Communicating in Crisis: Preparing the Public Information Officer

In Part Six of the series “Communicating in Crisis,” a checklist for the EHS professional provides insight into the information you might  be asked to provide in a crisis.

Depending on the magnitude of the crisis, the role of the EHS practitioner in many cases is not only to gather and report information but to anticipate what information will be asked Shot of two warehouse workers standing on stairs using a digital tablet and looking at paperwork.

The EHS practitioner likely will lead or be a big part of gathering data and producing information that will be used for communications with the public, media sources and officials affected by the crisis. In most organizations, there is a role defined as public information officer (PIO), and while various titles may be used organizationally, it is this person who serves as the public face for the organization.

The Role of the PIO

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Communicating in Crisis: Emergency Response Planning, Preparation and Training

In Part Five of the series “Communicating in Crisis,” Scott Gaddis explains why you should not leave crisis planning to chance.

It’s not if but when a crisis event occurs at your facility, so make sure you have planned for it and employees are trained in emergency response.

How an organization handles emergency response during a crisis – and the communications of such events – cannot be left to chance. Planning, preparation and especially, training contribute to successfully managing emergency response. So, handle these in a way that benefits you as a practitioner and the organization you represent.  

Personally, and with few exceptions, I always was totally surprised when a crisis event happened. Some were small events, others quite large and complex, but most were very unexpected. Don’t think that a crisis event might happen, because at some point, such an event will occur. Prepare employees by providing emergency … Read more...

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 … Read more...

Communicating in Crisis: Employees

In Part Three of the series “Communicating in Crisis,” Scott Gaddis explains how important it is for EHS practitioners to be as honest and transparent as possible when communicating to employees about a crisis situation.

Unless employees are front row center as a crisis unfolds, it’s a safe bet that only versions of the truth are being shared with them by coworkers.

First and foremost, it is paramount during a crisis that the EHS practitioner and the management team be as upfront and honest as possible with employees. This does not mean the organization is admitting fault or taking the blame, but is communicating what is known as truth at the time the crisis is occurring. Unless employees were front row center as the crisis unfolded, it’s a safe bet that only versions of the truth are being shared with various fabrications of the facts crafting a new storyline as … Read more...