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No one likes to have to deal with unwanted events - accidents, much less the major ones! For one thing, workplace accidents, no matter how minor, spell doom for the corporate pocket. They simply are downgrading events with little or no redeeming features. They come in in all shapes and sizes, and can occur at anytime of day or night. Clearly, this underlines a need to meet them head on with concrete response plans long before reality hits. The prime objective of ER planning should be mitigation of the resultant effects of an occurrence.

It is therefore of utmost importance to make such plans as simple and as clear as possible - short and sharp, as some might say. Clarity in terms of roles and responsibilities; simple and direct as can be, in terms of sphere of influence or field of command. Plans must be such that each segment dovetails seamlessly into the next, or confusion and shirking of responsibility will reign supreme come the day. There's no greater escalatory factor in an emergency response situation than uncertainty and unclear boundaries of authority.

If responders are unsure of what to do, when, where, why and with whom, a greater proportion of useful response time will be spent arguing, pondering, head-scratching, and generally ducking behind pulling ranks and other bully tactics. So get away from all that. Define each person's role and responsibility as best as possible, delineate the interfaces, underscoring integration for the common purpose of safely wrestling the event to the ground as quickly as possible. Remember, minimum impact on people, asset and the environment should be the overall focus of all responders, from the incident commander to the last person down-the-line.

But keep it in mind that ER Plans are worthless if not carried through with adequate training and repeated schedules of practice to test capacity and competence. For at the end of the day, speed and efficiency of response determines the overall effect on mitigation.

Safety is no joking matter.


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