Much like preparedness for a natural disaster, incident management is something that you hope you never actually have to put into action. You design your environmental health and safety incident management programs, processes, and procedures based on regulatory requirements and leverage industry best practices to ensure that you are prepared for when the ‘what if’ becomes a reality.
As the old saying goes, “It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it”, which is why it’s important to have a well-designed EHS incident management program.
When an EHS incident does happen, you want to know that you’re prepared. There should be no question of what your initial response is, or who needs to be notified. Having an efficient plan to follow will help you remain level-headed and get the situation under control quickly.
Tools for Better Incident Management
You likely have an incident management plan for each type of incident that may occur. It’s important to review these plans at least once a year. A few questions to ask yourself as you perform this review:
- Have there been any regulatory changes that would impact how we manage EHS incidents?
- Is this plan in line with all current company policies?
- Do I have the correct contact information for any individuals or regulatory bodies that need to be informed of an incident?
- Who else needs to know and understand this procedure? Have they been properly trained?
- What tools do I have that could make this process more efficient?
Like so many aspects of business today, there are technological solutions to your challenges. EHS risk management software usually includes an incident reporting module. Proper use of this software can make your incident response procedures more efficient and effective by ensuring that everyone within your organization has access to the information and tools they need to respond to an incident.
If your company has an on-site health clinic, look for a software solution that can integrate or interface with your occupational health software. This will make it easy to share the relevant information about any workplace injuries that result from a safety incident.
Collecting the Right Data
Incident management has three stages: the initial response, resolution of the incident, and the follow-up reporting and incident closeout. When tracking the number and nature of your environmental, health, and safety incidents, it’s imperative to be sure that everything is reported correctly. EHS incident management software streamlines this process by making it easy to collect and record data points and submit information to the requisite authorities.
Efficiency doesn’t just mean doing things the right way, it means not wasting time collecting information that you don’t need. With software properly configured for your industry and, more specifically, your company, you can be sure that you’re only collecting the data that matters and in the proper format for internal and external reporting purposes. Furthermore, with all of the information stored in one place, every department that needs it will have access to it, eliminating the need for duplication of work.
By leveraging technology, you can be more confident that everyone in organization will be able to take the right steps to ensure that EHS incidents of all types are handled in the best manner possible and reduce the risk of future incidents by sharing lessons learned and taking proactive measures as part of your continuous improvement efforts.