Whether you work for a manufacturing plant with 1,000s of employees or a small rural hospital, keeping your employees safe is paramount to ensure they can safely and confidently get the job done. With the advent of new risks appearing every year, this can make your job extremely difficult. Fortunately, standards and best practices for keeping your employees safe have evolved over the years helping you stay at the forefront of employee safety. One of those standards is the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1600 Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management.
NFPA 1600 and Why Your Company Needs It
What is NFPA 1600? It is a set of criteria for NGOs and public / private sector organizations seeking to establish crisis / emergency management and business continuity planning and preparations.
An international standard applicable both in the United States and abroad, the NFPA 1600 is a set of best practices which can be voluntary implemented by companies large and small. Regardless of your company’s size or sector, having viable and comprehensive safety standards in place is important. In the case of an emergency, preparedness is an asset all companies need to embrace and utilize in order to assure the health and safety of employees, and decrease downtime for business systems. Adhering to NFPA 1600 will protect your employees and business from various hazards, but also make your investors and customers see that you are highly professional and well-prepared in regards to all health and safety issues.
- NFPA 1600 comes with annexes that, although not part of the requirements, can help your company have a better understanding of health and safety terminology, possible scenarios, and also of what tools to utilize in the event of an emergency—as well as preparedness guides for small businesses
- It offers valuable information on how plan should be executed in a recently added chapter which includes information on: recognition, reporting, notification, planning, management, resiliency, and documentation of incident
- With NFPA 1600, companies can have a better understanding of what policies and norms to implement in order to assure the health and safety of employees, but also ensure business continuity
- NFPA 1600 functions as a great self-assessment tool, regardless of the industry you are operating in
After familiarizing yourself with NFPA 1600 standard, the next step involves implementation of and administration of an NFPA 1600-based program, from planning to impact analysis.
How to Integrate NFPA 1600 with Your Company’s Health and Safety Strategies
Regardless of size or industry, all companies have to be prepared for dealing with a wide range of hazards and emergencies. In most cases, this entails having knowledge not only of what type of emergencies can occur within your business, but also what safety standards you can implement in order to be more protected. The NFPA 1600 can help you keep your employees safe, safeguard your business continuity strategies, and reduce customer impact, therefore, regardless of whether you already have health and safety strategies in place, implementing it is a wise business decision.
Planning and Implementation
The planning and implementation processes of strategies based on standards such as NFPA 1600 need to be conducted based on specific data, such as your safety mission, goals for the NFPA 1600 program, other emergency strategies already in place, and the tools you will be using to implement them. Make sure are also assessing your company’s capabilities to implement such health and safety strategies, and that you are using modern crisis communication tools that give you access to data and communication analysis reports. Providing adequate resources for a proper implementation of an NFPA 1600 program must be one of the first chapters of the planning phase—a chapter which will have to be updated with regularity.
Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis
When drafting a business strategy that involved hazards, disasters and emergencies, it is mandatory to perform a risk evaluation that will include the type of hazard you might encounter, such as: geological, meteorological, biological, accidental, intentional manmade hazards, and so on. Having this information will make it easier to conduct a business impact analysis and establish how a disruption can affect various aspects of your business. A BIA should include impact on the health and safety of employees, production processes, reputation, marketing share, relationship with customers or business partners, and more. Make sure you will also make an assessment of your current resources, but also of resource needs in the event of any type of hazard.
Crisis Communication Strategies
When implementing an NFPA 1600-based program, it is highly important to do so with the help of comprehensive tools and solutions, especially when it comes to crisis communication. Chapters 7 and 8 of the NFPA 1600—on execution, training, and education—require the use of a modern emergency communication solution that will help you better inform your customers and employees in the event of a crisis, but that will also provide you with tools for analysis. A proper crisis and internal communication solution with be highly valuable when it comes to health and safety instruction and training.
Tests, Maintenance, and Improvements
Your health and safety strategies need to also include a chapter on exercise, test methodology, test evaluation, reviews, corrective actions, and continuous improvement. Whether we are talking about new types of emergencies or the development of new solutions for strategy implementation, staying up-to-date needs to be covered from the first stages of planning in order to not disrupt the process once addressed.
The NFPA 1600, albeit an optional standard, has helped a wide range of companies and continues to set high standards in terms of safety, becoming the tool of choice for all major players, regardless of industry or sector. Planning and implementing health and safety strategies based on NFPA 1600 and its annexes will provide you with the support you need for keeping your employees safe, reducing downtime, and minimizing the risks in the event of a crisis or disaster. Make sure to also utilize the annexes, as they provide useful information on a wide range of topics, such as: user-friendly checklists, increasing preparedness for small businesses, protecting small business assets, meeting contractual agreements in case of a crisis, graphic representations, advice for business continuity practitioners, and many others.