Learnings from Safety Professionals: Crisis Management

April, 2017, our EHSQ Community had a Mastermind session with Vince Marchesani, hosted by Tamara Parris, to discuss the crisis management planning.

During our closed sessions we had a small community gathering of 10 members who shared their views. In our Members voice survey we had 33 participants.

When asked “Do you currently, have a Crisis Management Plan?”  20 members responded “Yes” and 12 “No“. Of the 12, 7 stated they where thinking of creating a crisis plan. When asked “Have you tested your plan?” 15 said “Yes“, and 7 “No”. Of the 15 who stated “Yes“; 8 were satisfied with the test, and 9 not satisfied.

During the session, we had two members join us Juan Gutierrez and Roy Dojahn who voiced their challenges and insights learned through their own work experiences with the group.

To begin our conversation Vince reviewed the basics of Crisis Management Planning. He discussed how many organizations often overlook creating a plan as part of their corporate/ facility management. In fact it is seldom discussed! The second most common view is We have a plan”, and just having one should be enough. An area frequently overlooked is the third party expectations concerning an organizations plan. For example the involvement of police, fire, rescue in their plan

Our discussion then turned to looking at internal crisis notification, who gets notified and when. Our topics included addressing the concern of loved ones, how to manage the media, and the importance of sharing  the plan with one another, to improve the crisis planning process

During our final portion of the introduction we reviewed the phases of a crisis: (1) pre-crisis, (2) crisis response, and (3) post-crisis. During this point our community members shared their professional experiences and how to handle rolling out to your workforce. The emphasized the need to review and revise your plan regularly to ensure everyone is aware of what to do if there is a crisis.

Successful and Failed Crisis Plans

One example from our member about what happened when the plan did not appear to be effective was during a testing when everyone found out they were doing a test. Before they started the incident, workers started to leave the work areas. Although the were doing what was needed the Safety professional learned they were not able to time their response time accurately. His suggestion is not to provide pre-warning before the day of crisis testing.

Roy shared that his take away is to have something simple to guide your emergency responders. He shared what he has created is a one page document that outlines roles and what everyone needs to do. It helps to delegate tasks quickly and efficiently. He stresses to make sure it is an easy to use check list. This will help reduce the likely hood of the “Key-stone Cop” worker taking over the situation.

During our panel discussion our members Vince, Roy and Jaun shared the elements of their Crisis Management plans. Spoke more in-depth about having a crisis management committee, how to ensure you effectively train your workers to know the plan, and how manage and address the media during a crisis.

During our discussion our members identified several key challenges regarding crisis management planning.

They were:

  • Handling the crisis, between the incident and crisis management plan execution period
  • Keeping the messaging to the media fact driven, not rumors
  • Forewarnings augment the response times, hard for lessons learned.
  • During a test drill, having employees and mangers respond as they would during an actual incident.

We had numerous learning’s from our member discussion on Crisis Management Planning. The core Insights Learned members shared were:

  • During the crisis testing plan have communication tools during the crisis. If you don’t then you will lose time in the process
  • Only use Media when the crisis is involving out-plant resources to solve it.
  • Have a prepared statement we can use to address the media
  • Keep your plan progressing with project phases.
  • Secure the site / project, send home workers.
  • Accept that even the best prepared plans have flaws, the only way to find those out are to run test on the plans

We have now created an EHSQ Community members group that will meet regularly to further discuss crisis management planning concerns and issues. We invite you to please join us!

We invite you to view the Recording of the Live Member Open Discussion which inspired this month’s Learning’s from Safety Professionals post; “link to recording here”.


Community Expert: Vince Marchesani has published numerous papers on EHS topics and authored a published a book titled, “The Fundamentals of Crisis Management

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About Tamara Parris

I am the Community Manager of the EHSQ Community, and owner of EHSQ Professionals on LinkedIn. My passion is to work with other EHSQ Professionals to collaborate in thought leadership, networking with new people, and connecting my industry peers to resources that will increase profitability and goodwill within their workplaces.

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