A step-by-step approach to emergency planning, response and recovery for companies of all sizes. Sponsored by a Public-Private Partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
A hurricane blasts through South Florida causing more than $25 billion in damages. A fire at a food processing plant results in 25 deaths, a company out of business and a small town devastated. A blizzard shuts down much of the East Coast for days. More than 150 lives are lost and millions of dollars in damages incurred.
Every year emergencies take their toll on business and industry -- in lives and dollars. But something can be done. Business and industry can limit injuries and damages and return more quickly to normal operations if they plan ahead.
To begin, you need not have in-depth knowledge of emergency management. What you need is the authority to create a plan and a commitment from the chief executive officer to make emergency management part of your corporate culture.
What Is an Emergency?
An emergency is any unplanned event that can cause deaths or significant injuries to employees, customers or the public; or that can shut down your business, disrupt operations, cause physical or environmental damage, or threaten the facility's financial standing or public image. Obviously, numerous events can be "emergencies," including:
The term "disaster" has been left out of this document because it lends itself to a preconceived notion of a large-scale event, usually a "natural disaster." In fact, each event must be addressed within the context of the impact it has on the company and the community. What might constitute a nuisance to a large industrial facility could be a "disaster" to a small business.
What Is Emergency Management?
Emergency management is the process of preparing for, mitigating, responding to and recovering from an emergency.
Emergency management is a dynamic process. Planning, though critical, is not the only component. Training, conducting drills, testing equipment and coordinating activities with the community are other important functions.
Making the "Case" for Emergency Management
To be successful, emergency management requires upper management support. The chief executive sets the tone by authorizing planning to take place and directing senior management to get involved.
When presenting the "case" for emergency management, avoid dwelling on the negative effects of an emergency (e.g., deaths, fines, criminal prosecution) and emphasize the positive aspects of preparedness. For example:
4 STEPS IN THE PLANNING PROCESS
STEP 1 -- ESTABLISH A PLANNING TEAM.
There must be an individual or group in charge of developing the emergency management plan. The following is guidance for making the appointment.
Determine who can be an active member and who can serve in an advisory capacity. In most cases, one or two people will be doing the bulk of the work. At the very least, you should obtain input from all functional areas. Remember:
Have participants appointed in writing by upper management. Their job descriptions could also reflect this assignment.
Define the purpose of the plan and indicate that it will involve the entire organization
Define the authority and structure of the planning group
STEP 2 -- ANALYZE CAPABILITIES AND HAZARDS.
This step entails gathering information about current capabilities and about possible hazards and emergencies, and then conducting a vulnerability analysis to determine the facility's capabilities for handling emergencies.
Where Do You Stand Right Now?
Review Internal Plans and Policies
Documents to look for include:
Identify Codes and Regulations. Identify applicable Federal, State and local regulations such as:
Identify Critical Products, Services and Operations
You'll need this information to assess the impact of potential emergencies and to determine the need for backup systems. Areas to review include:
Identify Internal Resources and Capabilities
Resources and capabilities that could be needed in an emergency include:
Identify External Resources
There are many external resources that could be needed in an emergency. In some cases, formal agreements may be necessary to define the facility's relationship with the following:
Do an Insurance Review
Meet with insurance carriers to review all policies. (See Section 2: Recovery and Restoration.)
Conduct A Vulnerabilty Analysis
The next step is to assess the vulnerability of your facility -- the probability and potential impact of each emergency. Use the Vulnerability Analysis Chart in the appendix section to guide the process, which entails assigning probabilities, estimating impact and assessing resources, using a numerical system. The lower the score the better.
List Potential Emergencies
In the first column of the chart, list all emergencies that could affect your facility, including those identified by your local emergency management office. Consider both:
Below are some other factors to consider:
Historical - What types of emergencies have occurred in the community, at this facility and at other facilities in the area?
Geographic - What can happen as a result of the facility's location? Keep in mind:
Technological - What could result from a process or system failure? Possibilities include:
Human Error - What emergencies can be caused by employee error? Are employees trained to work safely? Do they know what to do in an emergency? Human error is the single largest cause of workplace emergencies and can result from:
Physical - What types of emergencies could result from the design or construction of the facility? Does the physical facility enhance safety? Consider:
Regulatory - What emergencies or hazards are you regulated to deal with?
Analyze each potential emergency from beginning to end. Consider what could happen as a result of:
In the Probability column, rate the likelihood of each emergency's occurrence. This is a subjective consideration, but useful nonetheless.
Use a simple scale of 1 to 5 with 1 as the lowest probability and 5 as the highest.
Assess the Potential Human Impact
Analyze the potential human impact of each emergency -- the possibility of death or injury.
Assign a rating in the Human Impact column of the Vulnerability Analysis Chart. Use a 1 to 5 scale with 1 as the lowest impact and 5 as the highest.
Assess the Potential Property Impact
Consider the potential property for losses and damages. Again, assign a rating in the Property Impact column, 1 being the lowest impact and 5 being the highest. Consider:
SIDE BAR - A bank's vulnerability analysis concluded that a "small" fire could be as catastrophic to the business as a computer system failure. The planning group discovered that bank employees did not know how to use fire extinguishers, and that the bank lacked any kind of evacuation or emergency response system.
Assess the Potential Business Impact
Consider the potential loss of market share. Assign a rating in the Business Impact column. Again, 1 is the lowest impact and 5 is the highest. Assess the impact of:
Assess Internal and External Resources
Next assess your resources and ability to respond. Assign a score to your Internal Resources and External Resources. The lower the score the better.
To help you do this, consider each potential emergency from beginning to end and each resource that would be needed to respond. For each emergency ask these questions:
Do we have the needed resources and capabilities to respond?
Will external resources be able to respond to us for this emergency as quickly as we may need them, or will they have other priority areas to serve?
If the answers are yes, move on to the next assessment. If the answers are no, identify what can be done to correct the problem. For example, you may need to:
Add the Columns
Total the scores for each emergency. The lower the score the better. While this is a subjective rating, the comparisons will help determine planning and resource priorities -- the subject of the pages to follow.
SIDE BAR - When assessing resources, remember that community emergency workers -- police, paramedics, firefighters -- will focus their response where the need is greatest. Or they may be victims themselves and be unable to respond immediately. That means response to your facility may be delayed.
Copyright ©2000-2019 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).