Chapter 6. Emergency Preparedness and Response

Even when you have considered all the risks and put the appropriate management programs in place, accidents and emergency situations can happen. Your business is a dynamic operation, and many things change from day to day – people go in and out of your workforce, materials and suppliers enter and exit your supply chain, facilities and equipment are added to and removed from your production line. A management system will help to maintain continuity and consistency throughout these changes. There may be a momentary lapse or gaps in the system (e.g. someone not properly trained, someone not following the procedures, a machine breakdown), or an external force that can lead to an accident or emergency situation at your facility (e.g. natural disaster). While it is not always possible to prevent such situations, you can be prepared to respond effectively to prevent and mitigate any harm to your workers, community and the environment.

The key to effective response is effective preparation. The following steps will help you to anticipate the possible scenarios and prepare accordingly:

•  Identify the areas where accidents and emergency situations may occur, and communities and individuals that may be impacted. This should begin during your overall risk and impact assessment, through your process analysis, physical mapping and consultations with workers, experts and the community.

•  Develop response procedures for each identified emergency situation that clearly explain what actions need to be taken. These need to be detailed clearly for everyone in your company to understand what he or she needs to do.

•  Provide the necessary equipment and resources to effectively implement the response plans. A stockpile of fire extinguishers does not put out fires, unless people can effectively find and use them when needed. Think about equipment that is easy for people to use and is located where it can be immediately accessed during accidents and emergencies.

•  Assign responsibilities so that each activity has people responsible for carrying it out. Also designate people who will routinely analyze how well the system is working and update the risk assessment and plans.

• Communicate so that everyone in your company understands the importance of the emergency preparedness and response system and is encouraged to help monitor and improve its effectiveness. Also include people in the community who may be affected.

• Provide periodic training so that everyone in your company has an overview of the system, and knows the response plans. Don’t just lecture about what to do – ask for input on what needs to be addressed and what can be improved. Even with the most detailed procedures and plans, people will need to exercise individual judgment and adapt to quickly changing situations. This is more likely to happen if you engage people in all aspects of the system beforehand.

• Work with government agencies and community groups to identify areas where you can collaborate to respond effectively to internal and external situations.

• Conduct periodic checks and drills to see how well the system is working and to re-assess the risks to reflect changing conditions. Incorporate your findings to continually improve your system.

• Remember, it is essential that the emergency response plan be site specific. Even if you have similar operations at two different sites, it does not mean that same emergency plan would be effective at both the locations. Emergency response plan at each site should be independently reviewed for its suitability and effectiveness.

An Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan should include:

• identification of potential emergencies based on hazard assessment;

• procedures to respond to the identified emergency situations;

• procedures to shut down equipment;

• procedures to contain and limit pollution;

• procedures for decontamination;

• procedures for rescue and evacuation, including a designated meeting place outside the facility;

• location of alarms and schedule of maintenance;

• list and location of equipment and facilities for employees responsible for responding to the emergency (fire-fighting equipment, spill response equipment, personal protection equipment for the emergency response teams, first aid kits and stations);

• protocols for the use of the emergency equipment and facilities;

• schedule for periodic inspection, testing and maintenance of emergency equipment;

• clear identification of evacuation routes and meeting points;

• schedule of trainings (drills), including with local emergency response services (fire fighters);

• procedures for emergency drills;

• emergency contacts and communication protocols, including with affected communities when necessary, and procedures for interaction with the government authorities;

• procedures for periodic review and update of emergency response plans.

Take a look at Common Hazards and Emergency Situations in the Food and Beverage Industry.

suitcasesmall.jpg Look at the Sample Fire Response Procedure and Sample Ammonia Leakage Preparedness and Response Procedure flowchart for examples.


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