A thorough overall risk assessment will uncover potential workplace emergencies. Responses to those scenarios must be well thought and appropriate. Of course there is also a need for abatement plans to lessen the possibility of the disaster. All this is a basic and legal safety necessity. That being said, over the years I have experienced some real difficulties with emergency preparedness. I have noticed the following trends:
Written procedures are often lacking. Organizations bring together a group of field people and practice a scenario, but don’t document it. The crew may well practice their approach, but over time tribal practices degrade this experience. Problems arise when there is no firm reference or source document that establishes clear cut procedures. Without a reviewable document training and improvement are impossible.
Procedures are not created by personnel who will practice them in the event of an emergency, instead written by technical staff. This creates a document that is cumbersome or ineffective in the real world of chaos that is frequently a part of these “Ah Sh*t!!” events.
Procedures are blindly followed and not updated to take into account the changes that always occur over time.
Practices are neglected or only given cursory attention. After all when we do real practice actual potential disasters they truly disrupt our normal productivity.
If any of the shortfalls listed above is a part of your emergency (lack of) preparedness, and if you are not adequately prepared when sh*t happens, don’t expect to be able to execute procedures correctly in the face of a true disaster.
When there is no time to make up for the false sense of security we counted on, were we really prepared? Even Superman needs clothes. Emergency preparedness is a very important part of safety excellence. Do it well.
Video: Avista Utilities