Business Continuity Planning (“BCP”) is the process of creating a system of prevention and recovery from potential interruptions and other threats to an organization. Among the key elements that make up a typical BCP are plans and procedures addressing emergency action to manage business functions and maintain operations.
EMERGENCY ACTION PLANNING
As discussed in “Business Continuity Planning Part 2: Vulnerability Risk Assessment,” every aspect of a business responsible for revenue creation and overall profitability should be analyzed for specific vulnerabilities. Risk from business function vulnerabilities arising from life safety, financial and contractual, and business and real property, can be mitigated by a written Emergency Action Plan.
An Emergency Action Plan (“EAP”) establishes the procedures for reporting an emergency or other business interruption event, and also communicates the management of business functions appropriate to maintain critical operations. An EAP is required whenever mandated by an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) standard, in addition to when certain conditions exist.
ELEMENTS OF AN EAP
A typical Emergency Action Plan will include:
- An executive summary.
- Describing the purpose of the plan.
- Identifying the BCP Team or other emergency personnel responsible for overseeing implementation and fulfillment of the plan.
- Brief descriptions of foreseeable emergencies.
- And what employees/other parties should expect from the employer/BCP Team during such emergencies.
- Procedures for initial tasks (like calling 911/other emergency personnel or formally declaring an emergency).
- Established evacuation and exit routes for each business location, particularly active project sites, and the procedures for accounting for all personnel after an evacuation.
- Some employees may need to be designated with performing medical or rescue duties. Also, certain employees may need to be designated to stay behind at some locations in order to operate and direct critical tasks before they may safely complete an evacuation.
- Critical information resources.
- Including contact information for personnel who can answer specific questions related to EAP procedures.
The EAP may include further information or communication procedures, such as a description of active project site utilities or the location of fire suppression services, hydrants and risers, onsite water services and power supplies. Likewise, a description of alarm systems used to notify employees, as well as locations where important documents should be stored during an emergency may be included in the EAP.
For a comprehensive “Emergency Action Plan Checklist,” including typical features of an EAP, click here to request a copy.
IMPLEMENTING AN EAP
The final step in the EAP is implementation, which includes the distribution of the EAP to employees and others via employee manuals, email, physical postings at particular locations (e.g., jobsite trailer), or otherwise. Legal considerations, such as employment and anti-discrimination laws, as well as compliance with particular federal and state statutory and regulatory requirements, should be carefully considered in the design and establishment of an EAP. Failure to have an EAP when required can result in significant fines for an organization.
It is strongly recommended that companies interested in developing a Business Continuity Plan consult with licensed legal counsel, an HR consultant, and/or insurance professional to thoroughly analyze their business organization’s susceptibility to interruptions, and to put together a thorough and specific Business Continuity Plan that complies with applicable regulatory or other legal requirements. If you have particular questions on how to assess vulnerabilities not covered in this section, or analyzing whether a function is critical to the ongoing viability of the business, contact Shutts attorney Michael C. Kelley or an experienced local insurance professional experienced in BCP methodologies and the typical insurance coverages available in your industry. In most cases, Business Continuity Planning should be conducted in conjunction with an overall threat assessment, as well as the procurement of various types of insurance coverages, such as business interruption insurance, which will be discussed in this series.
This is the third of a multi-part series of blog posts which will introduce the concept of Business Continuity Planning and explain the elements that go into making a typical Business Continuity Plan. To learn more about related elements critical to continuity planning, read the preceding blog posts discussing “Managing Risk by Developing a Business Continuity Plan“ and “Vulnerability Risk Assessment.”