September 21, 2023
Emergency Readiness and Process Safety Management (PSM) with EHS Expert Paul Ahnberg

Paul Ahnberg

Paul Ahnberg shares his expertise in emergency readiness and response, and Process Safety Management (PSM). Ahnberg brings 32 years of EHS experience working with multiple industries and manufacturing facilities. Expand your knowledge on:

Emergency Readiness and Response

Process Safety Management

Emergency Readiness and Response

3 Steps to Successful Emergency Prevention

Ahnberg discusses the importance of emergency prevention and preparedness in various settings, such as businesses and communities. He introduces the concept of using a mobile app, like the ones built on the ReadyKey platform, to support emergency prevention and Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) compliance practices. 

The emergency prevention process is broken down into three key components:

  • Team-Based Risk and Vulnerability Identification: It emphasizes the need for a diverse team to systematically identify potential risks, including those related to fires, hazardous materials, medical incidents, natural disasters, and workplace threats.
  • Assessing and Prioritizing Risks: The content discusses the use of a severity-likelihood matrix to assess and prioritize risks, with examples of qualitative classifications for severity and likelihood. Risks are scored to determine their priority.
  • Selecting and Applying Risk Controls: The Hierarchy of Control is introduced as a method for determining appropriate measures to control risks effectively, ranging from elimination to personal protective equipment (PPE). Examples are provided for applying controls to mitigate risks.

Even with risk prevention tools in place, residual risks may still exist. That’s why emergency readiness and response planning are key.

Emergency Readiness and Response Planning

In Ahnberg’s second post, he highlights the importance of emergency readiness and response planning that follows the discussion in the first post on the three key elements of an effective emergency prevention process. This post focuses on:

Emergency Prevention: Put proactive measures in place to prevent or limit the risks of emergencies due to their potential adverse impact on communities, employees, the environment, and businesses.

Reasons for Emergency Readiness and Response Planning: Despite preventive measures, emergencies can still occur, necessitating preparedness and response planning. This section focuses on defensive actions to address facility emergencies.

Foundation of Emergency Readiness and Response Plans: The basic components of such plans are introduced, including:

  1. Developing the Emergency Response Philosophy
  2. Determining Plan Owners, Roles, and Responsibilities
  3. Using an Incident Command System (ICS)

Roles and Accountabilities: The post details the roles and responsibilities of various personnel, including the Facility Manager, EHS Manager, and Facility Maintenance + Operations Managers, emphasizing the importance of training and drills for emergency response leadership.

Incident Command System (ICS): The use of ICS is recommended to facilitate communication and coordination with outside First Responder entities. It explains the roles of the Incident Commander and the delegation of tactical accountabilities within ICS.

The content concludes by highlighting the comprehensive nature of Emergency Readiness and Response Plans, which build upon preventive efforts to reduce residual risks while meeting legal requirements. It teases a forthcoming post in the series that will cover four more key elements of emergency preparedness planning.

4 Steps to Complete Your Emergency Readiness and Response Plan

In Ahnberg’s third post, he shares the essential components of an emergency readiness and response plan. He covers:

  1. Creating Potential Emergency Scenarios + Plans: Learn how to identify and plan for specific risks related to fires, hazardous material releases, medical incidents, natural disasters, workplace threats, and more.
  1. Developing Evacuation + Emergency Response Drills: Having a plan is one thing; using it effectively requires thorough training and drills. Discover the importance of employee and contractor communication, leadership roles within the Incident Command System, and feedback mechanisms.
  1. Establishing First Responder Communication + Coordination: A well-formed plan should seamlessly link your facility's defensive actions with outside First Responder entities' offensive responses. Explore how transparent communication and drills with First Responders ensure everyone understands the Incident Command System and Unified Command expectations.
  1. Streamlining Documentation + Recordkeeping: Effective documentation and records maintenance are crucial for the overall health of your plan. Learn how an emergency preparedness app can streamline communication, training, drills, and actual response activities, enhancing your facility's emergency response capabilities.

By incorporating these key elements, you'll be better prepared to respond to emergencies, reduce risks, and meet legal regulatory requirements. And remember, an EHS mobile app like ReadyKey can greatly enhance your emergency response efforts, making the process smoother and more efficient.

Process Safety Management

Does OSHA PSM Apply to My Facility

Explore the crucial aspects of OSHA's Process Safety Management (PSM) standard and how it impacts facilities dealing with hazardous chemicals. Recent incidents emphasize the importance of PSM in preventing catastrophic accidents. Ahnberg covers:

Background of OSHA PSM: Learn about the origins and objectives of the PSM standard, which aims to prevent hazardous chemical releases from industrial processes. Understand the types of highly hazardous chemicals covered by PSM.

What Types of Facilities Need to Comply with PSM: Find out which facilities are required to comply with OSHA's PSM standard. It's not limited to a specific industry; various sectors are affected, including chemical manufacturing, petroleum refining, energy production, and more.

The 14 PSM Management System Elements: Get an overview of the 14 mandatory elements that make up the PSM management system. These elements ensure the identification and control of hazards associated with hazardous chemicals, safeguarding workers and the environment.

Steps to Determine Compliance: Learn how to assess if your facility needs to comply with OSHA's PSM standard. Follow suggested steps to identify chemicals, determine threshold quantities, and recognize processes subject to PSM requirements.

Understanding and implementing the PSM standard is essential for reducing process safety-related risks and ensuring safety in workplaces and communities. Stay tuned for more insights and best practices in upcoming blog posts to effectively apply PSM management system elements and minimize the risk of hazardous chemical releases.

OSHA PSM Compliance and Performance Best Practices

Get insights into achieving top-notch performance in Process Safety Management (PSM) by focusing on three interlinked components: Process, People, and Platforms. PSM is a performance-based standard and the examples Ahnberg presents serve as starting points for facility-specific PSM strategies and compliance needs.

Process: Best Practices for Reducing PSM-Related Risks

  • Align PSM elements with existing EHS and Operations programs to minimize barriers and avoid unnecessary changes.
  • Utilize current programs, such as Emergency Planning and Response (EPR), Hot Work, and HazCom, as the foundation for PSM compliance.
  • Avoid "bolt-on" programs and implement formalized, PSM-compliant programs when necessary to meet regulatory requirements.

People: Best Practices for Reducing PSM-Related Risks

  • Leadership plays a crucial role in establishing a safety-focused culture.
  • Employees' involvement, knowledge, and understanding of PSM elements are key to preventing catastrophic releases.
  • Training and access to Process Safety Information are essential for employee preparedness and risk reduction.

Platforms: Best Practices for Reducing PSM-Related Risks

  • Choose the right platform to support PSM processes, considering productivity suites, risk management software, and mobile apps.
  • Match platforms with roles to ensure timely access to process information.
  • Consider familiarity and collaboration with stakeholders when selecting technology.
  • Explore mobile apps as a valuable tool for providing real-time access to critical information, and enhancing mobile device-focused operations.

In summary, achieving excellence in PSM requires aligning processes with existing systems, fostering leadership and employee engagement, and choosing suitable platforms to support these efforts. Safety is a collaborative effort that combines effective processes, knowledgeable people, and the right technology to mitigate risks and ensure compliance.

Aligning Standards and Systems

In this final post, Ahnberg discusses Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) standards, EHS systems, and the importance of integrating people, processes, and platforms to create effective EHS management systems. 

EHS Standards and Systems

  • EHS standards are guidelines or criteria that ensure consistency and quality in EHS management, established by various entities including governments, industry associations, and standards organizations.
  • EHS systems consist of interconnected components or processes working together to achieve EHS goals, including hazard identification, risk assessment, control implementation, and performance tracking.

Continuum of EHS Systems

EHS systems can be categorized into three levels of sophistication:

  • Reactive Systems: Focus on EHS compliance with basic tools and limited professional staffing.
  • Responsive Systems: Go beyond compliance, involve audits, program updates, and professional staff.
  • Proactive Systems: Driven by management systems, optimized safety culture, and adoption of EHS innovations.

Low Tech vs. High Tech EHS Systems

  • The choice between low-tech and high-tech solutions depends on an organization's budget and specific needs.
  • Low-tech solutions are cost-effective but may have limitations in reach and data insights.
  • High-tech solutions offer broader reach and data insights but may require higher investment.

Lessons Learned and Considerations

  • Full utilization of EPR mobile apps may take time and requires follow-up and end-user engagement.
  • Collaboration with IT is essential for integration and technical details.
  • Consider data privacy requirements when implementing EHS technology solutions.
  • Evaluate existing platforms, integrate systems, and be creative in leveraging familiarity for successful technology adoption.

Effective EHS risk management relies on aligning people, processes, and platforms within an integrated system. Integrating technology, fostering collaboration, and focusing on EHS standards can enhance safety, protect the environment, and improve an organization's reputation and performance. Building a robust EHS management system requires continuous alignment of people, processes, and platforms.

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