Resilience and Preparedness for Threats, Hazards + Risks

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Over the past decade, there has been an exponential increase in human and material losses from disaster and catastrophic events worldwide. These manmade and naturally occurring incidents have ranged in scope, severity, and impact. As a result, a heightened sense of vulnerability has spurred an urgency for resilience and preparedness within governments and corporations. However, efforts to prepare for, manage, or mitigate risks are often shelved by constrained resources, profit margins, politics, or alternative goals.

To manage workplace risks, each facility should be analyzed for potential threats, hazards, and risks. The 2011 Presidential Policy Directive-8 (PPD-8) called for the establishment of a “national preparedness goal” which “will be informed by the risk of specific threats and vulnerabilities and include concrete, measurable, and prioritized objectives to mitigate that risk.”

Site-specific threats, hazards, and risks with the potential to cause injury, damage facilities, or adversely affect the environment should be identified through assessments and incorporated in subsequent emergency planning procedures. These vulnerabilities may be presented in the form of unsafe acts, unsafe conditions, or operational or geographical proclivities. Once recognized and evaluated, hazards, threats and risks should be eliminated or controlled through procedural planning. A risk management program should include, but is not limited to, the following mitigation processes:

Threats, Hazards + Risk Recognition:

  • Comprehend the three main type of threats and hazard:
    • Natural Hazards- ex: tornado, wildfire, earthquake, hurricane
    • Technological Hazards- ex: power failure, hazardous release, infrastructure failure
    • Man-made incidents - ex: cyber attack, violence, chemical attack, explosive attack
  • Inspections, audits, and employees can reveal hidden risks
  • Consult with local or online sources that have pre-identified risk based on site operations and location
  • Eliminate potential threats and hazards by likelihood of incident and the significance of effects

Threats, Hazards + Risk Evaluation:

  • Evaluate accident probability for each process, procedure and handled material and its resulting level of potential severity if an accident were to occur
  • Evaluation should take into account the time, place, and conditions in which threats or hazards might occur
  • The probability and severity of a risk should determine the priority level for correcting the hazard. The higher the probability and severity of risk, the higher the emphasis should be on corrective action

Threats, Hazards + Risk Elimination or Control:

  • Targeted effort should be made to isolate and eliminate the root cause
  • If root cause cannot be eliminated, changes in process and procedure should be made in order to reduce risk:
    • Implement risk reducing engineering controls, when applicable
    • Implement proactive administrative controls or work place practices
    • Establish process to identify inoperable or malfunctioning equipment and machinery through systematic inspections
    • Establish processes to minimize the effects of naturally occurring hazards
  • Ensure regulatory compliance

Threats, Hazards + Risk Communication:

  • Apply the results of analysis through planning and exercises. Employees should be made aware of hazards associated with any workplace process, materials, or location
  • Accident prevention signs should be posted to remind occupants of the presence of hazards
  • Establish and communicate emergency response plans to employees and appropriate emergency response teams. This includes up to date contact information and notification procedures
  • Calculate, specify, and communicate resource requirements and operational capacities for each targeted scenario to internal and external responders
  • Counteract onsite response deficiencies for each scenario by implementing coordinated interoperability communication

By analyzing threats, hazards, and risks, companies can implement processes, procedures, and mitigation efforts to reduce potential impacts of specific scenarios and maximize operational productivity.

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