Proper preparation and quick response are crucial in natural disasters and health emergencies. This holds especially true for companies involved in the oil and gas industries, which are highly vulnerable to accidents such as fires, electric shocks, and vehicle collisions, to name a few.
Oil and gas companies must address these incidents as soon as possible to reduce their negative impacts and prevent deaths. An emergency response plan must prepare the organization to respond well and swiftly to any incident. But what makes a good incident response scheme, and how can you plan it efficiently? Find out some of the valuable tips ahead.
What Is An Emergency Response Plan?
A company’s emergency response plan (ERP) is crucial on all premises and details how the organization responds to emergencies such as fires and sudden cardiac arrest. More than being a reactive exercise, drafting an incident response requires proactive undertakings such as identifying the potential issues that the company may face—before discussing how it must be handled by in-house responders or persons in charge. These hazards may include fires or electrical problems and health emergencies.
An emergency response plan entails the involvement of all staff. Apart from conducting regular safety training sessions, the management must also facilitate quick response and damage mitigation.
Why Is It Crucial In An Oil And Gas Facility?
Federal regulatory offices such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) supervise and monitor workplace safety. These agencies set the minimum standards for safety. Mandatory requirements depend on what the company does and where it’s located, among other factors.
Before being allowed to operate, an oil and gas facility, for instance, is required to submit an emergency response plan that needs to be approved by the government. More than assuring compliance and emergency response plan ensures the safety of all organizational resources, including people, products, and other physical assets.
5 Crucial Elements To An Effective Emergency Response Plan
Drafting an incident plan requires planners to look into a few critical elements, especially if making one for the oil and gas industry. Below are the main factors that organizations must consider:
- A Proper Understanding Of How An Emergency Response Plan Works
No matter how the petroleum industry performs in 2022, oil and gas companies must adequately plan and establish measures to handle emergencies and disasters. The emergency response plan’s main objective is to prevent accidents and mitigate their impacts. It details how organizations must handle specific interruptions, including improving the systems and the resources needed to reduce losses.
Besides the management, business executives must be aware of the plan’s main objectives to become more involved in the process. A successful emergency plan entails the understanding and involvement of the whole organization, from bottom to top.
- Identifying Potential Risks, Threats, And Hazards Accurately
Oil and gas companies must identify the issues that they face correctly. According to OSHA, while risks and threats vary from one organization to another, oil and gas companies engaged in resource extraction often prepare for vehicle collisions, explosions and fires, falls, and electrical and machine hazards.
Depending on where the company may be located, they may be more vulnerable to one specific risk than the other. Evaluators must identify these potential risks and rank them according to the scale of damage and the facility’s vulnerability against each determined incident. Safety and risk assessors must perform this proactive activity accurately to protect and preserve significant resources. If left unaddressed, these potential risks and hazards may lead to severe problems, including loss of lives and physical assets.
- Evaluating Your Facility’s Resources And Upgrading Them
To perform the proactive and reactive measures stated in the plan and as required by regulatory agencies, the oil and gas company must have the available resources and equipment needed to fulfill a swift and efficient response. For instance, you may start by answering the following questions:
- Is there are designated and trained first responders in the team?
- Does the facility have working fire suppression systems in place?
- Do you have ambulance services? If not, how can you get access to them?
- Are your communication facilities working well?
- Do you have enough medical supplies, and does your staff know how to use them?
- Which risk detection and mitigation equipment do you have or need to have?
- Are the facilities enough in terms of quality and quantity?
- What are the impediments that could hamper the evacuation process?
- If the incident were to happen now, how prepared is your facility to handle it?
In planning a potential risk, always start with the worst-case scenario. Analyze what your facility has and compare it with the resources you need to properly carry out the risk identification, mitigation, and response. Apart from spending billions on automation, companies must also allocate specific amounts to emergency planning to avoid significant losses.
- Continuous Practical Training
One of the more effective ways to assess your resources and identify the improvements you need is by conducting hands-on training. Businesses can do this after regular safety and risk reduction sessions. Each team member must participate in these lectures and workshops. Make these training sessions mandatory for all employees, whether veterans or fresh hires. It should be updated regularly, ensuring that it can respond effectively to your organization’s changing needs, as in the case of expansion or purchase of advanced safety equipment.
Additionally, these yearly sessions should be beneficial to all employees. For instance, staging an actual fire in one of the exercises provides your employees a chance to apply what they’ve learned during the training. This will also allow you to evaluate whether you need more equipment, change your response plan, or assign a new person to lead the response activities.
- Reviewing, Testing, And Amending Your Oil & Gas Facility’s Emergency Response Plan
Whether you’re about to start with your oil and gas business or have been in the industry for years, it’s imperative to conduct regular reviews to see whether some elements of the plan need to be removed, added, or overhauled. Not all risks, threats, and hazards are static, and so are the means to prevent them.
Putting your emergency response plan into action is one of the most effective ways to determine whether you need to institute any changes. Similarly, any equipment upgrade or additional identified risk requires plan updates. Once done, make sure that the updated copy is distributed to all employees, whether working on-premise or offsite.
A comprehensive plan is vital in protecting assets and mitigating the impacts of disasters and emergencies in all businesses, especially in highly vulnerable sectors in the oil and gas companies. Apart from correctly identifying the potential threats, it’s equally important to put the plan to the test by conducting regular training sessions and reviews. Revisiting the response strategy often should also provide ideas on improvements and amendments in your oil and gas facility’s emergency response plan.
Oil and gas operations are commonly found in remote locations far from company headquarters. Now, it's possible to monitor pump operations, collate and analyze seismic data, and track employees around the world from almost anywhere. Whether employees are in the office or in the field, the internet and related applications enable a greater multidirectional flow of information – and control – than ever before.