the minimal required staff required to continue operations while the space is being decontaminated.
  • Execute a contact tracing process and monitor personnel who had contact. Require that any symptomatic person self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to work.
  • Ensure that HIPPA compliance is maintained.
  • Activate a decontamination team to clean the person’s work area, restroom, and other areas that the person may have visited that day. Decontaminate the area using EPA approved cleaning materials, procedures and PPE. Once decontamination is complete, obtain certification from an industrial hygienist prior to re-opening the area for use without PPE.

As required by law, many industrial facilities and refineries already have emergency response plans in place and have the management systems and infrastructure to handle a variety of emergencies. However, organizations face unique risks and challenges to keeping their people safe while continuing operations during this COVID-19 crisis. We develop procedures on how to respond immediately, and protect your employees, assets and property. Learn more about how to keep your employees, operations and reputation safe from COVID-19. 

 

Tags: Pandemic Planning, Pandemic Plan

Business Continuity Planning During the Coronavirus

Posted on Fri, Mar 13, 2020


Originally published on jensenhughes.com

As (COVID-19) coronavirus seizes the world, the economy is grappling with how to respond to this growing threat. Businesses across the globe need to protect the health of their employees and minimize the impact to their business with robust business continuity planning.


What is Business Continuity Management?

At the highest level, a business continuity management program refers to the holistic management process that identifies potential threats to your company and helps you develop organizational resilience during and after an actual event.

There are various events, including the current coronavirus pandemic that can cause significant business disruptions. These disruptions may result in temporary or permanent loss of the critical requirements — including vital records, IT infrastructure and staff needed to execute business operations.

In order to protect a company’s viability, businesses can work to develop site-specific recovery strategies that focus on a disruption during a peak business cycle, when the services or output are at the highest level and most critical point.

Business Continuity Tools During Coronavirus

A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) enables a company to identify sites and business operations that, when absent, would impact profitability and threaten company survival. While the size and complexity of essential business elements required for sustainability vary among companies, the ability to quantify and prioritize critical business operations is a key business continuity element.

Completing a BIA will allow for each department within your organization to explain and discuss how the coronavirus, or another unexpected event, may affect their business function. Managers should also review the following business continuity planning elements for each critical business function:

  • Identify the duration and point in time when an interruption would impair critical processes and develop recovery time objectives.
  • Estimate the maximum allowable downtime for each specific business function.
  • Test work-from home bandwidth and feasibility.
  • Identify and implement actions to mitigate risk and develop tactical methods for continuing critical operations safely.
  • Develop training and exercises for Business Continuity Plan (BCP) personnel assigned to support the continuity of operations.

Site-Specific Responses and the Coronavirus

A BCP should include site-specific details that can direct critical process continuation and restoration. The following continuity plan components should be included in a site-specific BCP.

1. Plan distribution list: Names, addresses, and contact information of those that retain secure access to the BCP.

2. Key contacts and notification procedures: Identify all primary and secondary contacts that must be made aware of the interruption to your business. It’s important to routinely verify contact information for accuracy, and train personnel in BCP activation and notification procedures.

3. Key staff roles and responsibilities: Develop position-specific checklists and procedures detailing responsibilities from business continuity implementation through recovery. Task teams should be formed, at a minimum, to cover each critical business process. Business Continuity Team structure, organization charts, and interfaces should be clearly communicated. It may be necessary to provide cross team training, in the event that primary team members are not available.

4. Off-site recovery location(s): Include address, contact information, available on-site equipment, and any necessary external equipment for effective operations.

5. Recovery action plan: Identify/develop incremental processes and procedures necessary to recover each critical business process. Response checklist timelines may include time increments such as 1st hour, 24-hours, 48 hours, one week, one month, and long-term recovery.

6. Customer data: Identify communication methods and necessary contact information in order to inform customers of disruptions of deliverables. Effective customer relations and communication may be critical in retaining clients and maintaining positive relationships during a business interruption.

7. Critical vendor and supplier contact list: Identify contact information of vendor and supplier dependencies and interdependencies. Transportation delays or events at suppliers’ locations could affect delivery times; therefore the plan should address this issue.

8. Alternate critical vendor and supplier list: Supply chain failures, like the ones we’re seeing across the world due to the coronavirus can be crippling to key business components. Through the planning process, alternate vendor and suppliers should be explored, and contact information and materials should be documented in order to reduce the impact of primary suppliers’ disruption.

9. Documentation and Insurance details: Identify details of insurance coverage and accurate contact information. The burden of proof when making claims typically lies with the policyholder. Accurate and detailed records are imperative. Documentation forms should be made available to all critical business unit leaders for timely documentation.

10. Technology requirements: Identify necessary hardware and software, and the minimum recovery time requirements for each critical business process.

11. Backup data details: Your plan should identify details of data backups and recovery methods (Recovery Time Objectives). If current backup procedures are questionable, mitigation measures should be evaluated prior to a business disrupting event.

12. Equipment requirements: Identify equipment requirements for each business unit, primary and alternate suppliers, and recovery time goals.

13. Review and revise: On an annual basis, or when a significant change occurs in organization structure, process flow or technology, or following an incident, incorporate newly identified hazards and vulnerabilities and mitigation processes into the business continuity plan. Include revisions in critical staff, facilities, IT requirements, vendors and suppliers and vital records.

While many countries are focused on ensuring consistent public health services, there is still a responsibility for businesses to mitigate the risks that the coronavirus poses to its employees, stakeholders and customers. BCPs allow businesses to plan, prepare and respond if the pandemic becomes more severe.

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Pandemic Planning, Pandemic Plan, Business Continuity Plan

Pandemic Planning in a Global World

Posted on Thu, Feb 25, 2016

Since the World Health Organization has declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus an international public emergency, employers should ensure prevention and response procedures are in place to minimize its spread. With reports of Zika virus infections on the rise, corporations are grappling with how to handle jobs and projects in the growing number of affected regions.

As global epidemics continue to garner the attention of corporate emergency managers, well-developed Pandemic Response Plans (PRPs) should be established and implemented, as necessary. “Best practices” dictates that PRPs, like emergency plans, should be developed during normal conditions, prior to any threatened outbreak. However, companies with global operations or multinational interactions should re-evaluate and examine ongoing pandemic risks and vulnerability factors in order to provide employees with:

  • Critical knowledge
  • Proactive procedures
  • Necessary resources 

Companies doing business in affected pandemic areas should look to their PRP to establish a safe work environment, minimize the spread of the pandemic, and preserve business continuity. Specifically, the purpose of a PRP is to:

  • Identify how additional resources and personnel will be made available to support the organization.
  • Identify how internal and external communications will be maintained.
  • Identify how the reputation impact will be managed during and after the outbreak.
  • Identify how the technical and commercial implications of the outbreak will be managed, and where in the organization this support will be obtained.

The PRPs should document procedures and methods to minimize exposures and sustain critical business functions with reduced staffing throughout different stages of the outbreak. When developing the plan, it is useful to define impact levels for the various stages.

Level 1 - Normal Operations

  • Establish contact verification and notification measures with employees and key stakeholders (both internal and external)
  • Determine if PRP implementation is necessary if normal management procedures can manage the incident
  • Conduct briefings, promote awareness, and educate employees on pandemic
  • Determine and validate current priority projects and processes to determine which to suspend, if necessary
  • Direct staff to maintain and backup all business information and working files (data and documents) so that content is accessible to alternates and other staff members as necessary
  • Acquire necessary equipment to enable key staff to work from home , if needed

Level 2 - Heightened risk and modified PRP activation

  • Notify staff members of PRP activation and revised operational procedures.
  • Staff may be directed to work from remote locations or minimize travel to impacted areas, if feasible
  • Maintain tracking of all staff, assess well-being of staff, and identify any additional needs for support and/or resources
  • Direct staff to maintain and backup all business information and working files (data and documents) so that content is accessible to alternates and other staff members

Level 3 - Business as usual with limited on-site staff

  • Only essential employees who cannot work remotely would report on-site
  • Determine and validate current priority projects and processes to determine which to suspend, if necessary
  • Review and establish guidelines for backfilling resources, including leadership
  • Confirm availability of local and/or remote alternates for critical roles
  • Maintain tracking of all staff, assess well-being of staff, and identify any needs for support and/or resources
  • Direct staff to maintain and backup all business information and working files (data and documents) so that content is accessible to alternates and other staff members

Level 4 - Emergency Service Level with normal levels of operation with minimized staffing

  • Notify internal and external entities with dependencies on critical business operations.
  • Re-evaluate current priority projects and processes to determine which to suspend, if necessary
  • Proactively notify corporate executives, team leads, and other contacts of availability and work location, and maintain out of office phone, e-mail notices, and calendars, as appropriate.
  • Distribute peripherals (e.g. external disk drives) for home use and distribute as needed
  • Direct all non-essential staff to work at home, if possible.

Level 5 - Suspend all non-critical operations examine critical business processes

  • Maintain tracking of all staff, assess well-being of staff, and identify any needs for support and/or resources
  • Implement modified operations schedule with critical staff. Excuse non-essential staff and place on standby.
  • Maintain critical staffing levels and engage emergency contractors
  • Secure facilities

Level 6 - Return to normal operations after situational assessment

  • Communicate resuming operations date with employees and key stakeholders
  • Review time records and pay overtime as required
  • Update and archive file directories, if necessary
  • Update Pandemic Response Plans, as necessary

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Pandemic Planning, Pandemic Plan

Preparedness, Planning, and Pandemic Plans

Posted on Thu, Feb 06, 2014

According to historians, the 1918 “Spanish Flu” pandemic, which killed nearly 50 million people worldwide, may have originated from emigrating Chinese laborers. According to a study published in The Lancet, a pandemic similar to the one that occurred in 1918 would kill nearly 62 million people today.

In recent weeks, China has seen a spike in H7N9 cases and experts are worried that infections will continue to rise. The World Health Organization warned the H7N9 virus was one of the most lethal that doctors and medical investigators had faced in recent years. Just as in 1918, the threat of a pandemic is real.

As seen throughout history and most recently with the 2009 H1N1 virus, a pandemic threat can impact all aspects of society and its economy. It creates uncertainty and breeds fear. A pandemic’s geographic target, demographic impacts, rate of occurrence, and number of fatalities vary with each strain. However, proactive measures, such as preparedness, can diminish general uncertainties and allows for an established plan to counteract specific threats. In the event that a health crisis emerges, pandemic and business continuity plans can work in conjunction to maximum the potential of continuity of operations. The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to emphasize the need for preparedness measures in regards to pandemic planning.

In 2012, WHO published an article entitled “Cost–Effectiveness Analysis of Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: What’s Missing?”. The article concluded that impoverished countries, non-pharmaceutical interventions, health system capacity, and pandemic uncertainty are the trigger elements for lack of pandemic preparedness. The paper continues to say “as the control of communicable disease progresses, preparedness measures for epidemic events become increasingly important because the decreased burden of communicable disease increases the number of susceptible individuals and hence the risk outbreaks.” Simply stated, pandemic preparedness is essential for minimizing the spread of viral outbreaks.

Companies can contribute to minimizing the spread of a pandemic. By documenting response plan procedures and methods specific to a pandemic outbreak among the local population and/or the local workforce/contractors, companies can minimize disruption to normal operations and further limit the viral spread.

Specifically, the purpose of a Pandemic Response Plan is to:

  • Identify how additional resources and personnel will be made available to support the organization.
  • Identify how internal and external communications will be maintained.
  • Identify how the reputation impact will be managed during and after the outbreak.
  • Identify how the technical and commercial implications of the outbreak will be managed, and where in the organization this support will be obtained.

When developing a Pandemic Response Plan, it is useful to define impact levels. Example Levels are as follows:

  • Level 1 - Normal Operations, which include contact verification with key stakeholder (both internal and external) and conducting pandemic plan briefings
  • Level 2 - Business as usual with staff directed to work from remote locations, if feasible
  • Level 3 - Business as usual with limited on-site staff.  (Only essential employees who cannot work remotely would report on-site)
  • Level 4 - Emergency Service Level with normal levels of operation with minimum staffing.
  • Level 5 - All non-critical operations are suspended and critical business processes are examined for those that can be suspended.
  • Level 6 - Return to normal operations after situational assessment.

As seen in 1918 and multiple times throughout history, global trade and interconnectivity have social and economic impacts. Despite the advantages of a globally connected world, a preparedness program should address the multiple threats that go hand-in-hand with interconnectivity dependencies, including the potential for a pandemic.

For a free download on Designing a Crisis Management Program, click the image belowTRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Resiliency, Emergency Preparedness, Business Risk, Response Plans, Pandemic Plan