Emergency planning - a risk-based approach

28 September 2018

The IOSH Caribbean Branch hosted its branch meeting on Friday 28 September 2018 at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre, Port of Spain, Trinidad. Caribbean Branch Vice-Chair, Mr. Shazam Edoo and Kelly Ann Charles presented at this meeting on the topic “Emergency planning - a risk-based approach”.

This topic attracted an immense response from the branch’s membership due to the recent occurrence of a 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Trinidad the previous month. Before the start of the meeting, Chair, Mr Jason Maitland addressed the attendees and provided general IOSH updates and provided a summary of the recently held IOSH 2018 conference.

The evening was officially opened and called to order by Ms. Karen Lopez, Communications Coordinator for the branch who introduced the two speakers.

Mr. Shazam Edoo presented first, with a highly informative slideshow entitled A Holistic and Risk Based Approach to Emergency Response Planning.

The presentation covered the following points:

  • A definition of Emergency and Emergency management
  • The Emergency Management Cycle: Prevention, Preparedness, Response, Recovery
  • The importance of making a case for emergency management
  • The steps involved in emergency response management
  1. Establish a Team
  2. Analyse Capabilities and Hazards
  3. Develop a Plan
  4. Implement the Plan

Following Mr. Edoo’s presentation, there was a brief video with information on what do during an earthquake. This was shared in light of the dissemination of false information from unverified sources circulating on social media following the earthquake. Mr. Maitland emphasized to members the importance of using verified information in preparing emergency plans and effective communication to employees.

Ms. Lopez then introduced Ms. Kelly Ann Charles, who gave a presentation of case studies where emergency response plans failed due to lack of proper planning or lack of foreseeability. She explained that the major problem that companies face when dealing with emergency management is the fact that most companies do not think that a major emergency will ever happen to them. This is especially true if there was never any history of a major natural or man-made event in their area. She emphasized the importance of presenting a strong case to management to invest in proper emergency management systems, since the cost that companies face in the aftermath of an unplanned event is often much higher.

The attendees were then invited to ask questions and began an interesting discussion of the challenges faced by HSE practitioners to convince those in upper management to provide adequate resources for effective emergency management. One attendee expressed frustration as emergency management deficiencies were identified but little measures were taken to address same. Another attendee responded by indicating she was able to get a favourable response by placing a monetary value to every situation and conducting a cost benefit analysis and this facilitated an understanding by management of the concerns and a favourable decision was subsequently made.

Ms Lopez concluded the evening by thanking members for showing their interest by attending the event and also thanked Mr. Edoo and Ms. Charles for sharing their knowledge with the members. The meeting was officially closed and members were able to participate in further discussion and networking.