With their utilization of advanced and highly technical machinery on a shop floor full of workers, manufacturing plants are exposed to a significant amount of risks. There are a plethora of possibilities that could potentially lead to an accident or malfunction that warrant the implementation of an emergency response plan. When something unexpected arises that has the potential to injure workers, the most crucial aspect is to ensure the safety of everyone in the plant.
However, what happens to a manufacturing plant that does not have a policy in place for any kind of emergency response plan? This could lead to significant damages and losses, in addition to injured workers or guests at the plant at the time. According to Automation.com, the true cost of downtime is dependent upon the number of workers in a particular plant, the length of the production process and a host of other variables.
While the actual cost of downtime varies from one manufacturing plant to the next, the simple fact remains that any amount of downtime stemming from an emergency will ultimately cost a company a lot of money. Brokers and agents working with manufacturing companies should work with managers and safety officers to ensure these facilities have a robust emergency response plan in place that can potentially reduce problems that may lead to losses, damages or other injuries to the workers or business.
Assemble a planning team
Having a solid emergency response plan requires putting smart, efficient people in charge of drafting the policy. These individuals should be knowledgeable not only of the entire manufacturing process from start to finish, but they should also have a solid understanding of the different dynamics between all the departments in the company.
Further, having a thorough familiarity with the guidelines from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration will help this team develop a strong response strategy that can be tweaked for the specifics of the manufacturing plant.
This team must also establish authority. Often this requires upper management promoting an atmosphere of cooperation and authorizing the planning team to take the necessary steps to develop and implement the emergency response plan.
Analyze capabilities and weaknesses
It’s important for the manufacturing plant to understand its full capabilities and potential weak spots. Having a thorough inventory of the company’s emergency response capabilities will provide a list of what’s available and accessible, and what is lacking and needed.
According to Safety Info, some of these capabilities include (but are not limited to):
- Medical response team
- Public information officer
- Fire brigade
- Hazardous materials team
- Evacuation team
- First-aid or medical stations
- Sanitation rooms
- Shelter areas
- Emergency operating area
- Media briefing area
- Fire extinguishing, protection or suppression gear
- First-aid supplies
- Warning systems
- Emergency power and/or generators
- Communication equipment
- Decontamination kits
In addition to gathering an inventory of the company’s capabilities, it’s also important for the emergency response team to put together a list of the the manufacturing plant’s potential hazards. It should be noted that no matter how extensive this will the team makes the list, by its nature, it will ultimately be incomplete. However, that doesn’t mean the task of assembling the hazards should be taken lightheartedly.
Consider these factors when creating a comprehensive list of potential hazards:
- Historical – such as fires, past hazardous spills, severe weather or utility issues
- Geographic – such as proximity to other companies that deal with hazardous materials, or occurrence of earthquakes or floods
- Human error – poor training or maintenance, misconduct, substance abuse or carelessness
- Technological failure – safety, telecommunications, power, computer system, heating/cooling or emergency response
“Employees must be trained on how to quickly implement an emergency response plan.”
Thoroughly train employees
Simply having an emergency response plan in place is not enough to suffice to adequately protect the company and its employees. Employees have to be properly trained to ensure they’re able to thoroughly and rapidly put the emergency response plan into effect when something unexpected happens.
In addition, since an emergency response strategy involves a reaction to a potentially dangerous situation, any training should involve more than merely sitting in a conference room and reading through the official policy. The company should set up a time to walk employees and other staff members through the plan, having these individuals physically going through the steps – or at least miming the steps – involved in shutting down equipment, cleaning up any dangerous spills and evacuating the building if necessary. Much like a fire drill, the only way to truly train someone is to have them actively engaged in the process.
Having the right protections
While an emergency response plan will help a manufacturing plant handle an unexpected calamity in the plant and even potentially reduce the chances of an emergency happening in the first place, the sad fact is that no matter how diligently a company plans for the unexpected, nothing is foolproof. Unfortunately, emergencies will occur, and manufacturing plants must have the proper protections in place to help the company pick up the pieces after any catastrophe, whether major or minor.
Brokers and agents providing casualty or professional liability insurance for manufacturers should work hand in hand with these companies to ensure executives and managers are implementing the right emergency response strategies to mitigate exposure to risks. Further, brokers and agents who partner with McGowan Risk Specialists gain access to a wide range of policy coverages specially designed for manufacturers at risk for a wide variety of potential hazards and disruptions.