Emergency Preparedness Essentials


Improving Your Business's Disaster Recovery Program

After a real incident, program improvement opportunities exist. Critique the response to the incident. Preparedness program changes can be identified within the lessons learned from the incident. Resources for improving your own preparedness program can come from professional societies, newsletters, government websites, and instructional guidance that is published by trade associations.

A corrective action program should be used to identify deficiencies and record and address them. Keep these on file.

Program Reviews

The preparedness programís effectiveness can be improved by reviewing the policies, objectives, program implementation, and changes that come from both the preventive and the corrective actions taken.

When To Conduct Program Reviews

Review the preparedness program often. The goal of the review is to assure that it is still meeting the needs of the business as well as complying with regulations. Changes that can trigger a review could be:
  • New service or product withdrawn or launched
  • Changes to budget or funding level
  • After-incident critiques identifying issues
  • Drills, tests, or exercises identifying weaknesses
  • Vulnerability to hazards changes; new hazards identified
  • Changed or new processes
  • Regulatory changes
  • Significant increase to the workforce population on-site
  • Significant changes to supply chain or critical suppliers
  • Division, company, or business unit acquired and integrated or divested
  • Changes to the surrounding infrastructure
  • Significant changes to buildings, layouts, or sites
If any of these happen, the program coordinator needs to start a program review.

Scope of Program Reviews

Program reviews have several responsibilities. Some of them are assessing compliance with policies; determining if preventive and/or corrective action had been taken on earlier identified deficiencies; assessing the program implementation; determining if performance objectives were met; etc.

These should be reviewed:
  • Resources (e.g. supplies, equipment, and systems) are in place and well-maintained.
  • Contact information for suppliers, vendors, contractors, public agency contacts, and team members.
  • Team rosters have updated membership.
  • Procedures and plans are evaluated and up-to-date.

Corrective Action

A corrective action program is needed for addressing and recording deficiencies that are found in a program review. These deficiencies could be found during drills, training, insurance surveys, regulatory compliance audits, post-incident critiques, exercises, and lessons learned.

Corrective Action Program

Deficiencies should be documented in the corrective action program. Include the deficiencyís full description; what action needs to happen; the resources needed for dealing with the deficiency; and the justification for correcting the deficiency. Assign these things to the department that can best handle the issue. Assign a due date and track progress. Update the status column until the deficiency is fully addressed. All deficiencies are not as important as others. Because time and funding are limited, prioritizing is important. This can also help define substantial deficiencies that management needs to correct right away. Criteria for corrective action could include:
  • Following the best industry practices
  • Conforming to standards of the nation
  • Hazards to the environment, operations, property, or an entityís reputation
  • Compliance with regulations
  • Hazards to safety and health
Management Reporting

If the deficiency is substantial, report it to management and explain the problem, how it should be corrected, etc. in order to gain management support. Also, inform management periodically of the corrective actionís status until the deficiency is fully addressed.
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