Establishing a Successful Disaster Management Communication Plan

The recent explosion at the Blue Rhino propane plant in Tavares, Florida was the second major chemical plant explosion of 2013, following April’s Fertilizer plant Explosion in West, Texas which left 15 dead and over 160 injured. The need for inspection of Risk Management Strategyand Health and Safety procedure within the booming Chemicals Industry is greater than ever, following yet another disaster which, thankfully, did not incur any loss of life. But it is up to the company to ensure Health and Safety procedure is up to date and that accidents like yesterday’s explosion can be properly prepared for. Here are some of the key areas that make up an effective Disaster Management plan.

Communication

Communication is a vital component of any risk management strategy. But the reality of a disaster is chaos is almost certain to follow. An effective communication strategy, however, can minimise confusion and contribute greatly towards a remedy.

Departmental communication within a company is important so that members of staff, on every level, are fully informed of a situation and briefed/instructed on what they can or cannot do. Similarly, communication with those who are affected by the disaster can help prevent rumour and panic. Any effective Disaster Management Strategy should prioritise communication with those affected by the situation, as the protection of public interest is important for the sustainability of the company. Communication with the media is also important in terms of getting the truth out there and controlling the situation. Even if uncertainty is rife following a disaster, giving a ‘no information’ answer is better than making no comment at all.

Organization

Of course disasters are totally unforeseen, but preparation for a worst case scenario can be helped by a solid organizational structure. Designating positions and establishing a centre for crisis control can go a long way in keeping a company on its toes in anticipation of a crisis. Organizational structure also involves ensuring adequate tools and equipment are put in place. An alternate power source, emergency supplies and press statements are just a few of the precautionary measures a company can take in preparing its Disaster Management Plan.

Media Relations Officer

Part of the Organization structure involves designating a representative to speak on the company’s behalf in the wake of a crisis. The Public/Media Information Officer should liaise with the incident control officer to assess the situation so he/she can inform the media and general public of the severity of the situation and the measures being taken to remedy it. The Public Information Officer will become the main contact point between those assessing the Disaster and everyone else outside the company.

Measuring the strategy

One of the most important elements of Risk Management is learning from your mistakes. Once the dust has settled, it is important to take a step back and assess the Disaster Management Strategy and its proficiency, as well as the company’s overall Risk Management Process. While it may not appear like an appropriate hallmark following a disaster, every cloud has a silver lining and learning from what went wrong can greatly help a company prevent things going wrong in future.

This is an introduction to creating a risk management plan, for more information you can ask us for help.

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