Editor’s Note: PIG Expert Advice is a dedicated space to bring EHS and MRO professionals information about new and updated standards that could affect their employees and facilities. Technical Writer Karen Hamel recently gave a talk on the importance of Business Continuity Plans and an updated standard that can help companies prepare for a comeback after an emergency.
Each year, my county’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) hosts a summit for facilities and first responders in our region. The focus of the summit is to provide education and networking opportunities to companies that have hazardous chemicals onsite and the first responders who may be called upon to help them if there is ever an emergency.
This year, I was asked to host a breakout session on the importance of having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). For anyone who isn’t familiar with this, BCPs are also known as Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP), Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP) or Resilience Plans.
These plans are different from emergency response plans, which focus on how to handle an emergency while it is happening. A BCP focuses on planning how your facility will recover and resume normal operations after the disaster has passed.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), major insurance companies and many trade organizations — especially those with an IT focus — all support and stress the importance of planning out what to do after an emergency, but there aren’t many good templates out there to help you get started.
The best planning template that I’ve found and recommend is the NFPA 1600 Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity of Operations Programs. The most recent edition was published in early 2016. Like all NFPA standards, it’s broken into chapters and paragraphs, but what is especially helpful is the checklist in Annex B that breaks down each of the paragraphs in the standard so that you can simply check “yes” or “no” and quickly determine what you may still need to address in your plan. (Note: Registered users can download a PDF of the standard for free on the NFPA website.)