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8.8 Emergency preparedness and response
Emergency situations may originate within your organization and have the potential to affect the environment, or may be an environmental condition that has the potential to affect your organization. You should determine whether your organization has the:
- Processes in place that are tested, and ready to be triggered;
- The planned response actions need to be tested, reviewed and revised when necessary, in particular after the occurrence of emergency situations and after tests;
- Capability to respond effectively to emergency situations;
- Interested parties are made aware of these arrangements, (and when necessary trained if they are required to participate in the emergency response).
The emergency preparedness and response section requires your organization to establish and maintain procedure to:
- Identify potential emergency scenarios;
- Respond to accidents and emergencies;
- Prevent and mitigate any environmental impacts and risks that may be associated with accidents and emergencies.
Your organization should review and revise, when necessary, the emergency preparedness and response procedure, especially after an accident or emergency situation. Your organization must also periodically test such procedures where practicable.
Whether your facility has emergency response plans or not, you should review the following sections to ensure you meet the emergency response requirements. Develop a procedure to respond to emergency situations.
Identification of Potential Accidents and Emergencies
The emergency response procedure(s) describe how you plan to identify potential accidents and emergency situations. Potential accidents and emergency situations could include:
- Accidental emissions to the atmosphere;
- Accidental discharges to water;
- Accidental discharges to land;
- Specific health and safety effects from such accidental releases and emergency situations.
Identifying potential accidents and emergency situations requires intimate knowledge of operations including, processes, materials used, and operating practices. When determining potential accidents and emergency situations, consult the following sources:
- EH&S engineers;
- Aspect and impact evaluations;
- Process engineers;
- Equipment manufacturers;
- Accident reports and records;
- Maintenance personnel;
- Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS);
- COSHH data sheets.
In addition to consulting the above resources, it is useful to perform a walk-through inspection to identify potential environmental accidents and emergency situations Walk-through inspections are most effective when performed during typical operating conditions using observational and non-threatening interview and communication techniques.
Emergency Response Plans
Emergency response plans are the result of prior planning, testing, and the coordination of internal and external resources. Emergency response plans provide written instructions and information to use during accidents and emergency situations.
Such plans can also provide information to prevent or mitigate environmental impacts and health and safety risks. It is recommended that emergency response plans include:
- Emergency organization and responsibilities;
- A list of key personnel;
- Provisions for safe evacuation, assembly and accounting of personnel details of emergency services (e.g., fire department, ambulance services, spill clean-up services, etc.);
- Internal and external communication plans;
- Actions taken in the event of different types of emergencies;
- Information on hazardous materials (COSHH & MSDS) that include each materials potential impact on the environment;
- Measures to be taken in the event of accidental release;
- Training plans;
- Procedures to test the plan’s effectiveness.
Emergency response plans, including facility layouts and MSDSs, should be filed with the emergency responding agencies for emergency situations. Emergency responders must be familiar with facility layouts and potential hazards, and must be adequately trained to prevent and mitigate a variety of human and environmental impacts.
Emergency Response Plans - Review and Revision
Your organization must review and revise, when necessary, its emergency preparedness and response procedures, especially after an accident or emergency situation.
You must also periodically test such procedures where practicable. Otherwise, plans may never be determined to be adequate or inadequate until after an accident that may have been avoidable with proper testing procedures.
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