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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

NTSB Advocates Pipeline Safety

Posted on Mon, Jan 14, 2013

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is pushing pipeline safety to the forefront its advocacy priorities for 2013.  Although transporting petroleum products through pipelines is safer than trucking, proactive corporate safety, emergency planning, and maintenance programs are required to continually improve pipeline infrastructures, identify potential threats, and improve the overall state of the current U.S. pipeline system.

Pipeline safety should continue to improve as increased funding for advanced inspection protocols, vulnerability insights, operators’ efforts, and advanced technologies are embraced. Over the past few years, a series of pipeline incidents has made national headlines and garnered the attention of policy-makers. However, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) statistics show that the average number of serious incidents has declined since 1992.

Infrastructure-critical petroleum products continue to flow  through existing pipelines, while the construction of new pipelines increases steadily. In 2013, policy makers may make decisive actions on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline extension, which would transport crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline critics draw attention to the number pipeline accidents that occur every year and highlight recent pipeline accidents, blaming aging pipeline infrastructure and minimal external oversight. However, the age of a pipeline is not a true indicator of material integrity or impending failure. Pipeline failure is ultimately related to how the pipeline is/was constructed, maintained, and operated.

According to PHMSA:

  • 175,000 miles (12%) of onshore and offshore pipelines carry hazardous liquids
  • 321,000 miles of gas transmission and gathering pipelines (38%), both onshore and offshore
  • 2,035,253 miles of pipelines are dedicated to gas distribution mains and services
  • 24% of total energy consumption in the U.S. is distributed by natural gas pipelines
  • Petroleum pipelines distribute 39% of total energy consumption in the U.S.

By implementing and prioritizing mitigation and preparedness (the first two phases of emergency management), industry-wide pipeline incidents, despite age, can be minimized. Below are some of the PHMSA’s Office of Pipeline Safety supported mitigation and preparedness initiatives:

Mitigation

  • Expanding Integrity Management (IM) Protection reform
  • Valve Spacing & Remotely Operated/Automatically Operated Valves
  • Leak Detection Systems
  • Damage Prevention Programs, such as 811
  • Public Awareness pipeline safety messaging
  • Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA): aims to improve pipeline safety through implementation of recommended practices for risk informed land use and development planning.
  • Community Assistance and Technical Support (CATS): provides outreach to all pipeline safety stakeholders.
  • Stakeholder Communication Web Site

Preparedness

  • Pipeline Emergencies Training Program
  • National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS): consists of geospatial data, attribute data, public contact information, and metadata pertaining to the interstate and intrastate hazardous liquid trunk lines and hazardous liquid low-stress lines, gas transmission pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, and hazardous liquid breakout tanks jurisdictional to PHMSA.
  • Transportation Research Board (TRB) Project - A Guide for Communicating Emergency Response Information for Natural Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines.
  • Advisory notices as necessary to inform affected pipeline operators and Federal and state pipeline safety personnel of matters that have the potential of becoming safety or environmental risks.

For information about SPCC Plans, download TRP Corp's free SPCC and FRP Inspections guide.

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Tags: PHMSA, Pipeline, Redundant Systems, Oil Spill, Safety

Common Incident Command System Terminology

Posted on Mon, Nov 05, 2012

In spite of precautions and preventive measures, the onset of a crisis can be unpredictable.   The ability to effectively communicate incident details and response actions is the key to effective crisis management. 

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized management concept designed to enable an integrated response, despite its complexity, response demands, and jurisdictional boundaries. ICS establishes common terminology that allows diverse incident management and support organizations to work together across a wide variety of functions and scenarios. The ability to communicate effectively within the ICS among internal and external parties is critical.

To ensure the ability to communicate, commonly understood terminology is essential. A multi-agency incident response requires simple and parallel language. Communicating through unfamiliar company radio codes, agency specific codes, perplexing acronyms, or specialized jargon will disconnect and confuse employees, responders, and/or stakeholders, possibly prolonging a response.

Why Use Common ICS Terminology?

According to FEMA, common ICS terminology helps to define:

  • Organizational Functions: Major functions and functional units with incident management responsibilities are named and defined. Terminology for the organizational elements involved is standard and consistent.
  • Resource Descriptions: Major resources (personnel, facilities, and equipment/ supply items) are given common names and are "typed" or categorized by their capabilities. This helps to avoid confusion and to enhance interoperability.
  • Incident Facilities: Common terminology is used to designate incident facilities.
  • Position Titles: ICS management or supervisory positions are referred to by titles, such as Officer, Chief, Director, Supervisor, or Leader.

The three main elements of ICS communication include: 

  • Modes: The "hardware" systems that transfer information.
  • Planning: Planning for the use of all available communications resources.
  • Networks: The procedures and processes for transferring information internally and externally.
ICS_TRP.jpg

Common ICS Terms

Below is a list of commonly used ICS terms and their definitions. By understanding these elementary terms, employees, responders and stakeholders can overcome miscommunications and false interpretations of jurisdictional, multi agency and company vocabulary.
 
Incident Command Post: (ICP) The location from which the Incident Commander oversees all incident operations. There is generally only one ICP for each incident or event, but it may change locations during the event. Every incident or event must have some form of an Incident Command Post. The ICP may be located in a vehicle, trailer, tent, or within a building. The location should be outside of the hazard zone but close enough to the incident to maintain command. The ICP should be designated by the name of the incident (ex. Foxtrot Creek ICP).
 
Staging Areas:  Temporary locations at an incident where personnel and equipment are kept while waiting for tactical assignments. The resources in the staging area should maintain 

“available” status. Staging areas should be located close enough to the incident for a timely response, but far enough away to be out of the immediate impact zone. There may be more than one staging area at an incident.

Base: Location from which primary logistics and administrative functions are coordinated and administered. The base may be co-located with the Incident Command Post. There should only be one base per incident, and it is designated by the incident name. The base is established and managed by the Logistics Section. The resources in the base are always “out-of-service” until relocated to the staging areas.

Camp: Location where resources may be kept to support incident operations if a base is not accessible to all resources. Camps are temporary locations within the general incident area. They should be equipped and staffed to provide food, water, sleeping areas, and sanitary services. Camps are designated by geographic location or number. Multiple camps may be used, but not all incidents will have camps.

Helibase: Location from which helicopter-centered air operations are conducted. Helibases are generally used on a more long-term basis and include such services as fueling and maintenance.

Helispots: Temporary locations at the incident, where helicopters can safely land and take off. Multiple helispots may be used.

Tactical Resources: Available or potentially available personnel and major items of equipment to support the Operations function on assignment to incidents.

Support Resources: All other resources required to support the incident. This may include:

  • Food
  • Communications equipment
  • Tents
  • Supplies
  • Fleet vehicles

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Tags: Crisis Management, Incident Management, Redundant Systems, Training and Exercises, Emergency Management Program, Notification Systems

Resource Management in Emergency Planning and Response

Posted on Mon, Jul 16, 2012

Managing personnel, specialized teams, equipment, and supplies are an intricate part of response planning and incident management, yet these critical details are often overlooked. Resource management procedures should be included as an element of a response plan and have the flexibility and depth to address uncertainties associated with responses.

Effectively incorporating company, contracted, and public resources into an emergency management program can streamline a multifaceted response, resulting in a more effective and timely effort. If managed properly, available resources can also reduce potential business continuity vulnerabilities.

According to NIMS' Resource Management Planning, resources typically fall into seven general groupings:

  • Personnel: Includes emergency operations center staff and onsite responders.
  • Facilities: Includes emergency operations center, field command posts, and staging areas.
  • Equipment: Includes equipment required for PPE, personnel support, communications, response operations, and emergency operations center support.
  • Vehicles: Includes automobiles, trucks, buses, and other vehicles required for transportation, emergency medical, and response operations.
  • Teams: Includes specially trained and equipped responders and management personnel.
  • Aircraft: Includes aircraft for surveillance, medical evacuation, or cargo transportation operations.
  • Supplies: Includes a wide range of materials from potable water to plywood.

NIMS recommends the following resource management practices be incorporated into an response plan for implementation during future response operations:

1. Identify: Identify what equipment is needed, where and when it is needed, and who will be receiving or using it. Some resources will be specific to one risk or consequence, while others may be useful for multiple risks or consequences.

2. Procure: Take into account lead-time required for resources that cannot be obtained locally.

3. Mobilize:  Plan transportation and logistics needs based on response priorities and equipment requirements to ensure timely arrival of necessary equipment.

4. Track and report:  Identify specific location of resources on a continual basis in order to assist staff in preparing to receive resources, to ensure safety and security of equipment and to ensure efficient use, coordination, and movement of equipment.

5. Recover and demobilize: Ensure timely demobilization of equipment, including decontamination, disposal, repair, and restocking activities, as required.  This step pertains to both expendable and nonexpendable resources.

6. Reimburse:  Ensure that a mechanism is in place to track costs and provide timely payment for incident expenses, including contractors, equipment, transportation services, and other costs.  .

7. Inventory and Replenish: Utilize a resource inventory system or equipment checklist to assess the availability of on-site equipment and supplies. Procure additional resources as needed to be prepared for future events. Consider lessons learned from previous responses to assess on-site requirements.

Through concepts listed TRP's free downloaded corporate hurricane checklist, companies can begin to understand the resources necessary to respond to a significant weather event. 

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Tags: Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Power Failure, Redundant Systems, Training and Exercises, Event Preparedness

14 Elements that Strengthen the Incident Command System Structure

Posted on Thu, Jul 12, 2012

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a widely applicable management system designed to enable flexible, effective, efficient all-hazards incident management.  By integrating a common and unified emergency planning organizational structure, response operations can be streamlined and coherent. 

According to FEMA, “ICS is based on the following 14 proven management characteristics that contribute to the strength and efficiency of the overall system”.  A company should incorporate these management characteristics into every aspect of an emergency management program.

The 14 management characteristics include:

1. Common terminology:  Establish common terminology amongst company facilities and response groups. This allows diverse responders to work together across a wide variety of incident management functions and hazard scenarios.

2. Modular organization: Identify a response organizational structure based on the incident, hazardous effects, size, and complexity. As an incident complexity increases, the organization expands from the top down as functional responsibilities are delegated

3. Management by objectives: Establish specific, measurable objectives for various incident management functional activities and direct efforts to attain them. Planning should allow for a timely response, documentation of the results, and a way to facilitate corrective actions.

4. Incident action planning: Incident Action Plans (IAPs) guide response activities, and provide a concise means of capturing and communicating a company’s incident priorities, objectives, strategies, protocol, and tactics in the contexts of both operational and support activities.

5. Manageable span of control: Supervise, communicate, and manage all resources using ICS recommended  span of control, which  should be limited to three to seven immediate subordinates, with the optimum being five. The number may vary depending on the needs of the company and specifics of the incident.

ICS.jpg

6. Incident facilities & locations: Identify various external operational support facilities in the vicinity of an incident for assistance.

7. Comprehensive resource management: Maintain an accurate and up-to-date picture of available resources.

8. Integrated communications:  Develop, comprehend, practice, and use an interoperable communications plan and streamlined procedures.

9. Establishment and transfer of command: Clearly identify and establish the command function  from the beginning of incident operations. If command is transferred during an incident response, a comprehensive briefing should capture essential information for continuing safe and effective operations.

10. Chain of command and unity of command: Identify clear responsible parties and reporting relationships, eliminating confusion caused by multiple, conflicting directives and authorities.

11. Unified command: Unified command allows agencies with different legal, geographic, and functional authorities to work together effectively without affecting individual agency authority, responsibility, or accountability.

12.  Accountability: Develop process and procedures to ensure resource accountability including: check-in/check-out, Incident Action Planning, unity of command, personal responsibility, span of control, and resource tracking.

13. Dispatch/deployment: Limit overloading response resources by enforcing a “response only when requested or dispatched” process in established resource management systems.

14. Information and intelligence management: The incident management organization must establish a process for gathering, analyzing, assessing, sharing, and managing incident-related information and intelligence.

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

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Tags: Resiliency, Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, Incident Management, Redundant Systems, Training and Exercises