ISO 45001:2018, the Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard was published in early March 2018. This is the twentieth in a series of blogs, in which we describe what the implementing company must do in order to meet the requirement of the standard. We will now look at clause 8.2: Emergency preparedness and response.
ISO 45001 – Clause 8.2: Emergency Preparedness and Response
Unplanned or unexpected events require an immediate response to minimise adverse effect on the health and safety of workers and relevant interested parties such as contractors, visitors, neighbours and emergency services personnel. ISO 45001 requires the organisation to establish, implement and maintain a process to prepare for emergency situations and to respond if they occur. This response includes the provision of first aid. Where the process is combined with other emergency preparedness and response processes, such as those required by ISO 14001:2015 or ISO 22301:2012, the organisation must ensure that it addresses all potential OH&S impacts and should not presume that the processes related to fire safety, or environmental emergencies, etc., are sufficient.
The emergency situations to be covered can originate within or outside the organisation and have the potential to affect the health and safety of workers and others.
The emergency response process should address all of the following:
- Establishing a planned response to emergency situations, including the provision of first-aid;
- Providing training for the planned response;
- Periodically testing the organisation’s capability to respond to the potential emergency;
- Evaluating the organisation’s performance and, as necessary, revising the planned response, including after testing and, in particular, after the occurrence of an emergency situation;
- Communicating and providing relevant information to all workers on their duties and responsibilities;
- Communicating relevant information to contractors, visitors, emergency response services, government bodies and, where appropriate, the local community;
- Taking into account the needs and capabilities of all relevant interested parties and ensuring their involvement, as appropriate, in the development of the planned response.
When identifying potential emergency situations, consideration should be given to emergencies that can occur subject to both normal and abnormal conditions (e.g. operation start-up or shut-down, construction activities, etc.). How the potential emergency situations will impact all personnel within and/or in the immediate vicinity of the workplace should be assessed by the organisation, particularly those with special needs such as people with limited mobility, vision or hearing.
The emergency preparedness and response process should focus on the prevention of ill-health and injury to all personnel including workers, contractors, visitors, neighbours, members of the general public and emergency services personnel and should take account of applicable OH&S legislation such as the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 and the Chemicals Act (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2015 (COMAH). The process should be clear and concise and should be understandable to personnel within the organisation with specific duties and responsibilities during an emergency such as fire wardens.
The emergency preparedness and response process should consider the following:
- Identification of potential emergency situations and locations;
- Details of the actions to be taken by personnel during the emergency;
- Organisational roles, responsibilities and authorities of personnel with specific roles during an emergency such as fire-wardens, first-aid staff, spillage response personnel and members of the emergency response team (ERT);
- Interface and communication with the emergency services;
- Communication with workers, regulatory bodies and other relevant interested parties such as workers’ families, neighbours, the local community and the media;
- Information deemed necessary to facilitate the emergency response process such as plant layout drawings, identification and location of emergency response equipment, identification and location of hazardous chemicals and wastes, utility shut-off locations and contact information for emergency response providers;
- Review of emergency response equipment and materials;
- Emergency responses training;
- Periodic testing of emergency preparedness and response process;
- Review and revision of process, where appropriate.
The organisation should maintain and retain documented information on the emergency preparedness and response process and on any plans for responding to potential emergency situations.