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One of the hallmarks of a best-practice maintenance organization is its preparedeness and ability to respond to emergency situations, whether they have occurred or could occur.

The definition of an emergency is commonly understood to be a situation or occurrence that has already placed, or has immediate potential to place, life or the workplace facility in danger, with all work to control or avert the emergency automatically designated as high-priority work managed through the maintenance department .

Most organizations will already have plans in place for potential production-process- or raw-material-caused emergencies, but many are ill-prepared for the emergencies that could arise from the new realities facing today’s operations.

Over the past decade, the daily news has been dominated by an unprecedented escalation of natural-disaster, dramatic-weather-change, terrorism, and biohazard events. With virtually no geographical location immune from these events, it behooves a maintenance department to review its current emergency-response plans to determine if they are adequate to meet all potential emergencies the enterprise might confront.

An emergency-response plan, often referred to as an “ER Plan,” is a plan of action that is put into effect to mitigate and manage the effects of an actual or potential emergency event. Typical emergency or potential emergency situations can involve fire, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, explosions, gas leak/oxygen depletion, and spills, among other things. More recently, terrorism, bomb/gun threats, and hostage-taking have been added to the list of possible ERP trigger events.

The type of emergency event(s) you plan for will greatly depend on the design of the facility, type of operation, geographical location, and recognition of the many new potential emergency events the site could face.

In all cases, building an appropriate ER Plan commences with a simple seven-step process that must include the following:

1. Peform a threat analysis to determine potential internal and external threats to the organization.

2. Develop a contact list of all relevant personnel with access codes and keys to the facility.

3. Develop a current facility floor plan that clearly depicts all:

a. building entrances and exits
b. elevators and stairs for exits
c. all safety-muster and -segregated lockdown locations
d. all fire-equipment locations
e. all safety-equipment locations (these will include breathing apparatus, washdown apparatus, defibrillators, etc.)
f. sub-stations, and major electrical panels
g. all water, gas, electrical, air, and process shut-off locations
h. data-server locations.

4. In addition, depict on the floor plan (in a different color code) locations of all potentially harmful material, including:

a. locations of all lubricant-storage areas
b. locations of all chemical-storage areas
c. locations of all fuel tanks
d. locations of all process-gas tanks
e. locations of all flammable-material (these could include locations of bulk materials, such as flour in a flour mill, or waste materials).

5. Develop a corresponding current list of lubricants, chemicals, fuel, and gases inventoried inside and outside the facility.

6. Develop an ER Plan for each defined potential emegency or threat.

7. Review ER Plans in conjunction with appropriate authorities, including local fire, police, and emergency-medical-services departments.

Following these seven simple steps will provide a foundation from which a tailored ER Plan program can be built. Moreover, the process and resulting ER Plan can help assure a site’s workforce that the organization has maximized its due diligence in providing a safe workplace.TRR

Ken Bannister has 40+ years of experience in the RAM industry. For the past 30, he’s been a Managing Partner and Principal Asset Management Consultant with Engtech Industries Inc., where he specializes in helping clients implement best-practice asset-management programs worldwide. A founding member and past director of the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada, Bannister is the author of several books, including three on lubrication, one on predictive maintenance, and his latest,
Energy Reduction Through Improved Maintenance Practices (Industrial Press). He’s also writing a new book on planning and scheduling. Contact him directly at 519-469-9173 or kbannister@theramreview.com.


Tags: personnel safety, process safety, emergency management, hazardous material, maintenance management, risk management