Communicating in Crisis: Government Agencies

In Part Four of the series “Communicating in Crisis,” Scott Gaddis explains how important it is for EHS practitioners to know and understand regulations – local, state, and federal – that require reports to be filed following an emergency situation such as an environmental spill or employee injury.

Some emergency situations require reporting to local, regional or federal agencies, which may step in to coordinate a response.

There are no “hard and fast” rules for the EHS practitioner in reporting a crisis event to government agencies. So, know the regulations required by the specific agency that has jurisdiction over your operation.

For instance, in the United States, an environmental emergency is reportable to EPA when there’s a threat that reaches a threshold limit. Likewise, OSHA has similar protocols when fatal or specifically defined injuries occur.

Understand Reporting Requirements

It is vital that you understand the reporting requirements for all government agencies that have jurisdiction over your operation. Make sure you follow their reporting requirements. Depending on your industry, there might be additional federal agencies that require you to report incidents.

Depending on the specific nature of the incident, it is likely no single agency alone can handle a crisis. For example, a state emergency management agency would establish an emergency operations center to coordinate a large-scale emergency. This activity supports multiple branches of the emergency response efforts. If it reaches this level, your team, as well as local, regional, state and possibly federal response teams will coordinate activities.

Blog Series: Communicating in Crisis

This series of articles “Communicating in Crisis,” will help you navigate what could be rough waters ahead. Whether it’s dealing with a situation like COVID-19, a chemical spill, or an injury-causing event, you can handle it with the right crisis plan in place.

At some point in your career, you are going to experience a critical event. If you are practicing EHS right now, you’re living through an unprecedented crisis. How you manage these events impacts their lasting effect on employees, the business, the community and your value as an EHS practitioner.

Other Articles in the Series “Communicating in Crisis”

Communicating in Crisis: The Role of the EHS Practitioner
Communicating in Crisis: The Role of EHS in Managing Communication
Communicating in Crisis: Employees
Communicating in Crisis: Emergency Response Planning, Preparation and Training
Communicating in Crisis: Preparing the Public Information Officer

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About Scott Gaddis

Scott Gaddis leads the integration of the Intelex EHSQ Alliance in thought leadership and building partnerships with top influencers in EHS, working with professionals across the globe to deliver a platform for sharing information and collectively driving solutions that mitigate workplace loss. Scott has more than 25 years in EHS leadership experience in heavy manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and packaging. Before joining Intelex, Scott served as Vice President, EHS for Coveris High Performance Packaging, Executive Director of EHS at Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Global Leader for Occupational Safety and Health at Kimberly-Clark Corporation.

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