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Emergency Response Planning

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Emergency Response Planning What You Need to Know to Be Prepared

Emergency Response PlanningHistorically, Emergency Response Planning has been focused on major events such as fires, floods, explosions, power outages, and chemical spills. Although they can certainly be significant, they are not the most significant with regards to the impact on occupant safety and health. In recent years, facilities managers of offices, retail establishments, schools/universities, healthcare and other non-manufacturing facilities have become aware of additional unwanted or unplanned events. Unfortunately, specific plans to respond to these events often are never developed, and as a result, facilities managers find themselves unprepared to respond to the needs of management.

Emergency Response Plans (ERPs) should be very concise and address varied conditions. The first step in the development of your ERP is to conduct a standard GAP analysis that identifies predictable risks and events. Each predictable risk or event will have consequences that can be used to establish a response plan. The other very important part of understanding predictable risks and events is that doing so will permit the development and implementation of controls that will minimize or eliminate their occurrence. A side benefit of understanding and eliminating predictable risks is a reduction in insurance costs associated with workers’ compensation and property loss.

Examples of predictable risk or events to evaluate in the GAP analysis include:

  • Asbestos and lead release incident
  • Blood, vomit, and other body fluids incident
  • Chemical spill incident
  • Construction activity incident
  • Domestic water release incident
  • Domestic water contamination incident
  • Fuel oil/gasoline spill
  • Indoor air quality incident
  • Legionellosis or other environmental disease incident
  • Odor incident
  • Outdoor air incident
  • Pesticide and herbicide application incident
  • PCB release incident
  • Post-fire response
  • Skin/rash/dermatitis incident
  • Sewage spill release incident
  • Storm and flood water incident
  • Visible mold growth response

Emergency Response PlanningThe second step is to develop the various scenarios and conditions that can lead to predicable risk events based on the GAP analysis. This information will assist planners and responders in better understanding conditions during an event, ensuring a more effective response.

The third step is to develop a list of site- and incident-specific responses for each predictable risk event. At a minimum, this list should include:

  • Contact names and numbers, in order of importance
  • Specific, immediate action steps to limit loss and business interruption
  • Specific response steps to begin remediation and restoration efforts
  • Development of communication to inform building occupants
  • Plan to document effectiveness of response
  • Sampling assessment to document levels of contaminants or microbiological organisms

The final step is training personnel in each of the ERPs to ensure that the plans are effective in responding to an incident. Training must be documented and conducted on an annual basis.

Please contact Chris Schneider, CIH, at 610.524.5525 extension 14 or email to discuss emergency response plans for your facility.