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: The Role of EHS in Managing Communication

In Part Two of the series “Communicating in Crisis,” Scott Gaddis explains the role of the EHS function in gathering information to help the organization make informed decisions as part of crisis management efforts. Read Part One, “Communicating in Crisis: The Role of the EHS Practitioner.”

The EHS function often plays a role in internal and external communication during crisis management.

The EHS practitioner is likely to work along several paths in dealing with and communicating in a crisis.  In an emergency, the practitioner has multiple audiences that will need to be informed including employees, senior management and government agencies. The media and the public also are a consideration, but usually with the idea of supporting that activity with data that will be shared externally by others.    

It is imperative to gather as much information as you can about what happened. Taking for granted that people have … Read more...

Coronavirus – Leading EHS During Crisis

Have your priorities as an EHS leader changed during the current Coronavirus crisis?

Organizations are experiencing an unprecedented situation. Now more than ever, EHS professionals can help lead their organizations through the crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve spent all my time working as an EHS professional in local and corporate level positions, determined to improve business processes and performance. Throughout my career, I’ve noticed one consistent theme: organizations optimize their efforts when they provide robust and well-balanced leadership.

This means that they do not focus on a single factor but consider the work system, employee capability and capacity, how the organization is led, and the management system. During times of crisis such as what we’re now experiencing with Coronavirus, it is vital to lead your organization more effectively.

Simply, the dividing line between managing things and leading them is measured by the ability to affect … Read more...

Coronavirus: Will It Cause Workplace Distraction?

Mention the word Coronavirus, and an unsettling knot grows in your stomach. It is sweeping across the globe with great voracity.  Every newspaper headline screams it. Every television news program I’ve watched over the last month leads with it.  

While we can’t dismiss Coronavirus as a medical concern, what is it doing to the mental health of workers?  As a safety practitioner, I’m concerned about how much distraction this creates in the workplace. This especially is true in those work environments where an absolute focus on work tasks separates staying safe or becoming a tragic loss statistic.

Don’t allow workers to become so distracted by the latest news about Coronavirus that they become so distracted that they commit unsafe acts.

My Experience

Years ago, I worked in a paper mill that was progressive in the care for its people. You knew you were driving into a different type of manufacturing plant when you passed signage in the parking lot with the company name … Read more...

How Crisis Management Planning Could Save Your Business

Crisis management planning is one of the most important ways of protecting your organization and your workers from injury, loss of productivity and disaster. A solid crisis management plan that has executive sponsorship and cross-functional support can mean the different between an incident from which your business recovers and a disaster that costs time, money or lives.

Yet crisis management planning is also one of the most difficult initiatives for which to get executive support. Very often, crisis management is considered too expensive or simply requires too many resources for an event that many executives would consider a statistical improbability. This attitude relies on the idea that a crisis is never likely to happen and that, even if it did happen, everyone would instinctively know how to deal with it.

But what if it does happen? How would the organization deal with a crisis in which people were injured? Or … Read more...

EHSQ Community | Crisis Planning

This month our member Richard Rosera shares a post about the Chemical Safety Board, while member Vince Marchesani volunteers to host a Mastermind discussion to review Crisis Management Planning.  We invite you to join our Environmental, Health and Safety, and Quality professional community, and share your knowledge with other members.

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