Keep your company and facility ready to respond to any possible emergencies
Whether it’s the earthquake drill often practiced in elementary schools or the blaring fire alarms alerting an office to head outside, Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) play a significant role in all areas of life and work. And while they might feel tedious or monotonous at times, that is for good reason.
Some of the emergencies planned for in EAPs include but are not limited to:
- Natural disasters (earthquake, hurricane, tornado, tsunami, etc.)
- Social unrest
- Atomic/nuclear fallout
- Insider threats
While not every company may prepare for all of these emergencies, these situations planned for in EAPs are the exact replicas of how safety and security teams want personnel to respond in real-life emergencies. To better understand and prepare for emergencies, here are some best practices for maintaining and updating EAPs.
1. Know the Rules for Your Facility and Municipality
Depending on the size of the company, the assets stored in the facility and the number of people who work there, companies should be aware of how these factors may affect the EAP. It’s best to check with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website or professional security organizations, like ASIS, to stay up to date on guidelines and rules for the EAP. EAPs should be both written out and verbally taught to all employees.
According to the website, OSHA requires a minimum of the following for EAPs:
- Procedures for reporting a fire or other emergency
- Procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments
- Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate
- Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation
- Procedures to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties
- The name or job title of every employee who may be contacted by employees who need more information about the plan or an explanation of their duties under the plan
These baseline procedures are a good start for forming the EAP, but it’s also important to consider the individual attributes of each company.
For facilities with a Facility Clearance (FCL), FSOs will need to ensure EAPs are created and maintained in order to remain in compliance with 32 CFR Part 117, NISPOM. They will need to ensure they have EAPs for even unlikely scenarios since it’s important to know what to do with classified information in the case of any situation. For example, facilities in Texas may not have prioritized plans in the case of ice storms, but they would have ended up needing EAPs for that situation during the ice storms in 2021. It is crucial to be over- rather than underprepared.
2. Get to Know the Facility: Emergency Plans Are Not One Size Fits All
While it is a great idea to reference what similar facilities or companies may be doing for their EAP, it’s important to take into consideration the unique facets of your own facility. Consider the situations that may specifically affect your facility and personnel:
- What emergency situations could be unique to your facility?
- What is the most efficient route to navigate the building?
- Are there certain tasks that must be completed to secure assets prior to evacuation without threatening lives?
- How close are the first responders?
- Are accommodations needed for employees with disabilities?
- How will you ensure all employees are accounted for?
These questions can help inform the specific details of the EAP and ensure all employees are accounted for in the building. Knowing your facility means knowing how to keep everyone safe and prepared.
3. Practice Makes Perfect; Practice Makes a Prepared Facility
Perhaps practice doesn’t make perfect every time, especially in high-stress scenarios. However, practice does make for a prepared work community. If children need fire drills, so do adults. At minimum, a facility should be practicing its EAP once a year—running through each scenario, evacuating the building and knowing each step. It’s also important to recognize that perhaps the traditional drills aren’t always the best way to learn. A more efficient way to practice could be running the drills in groups rather than facility wide or having group run-through meetings. Either way, practice should be happening, at bare minimum, each year.
Personnel who manage the EAP should also be going through the plan each year to ensure it’s up to date. A couple of ways to keep employees engaged with the EAP is having an outside company run a tabletop exercise. There are companies, like Adamo, who can walk through scenarios and gauge how prepared employees are, and security and safety personnel can get outside feedback on how well the company executes the plan. Knowing the flaws in the plan allows the company to make necessary changes and adjustments.
4. Know What You Might Lose
In emergency situations, the facility may experience a loss of assets. Another way you can prepare for an emergency is knowing financially how this will affect the company. It’s important to run a risk analysis to know what is at stake. While a fire or natural disaster may result in asset losses, having up-to-date insurance or financial savings to account for this is a smart way to remain proactive.
For cleared facilities, this risk assessment is especially important, since the loss of classified information can threaten the facility or even national security.
5. Know How This Will Affect the Broader Community
Especially if you’re located in highly populated or residential areas, it’s important to know how an emergency in your facility will affect the surrounding neighborhood or community. While you may not need to take this into account for every scenario, emergencies with a wider impact, like fires or terrorism, should be prepared for in coordination with surrounding law enforcement and first responders.
Ask the following questions:
- Who will contact emergency responders in the event of an emergency?
- How long will the response take?
- Are there any mitigation factors that employees can assist in prior to the response from law enforcement/first responders?
By knowing how to answer these questions in advance, the facility and community will be better prepared to enact the EAP.
Adamo can help prepare and create the EAP through our security program support services. Contact us to learn more.