An emergency only takes seconds to escalate. At the very least, each company facility or site should develop and implement an emergency plan for protecting employees, visitors and contractors. Whether the plan is mandated by corporate policy or regulatory agencies, a widely accessible workplace emergency plan can maximize response efficiencies and minimize impacts of the emergency on employees, the environment, and infrastructure.
FEMA identifies five mission areas that can serve as a basic understanding of the emergency management process. These areas include:
- Prevention: Prevent, avoid, or stop an imminent, threatened or actual act.
- Protection: Protect employees, citizens, residents, visitors and assets against threats and hazards.
- Mitigation: Reduce the loss of life and property by lessening risks, threats, and impacts.
- Response: Respond efficiently to save lives, protect property, and the environment, and meet basic human needs in the aftermath of a catastrophic incident.
- Recovery: Recover through a focus on the timely restoration, strengthening and revitalization of infrastructure, sustainable operations, as well as the health, social, cultural, historic and environmental fabric of communities affected by a catastrophic incident.
For companies with multiple sites, an enterprise-wide template can streamline formats and serve as an outline for company-mandated information and regulatory compliance content. However, each location’s plan should contain site-specific details that are unique to the facility and can possibly affect the response. A customizable, secure, web-based template with a database of common company planning information allows each site to provide facility-specific compliance data, as well as the precise information required to assist responders in determining the best response for the specific scenario.
To help you develop a general outline that can be used to guide your response planning agenda, Ready.gov offers the following guidance.
- Identify Objectives: Review preparedness and response planning performance objectives for your company or site’s program. Objectives may include regulatory compliance, hazard prevention/deterrence, risk mitigation, emergency response and business continuity.
- Perform a Risk Assessment: Review hazard or threat scenarios identified during a risk assessment.
- Identify Response Resources: Identify the availability and capabilities of resources to help stabilize the situation including people, systems and equipment within your facility, as well as external sources.
- Create Incident Management Team: This requires response plan knowledge, role specific training, and an effective synergy between team members and external responders.
- Evaluate Applicable Regulations: Determine which response planning regulations pertain to your facility and how you can ensure compliance within your site-specific plan.
- Develop Protective Action Response Procedures: Evaluate and include life protective action procedures such as evacuation, shelter, shelter-in-place, lockdown.
- Establish Hazard-Specific Response Procedures: Depending upon the response planning structure and required content, hazard-specific information may be either included within the response plan or created as a separate stand-alone plan.
- Coordinate with public emergency services: Work with public emergency services such as fire, police, HAZMAT teams and emergency medical services to share knowledge of your facility and its hazards, understand their capabilities to stabilize an emergency, and determine their response time to your facility that would be needed to stabilize incidents at your facility.
- Emergency Response Training: Training is essential so that everyone on site knows what to do in an emergency or disruption of business operations. Training should include, but not limited to
- Response plan familiarization
- 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
- Response Drills and Exercises: Corporate preparedness drills and exercises, which may include fire and evacuation drills, should be designed to test response plan components and participants’ knowledge of expectations and required duties to deploy response strategies and tactics, and restore operations.