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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

Supplemental Response Planning for Specific Threats

Posted on Thu, Feb 20, 2014

Every crisis situation and required response is unique. Comprehensive, compliant, and functional response plans should be created to address a broad scope of planned responses for a variety of probable emergency and crisis situations. However, if a facility has a high-risk potential for a specific scenario, supplemental response plans can be added to the overall emergency management program.

Incident-specific supplemental response plans should include many of the same details of an all-inclusive response plan including, but not limited to:

  • Details of hazard-specific location(s)
  • Evacuation routes
  • Plot Plans
  • Specific provisions and protocols for warning employees, the public, and disseminating emergency information
  • Personal protective and response equipment, and detection devices
  • Policies and processes for each specific hazard
  • Roles and responsibilities

Supplemental plans should be aligned with company protocols, site-specific personnel details, and specialized training and exercise programs. Below are examples of potential supplemental response plans that can be added to a preparedness program.  

Fire Pre Plans: Fires cause billions of dollars in property damage and unnecessary deaths and injuries every year. Fire pre plans address site-specific information necessary to effectively fight a fire and limit exposures. Despite the response situation or circumstances, a fire pre plan form should include, but is not limited to the following:

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

If applicable, specific chemical and hazardous details in regards to particular buildings, tanks, and/or process units, and the necessary foam requirements should be included in fire pre plans.

Hurricane Plans: If a site is located in a hurricane-prone area, conducting a business impact analysis prior to hurricane season can identify key process that may be interrupted during and after a hurricane. Once these processes are identified, hurricane planning can incorporate steps to limit the impact resulting from loss  of facilities, infrastructure, personnel, or supply chain. Below are some areas to consider when developing hurricane response plans:

  • Preparedness and response timeline
  • Structural integrity of the facility/location
  • Alternate location options
  • Records and software accessibility
  • Employee contact information
  • Communication methods
  • Dedicated hurricane response responsibilities
  • Equipment needs

A hurricane plan should include evacuation route maps or shelter in place areas. Evacuation routes and scope of evacuation may change depending on the location of the facility, potential storm intensity, forecasted path, or inherent risks.

Pandemic Plans: In the event that a health crisis emerges that affects the potential for continuity of operations, companies should establish a Pandemic Response Plan. A pandemic plan identifies how necessary resources and personnel can be optimized to support the organization, yet minimize the threat of mass contamination.

Pandemic response plans can define pandemic 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

Additional Natural Disasters: Natural hazards tend to occur repeatedly in the same geographical locations because of weather patterns or physical characteristics of an area. Depending on your specific location-based risks, the following hazards specific information may be developed as a supplemental plan:

  • Floods
  • Tornadoes
  • Thunderstorms and Lightning
  • Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
  • Extreme Heat
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanoes
  • Landslide and Debris Flow (Mudslide)
  • Tsunamis
  • Wildfires

Business Continuity Plans (BCP):  Any divergent situation may impact a company's optimal operational level. The primary purpose of a BCP is to minimize financial and operational impacts of a business interruption and to ensure ongoing viability. A BCP provides a mechanism for the continuity of, and safeguarding of key business interests, relationships, and assets. While a BCP cannot prevent occurrences from disrupting business operations, it can provide insight to mitigation opportunities, a focused plan to respond to incidents, maximize efficiency based on the given parameters, and a pathway of how to restore operations to normal productivity. The following are key concepts that should be considered when developing a BCP:

  • Identify business processes that are critical to your continued operation
  • Determine what personnel, software, and vendors are required to continue these processes
  • Identify alternate locations where these processes can be maintained in the event of a loss to critical facilities
  • Identify how communications will be maintained
  • Provide awareness and training for these identified personnel to support the continuity of operations
 
For a free download on Fire Pre Plans, click the image below:
TRP Corp Fire Pre-Plans Pre Fire Plan

Tags: Pandemic Planning, Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Fire Pre Plans, Fire Preparedness, Emergency Management Program, Business Continuity Plan, Tornado Preparedness

Viral Outbreaks, Pandemic Planning, and Business Continuity

Posted on Thu, Aug 30, 2012

On August 16, 2012, the city of Dallas declared a state of emergency over the West Nile virus, a disease spread by infected mosquitoes. As of August 21, 2012, the outbreak in Texas caused 19 deaths and 537 illnesses. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 1100 people and 41 deaths had resulted from this latest surge of West Nile Virus nationwide. The Dallas outbreak spurred officials to commence aerial pesticide spraying aiming to eradicate the local mosquito population, despite concerns from the public.

 “The risks of being harmed by these pesticides are not at all unreasonable.  Basically, in this case, I think the benefits of these sprays far, far outweigh the risk.” - Mike Raupp, of the University of Maryland College of Agriculture

To limit exposure to West Nile Virus, the CDC urges preventative measures such as bug repellent and eliminating extraneous standing water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Preventative measures can limit the implications of of an outbreak and minimize potential pandemic situations. 

Companies should also institute preventative measures to limit potential outbreaks through pandemic planning. Pandemic Response Plans (PRP) are a specific emergency response planning annexes that aim to establish and preserve business continuity in the event of a pandemic outbreak among the local population and/or the local workforce/contractors. The PRPs should document procedures and methods to sustain critical business functions with minimal staffing throughout different stages of an outbreak.

“Best practices” dictates that PRPs, like emergency plans, should be developed during normal conditions, prior to any threatened outbreak. When developing enterprise-wide PRPs, the procedures corresponding to the various outbreak impact levels would be incremental, building on the previous outbreak level.  Examples of level and procedures are as follows:

  • Level 1 - The outbreak is being controlled within the affected area with minimal hazard to personnel, property, process or the environment.
    • Establish contact verification and notification measures with key stakeholder (both internal and external)
    • Decide whether it is appropriate to progress to using the PRP or if normal management procedures can manage the incident
    • Conduct pandemic plan briefings and promote awareness
    • 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
    • Acquire necessary peripherals (e.g. external disk drives) for home use, if needed
  • Level 2 - The outbreak is contained but disturbs two or more critical areas affecting personnel, processes, or the environment beyond the origin.
    • Notify staff members of PRP activation
    • Contacts staff to inform them of the revised operational procedures. Staff may be directed to work from remote locations, if feasible
    • Maintain tracking of all staff, assess well-being of staff, and identify any needs for support.
    • 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 - The outbreak has escalated to a situation that is potentially dangerous to personnel, the surrounding community, and the environment. It would likely involve business as usual scenario 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 of resources and business group 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.
    • 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 minimum staffing. However, typical business operations can continue to function.
    • Notifies internal and external entities with dependencies on critical business operations.
    • Determine and validate 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 staff to work at home, if possible. Staff that are not able to work from home may work from the site, as necessary.
  • Level 5 - All non-critical operations are suspended and critical business processes are examined for those that can be suspended.
    • Maintain tracking of all staff, assess well-being of staff, and identify any needs for support. Confirm contact information through calling tree:
    • Implement modified operations schedule with critical staff.  Excuse non-critical staff and place on standby.
    • Maintain critical staffing levels and engaging emergency contractors.
    • Secure facilities
  • Level 6 - Return to normal operations after situational assessment.
    • Communicate resuming operations date with staff
    • Review time records and pay overtime as required
    • Update and archive file directories, if necessary
    • Update Pandemic Plans, as necessary

To limit business disruption from severe weather and HUrricane preparation, download the Corporate Hurricane Planning Checklist.

Hurricane Planning

Tags: Pandemic Planning, Business Continuity key points, Emergency Management, Incident Management, Workplace Safety, Business Disruption

Emergency Response Plan - Annexes for Added Incident Management

Posted on Mon, Aug 08, 2011

According to FEMA, the basic emergency operations plan should provide a broad scope of responses for potential emergency and crisis situations. Additional emergency response annexes that focus on hazard, threat, or incident-specific response needs can be added to broaden a site-specific basic plan to encompass the full range of hazards associated with a facility. These annexes contain unique and regulatory response details that apply to a single hazard, such as a pandemic response or hurricane plan. Depending upon the emergency operation plan’s structure and content amount, hazard-specific information may be included as either separate functional annexes or stand-alone hazard-specific annexes.

Hazard or incident-specific annexes should include many of the same details of the basic operations plan including, but not limited to:

  • Details of hazard-specific location(s)
  • Evacuation routes
  • Plot Plans
  • Specific provisions and protocols for warning employees, the public and disseminating emergency  information
  • Personal protective equipment and detection devices
  • Policies and processes for each specific hazard
  • Roles and responsibilities

Just as in the basic emergency operations plan, a planning team may use supporting documents as needed to clarify the contents of the incident specific plan. These supporting documents can include hazard specific aerial and facility maps, charts, tables, checklists, resource inventories, and summaries of critical information. For example, the hurricane plan may be made clearer by attaching maps marked with evacuation routes or shelter in place areas. Evacuation routes may change depending on the location or scale of the hazard.

Hazard-specific operational information usually includes, but is not limited to:

  • Assessment and control of the hazard information
  • Identification of unique prevention and preparedness of critical infrastructure/key resources
  • Protective actions
  • Communications procedures and warning systems
  • Implementation of protective actions
  • Identification of short-term stabilization actions
  • Implementation of recovery actions.

It is crucial to identify the critical functions necessary for a successful emergency response to a specific hazard in the planning development stage.  This may include identifying alternate communications methods in the event of a hurricane or pinpointing essential personnel to implement a pandemic plan. Hazard-specific annexes should follow the same layout and organizational format as the main operational plan to ensure consistency.

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

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Tags: Pandemic Planning, Fire Pre Plans, Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Security plans, Terrorism Threat Management, FEMA, Hurricane Preparedness, Flood Preparedness

Pandemic Planning allows for Business Continuity

Posted on Fri, Oct 01, 2010

Your Pandemic and Business Continuity Plans should be evaluated annually. With the flu season upon us, EHS professionals need to assess and fine tune pandemic planning and how it relates to their overall business continuity plan.

Whether in schools or corporate environments, a pandemic threat creates uncertainty and breeds fear.  During the upcoming 2010-2011 flu season, CDC expects influenza viruses and the 2009 H1N1 virus to continue to cause illnesses. However, just as we saw in 2009, new and resurgent flu strains can always appear in any given season.  Communities and corporations should prepare in the event that another health crisis emerges and create a plan that allows for continuity of operations.

A Pandemic Response Plan (PRP) should document procedures and methods in the event of a pandemic outbreak among the local population and/or the local workforce/contractors, resulting in disruption of normal operations.

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.

The best practice, as with other emergency plans, is to develop pandemic plans during normal conditions, prior to any threatened outbreak. Prior training on the pandemic plan allows for a complete understanding of expected behaviors and processes if an actual outbreak were to occur.

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

TRP Corp.

Tags: Pandemic Planning, Business Continuity key points, Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management