EH&S professionals should understand and implement Business Continuity Planning (BCP) within their organisations, thereby adding value to the overall management of business risk and hence organisational profitability and sustainability.

Business continuity is often overlooked by safety, loss control and risk management professionals: hence the missing link in the title of the paper.

The component parts of a risk reduction or loss control programme are accepted to be:

  • injury prevention

  • damage control

  • fire prevention

  • security

  • occupational health and hygiene

  • environmental pollution control

  • product liability

  • public liability

  • business continuity

Most organisations do something about most of the above - usually in a fairly ad hoc, uncoordinated way, but business continuity is often the poor relation or the missing link, probably because most organisations either have not had a major loss or disaster or think it can never happen to them!

What is Business Continuity Planning?

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is not just about disaster recovery, crisis management, risk management or IT. It is a business risk management issue. It presents you with an opportunity to review the way your organisation performs its business processes, to improve procedures and practices, and increase resilience to interruption and loss.

To quote the Business Continuity Institute, the professional body for BCP:

"BCP is the act of anticipating incidents which will affect critical functions and processes for the organisation, and ensuring that it responds to any incident in a planned and rehearsed manner."

The Turnbull Committee "Guidance for Directors on Internal Controls" sets out an overall framework of best practice for business, based upon an assessment and control of their significant risks. For many companies, BCP will address some of these key risks and help them to achieve compliance.

Hence BCP as an activity has two primary objectives:

  • Minimise the risk of a disaster befalling the organisation, and

  • Maximise the ability of the organisation to recover from a disaster.

It differs from disaster recovery by recognising that approximately 80% of disasters whichorganisations suffer are generated internally. As a result, BCP places more emphasis on managing out potential causes of disasters, than on recovering from those incidents which may not be avoided.

The BCP is therefore a combination of disaster/risk avoidance and the ability to recover.

Business Continuity Planning in Context

Modern businesses cannot avoid all forms of corporate risk or potential damage. A realistic objective is to ensure the survival of your organisation by establishing a culture that will identify, assess and manage those risks that could cause it to suffer:

  • Inability to maintain customer services

  • Damage to image, reputation or brand

  • Failure to protect company assets

  • Business control failure

  • Failure to meet legal or regulatory requirements

BCP therefore provides the strategic framework to achieve these objectives.

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