Advance Planning and Coordination

When a catastrophic event occurs the incident investigation must be coordinated with emergency response activities. This requires a well-written and rehearsed emergency and disaster plan, sometimes known as a crisis management plan. It also requires a documented incident investigation procedure that is well understood by all parties involved.

The Emergency and Disaster Plan

The Emergency and Disaster Plan should be multi-layered to provide immediate response from onsite personnel and include provisions to expand response activities with off-duty and outside personnel on short notice. The plan should make the best use of all available resources including public and private sectors. It must be a functional plan that recognizes the need to protect the:

  • Health and welfare of people (employees and the public)

  • Environment

  • Property and equipment

  • Continuity of operations (customers and stockholders)

  • Company's reputation

The plan must address all types of emergencies that could reasonably be encountered and meet the requirements of appropriate regulatory agencies such as:
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration

  • Mine Safety and Health Administration

  • Environmental Protection Agency

  • Department of Transportation

  • Office of Homeland Security

  • State and local agencies

It should include an Incident Command Structure that can work well with on- and off-site personnel including the local Emergency Response Planning Commission.

A comprehensive plan anticipates and prepares for:

  • Coordination of response activities via the Incident Command System (ICS)

  • Onsite response, shelter-in-place and evacuation

  • Off-site notification and response

  • Response to community needs

  • Dealing with the press

  • Incident investigation

  • Post-incident clean up and restoration of operations

  • On- and off-site claims handling including litigation

  • Post-incident regulatory inquiries and investigations

The plan should anticipate response by:
  • Police, fire and ambulance personnel

  • Local, state and federal agencies

  • Media representatives

  • Community leaders

  • Employees and family members

  • Plaintiff attorneys

  • Host employers

The Incident Investigation Procedure

The Incident Investigation Procedure should anticipate investigations by one (1) or more of the following groups:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

  • Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)

  • United States Coast Guard (USCG)

  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

  • National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

  • Department of Transportation (DOT)

  • State Police / Law Enforcement / Local District Attorney

  • Chemical Safety Board

  • Insurance companies

  • Plaintiff Attorneys

The procedure should establish the protocol and logistics for handling investigations with respect to:
  • Assignment of an Investigation Team and Team Leader

  • Assignment of a trained investigator to work within the Incident Command System (ICS) to begin gathering data for the formal investigation

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