National Preparedness Month is Here!
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nearly two-thirds of U.S. businesses have not created an emergency plan. Emergency planning is critical, which is why September of each year is designated as National Preparedness Month (NPM). This year's NPM theme is "Prepared, Not Scared. Be Ready for Disasters."
With September almost here, it’s a perfect time to make sure you have a plan in place, and review some key strategies for improving your emergency planning.
Tip #1: Know Your Inventory
One foundation of emergency planning is knowing what chemical hazards exist in your facility. That means keeping your chemical inventory and SDS library up-to-date, and being able to quickly access and share hazard information at all times.
An important element of success here is to know your true chemical inventory – meaning the identities and quantities of chemicals present as ingredients in your products. This can be a challenging task if you have a large inventory, because the names of many chemical products offer few clues about the ingredients they contain, and some of those ingredients may carry significant safety and environmental risks.
Consider the advantages a modern cloud-based chemical and SDS management software solution would give you in managing your chemical hazard information. Modern software can help you keep your inventory and SDS library up to date as new chemicals enter your facility, and give you visibility of their ingredients to enable better planning.
Tip #2 Share Your Information
Major chemical release incidents highlight the importance of having access to emergency response information in the event of a major industrial incident. It’s not enough for you to have information stored about the hazards of your chemicals – you also need to make sure that your own emergency response team and external first responders such as the local fire department have the relevant information.
In the absence of this hazard information, first responders lack the knowledge necessary to safely control and extinguish a fire or address dangerous releases. Uncertainty about chemical hazards that may be encountered when responding to an incident places emergency personnel at risk, because it reduces the likelihood that they’ll have the proper PPE and response tactics.
Lack of chemical hazard information also places communities at risk, as members of the community, health care providers, municipal officials and other community stakeholders need this information to recognize and understand exposure symptoms, identify vulnerable populations, and take sufficient precautionary and treatment measures.
The best modern EHS software give you the ability to map your chemical storage locations onto a footprint of your facility and share that information with emergency responders, making it that much easier for them to develop a safe and effective response strategy in the event of a serious incident.
Tip #3 Have a Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan outlines the measures a business will take to resume its normal operations as quickly as possible following a major emergency.
This is one of the most important, and most frequently overlooked components of emergency planning. Without a continuity plan, a business frequently struggles to take prompt and effective actions to restore operations after an emergency shutdown, and the consequences can be disastrous. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) states that up to 40 percent of businesses hit by a disaster such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake do not reopen, in large part because of lack of established continuity plans. Ready.gov provides useful guidance for business continuity plans.
Modern EHS software can help here, too. Safety meeting management solutions can help you schedule and manage meetings of your business continuity team, and training management solutions can help you make sure that you’ve trained your people on the right things at the right times.
Tip #4 Remember the Big Picture
Even the most well managed facilities still bear the risk for a serious chemical-related emergency. But with the right planning, you can minimize the impact of an incident on your business and reduce the risks to your workers and your community.
Keep the right frame of mind, and recognize the real purpose behind what you’re doing. Emergency planning isn’t only something that first responders do, or that companies have to do because regulations say so. It’s something that an entire community does for itself. As members of a community, we have an obligation to get it right, which means keeping our chemical inventories up-to-date, and being able to quickly access and share key hazard information at all times.
The good news is that also means that you’re not in this alone. Your relationships and information sharing with other members of your business and the larger community improves safety for everyone involved.
Looking for more resources? Ready.gov offers several promotional materials to help you spread the word and organize NPM-related activities in your workplace and community, including graphics, videos and social media content related to this year's theme. The site also offers an emergency preparedness toolkit specific to businesses, which includes images and PDFs covering information on how to prepare for various disasters.
Let VelocityEHS Help!
Chemical and SDS management solutions from MSDSonline can help you keep your chemical inventory and SDS library up to date and available to all stakeholders in emergency planning. For even better emergency planning capabilities, consider using our powerful ingredient indexing capabilities to reveal and manage your true chemical inventory.
Our Plan 1 service even gives you the ability to map your chemical storage locations onto a footprint of your facility and share that information with emergency responders, making it that much easier for them to develop a safe and effective response strategy in the event of a serious incident.
Using our Safety Meetings solution, you’ll be able to easily schedule and manage meetings of your emergency response and business continuity teams and capture important agenda items. And with our Training Management software, you’ll be able to manage training for your entire workforce more easily than ever before.
For more information about how you can strengthen your emergency planning and strengthen communications with your community, please feel free to check out our on-demand webinar.
All of us here at VelocityEHS wish you safe and healthy days all through the year.