Roles and Responsibilities of Industrial Safety and Security Officers
Safety and security in the industrial setting are elements that are required for the safety of the plant, its staff, and the public in the surrounding area. As a constantly evolving process, the use of safety and security officers is also paramount in the enforcement of policies and procedures to decrease or eliminate injury or loss. Safety and security personnel are “responsible for enforcing organization rules and regulations concerning security and safety,” (Fisher & Green, 2004).
Each organization has its own rules, regulations, policies, and code of conduct to protect the staff from hazards such as fire, accidents, product tampering, and possible terrorist attacks. Local, state and federal regulations are also included in these policies to increase and maintain the safety of the staff and public. Another role of safety and security personnel involves “developing measures and action plans for the preventing and responding to cases related to fires, industrial accidents, natural disasters, theft, vandalism and medical emergencies,” (Fisher & Green, 2004).
The safety and security staff are responsible for consulting a company’s best policies and procedures to create and enact standards to prevent the above mentioned threats. Safety and security personnel are also expected to, “gather intelligence information that would assist in anticipating the occurrence of any threat to organizational safety and security,” (International Foundation for Protection Officers, 2003). This would allow the security and safety staff to adequately respond to industrial accidents such as fire or breach of security and ensure the proper emergency services are notified.
Maintaining OSHA and EPA Regulations
A compliance assistant who works for OSHA states, “the most cited violations
are fall protection, hazard communication, respiratory protection, control of hazardous energy, powered industrial trucks, ladders, electrical wiring, industrial machines and improperly guarded floors and wall openings,” (Spencer ,2013). Before OSHA was created in 1970, work related accidents accounted for more than 14,000 deaths of employees and staff. Nearly two and a half million workers were disabled and new cases of occupational diseases totaled three hundred thousand.
With the creation of OSHA pressure on most organizations increased to provide a safer workplace for employees except some self employed individuals, farmers, and government employees. Management is obligated to provide the needed resources and funding for OSHA and EPA program implementation. This allows the personnel chosen by management the authority to maintain and enforce all needed safety regulations in the workplace. Normally a safety officer, this individual finds, prevents, or controls hazards as well as training and educating employees in OSHA and EPA regulations and policies.
The easiest way to enforce regulations and policies in any organization is to enact and enforce them in the beginning of operations. Safety officers must then maintain an open line of communication with OSHA and EPA inspectors to maintain standards and note changes in regulations and provisions.
Allowing an open door policy with employees is also beneficial as violations can be noted and employees can be trained and informed of changes. According to Spencer (2013), “That for every one dollar spent on safety and health, businesses get at least four dollars back – and sometimes as much as a ten dollar return on investment.”
While the task of enforcing OSHA and EPA regulations and provisions may seem impossible, properly maintaining reports and record keeping can make passing inspections easier and less daunting. In order to meet or exceed the minimum requirements of OSHA and the EPA, following the set order of compliance allows the ability to keep employees safe.
“By January 1, 1991, and by the beginning of each succeeding fiscal year, EPA and OSHA will develop an annual work plan to identify and define the priorities to be addressed during the year. This work plan will include an identification of specific types of facilities to be jointly addressed during the year,” (EPA/OSHA, 1991).
When dealing with incidents that threaten the plant or employees such as fire, chemical release, or natural disasters unique challenges are created. These normally require the assistance of local, state, and federal government agencies that demand a centralized command structure. Founded in 2003 as a response to errors in the “Katrina” disaster, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) is a system that provides the ability for local, state, and federal agencies the ability to work together regardless of the size or complexity of a disaster, (Kirkwood,2011).
Using the Incident Command System (ICS), the working characteristics, interactive managing and mechanisms, and construction of occurrence management and disaster response associations engaged throughout the life cycle of an incident are defined. Initially, the first step of the response is to evaluate the total scope of the incident by continually determining the type of hazard as well as estimates of possible damage to the environment, critical systems, life, and property. After these questions are answered the next step, an action plan, is created.
The second step requires local, state, and federal agencies to create an action plan that is based on the response plans of the independent agencies and each agency takes responsibility for a different part of the action plan. The plan is then deployed after it is developed with each agency providing their assets to the task at hand and is guided by the unified chain of command through the ICS and the Incident Commander.
The Incident Commanders main responsibility is to ensure the incident is handled safely, efficiently, and effectively to minimize injury, death, and so a favorable outcome can be achieved. In the occurrence of a disaster, the incident commander has activated five functional areas of the incident command system: 1. Command
Each of these functional areas performs specific duties working together as required by the National Incident Management System and report to the incident commander. Operations take the responsibility of managing the tactical operations of the incident and they direct their activities towards reducing the hazard, saving lives and property, establishing control of the situation, and restoring normal conditions. Agencies such as “fire, police, public health, public works, and emergency services all working together,” (Homeland security, 2004), comprise this section.
Planning is responsible for the collecting, evaluating, and disseminating tactical information pertaining to the incident. This section maintains control of the personnel, facilities, supplies and equipment used during the incident and keeps track of all resources available as well as knowing where all groups are assigned. All arriving personnel check in with this department so that they may be properly assigned and accounted for. Logistics receives all requests for resources needed for the incident and orders the needed equipment such as supplies, food services, communications, transportation, and medical services as required.
The facilities unit “sets up and maintains all facilities needed during the incident such as places to sleep, food and water service, showers and sanitation. Portable toilets, lighting units and shower facilities are included in the facilities units’ responsibilities during the incident,” (Homeland security, 2004). The communications units duties are to make the “most effective use of the communications equipment and facilities assigned to the incident, installs and tests all communications equipment,” (Homeland security, 2004). Communications is responsible for issuing and recovering any communication equipment assigned to the personnel working the incident as well as maintaining and repairing the equipment as needed.
The need for communications during any incident is of paramount importance when dealing with any hazard or incident response. Food services are responsible for controlling the feeding of all incident response personnel and arrange services to do so. The medical units’ responsibility is to control any medical care that must be performed when incident personnel are injured or harmed in their duties. The finance/administration department is responsible for controlling costs and also for the administration of the different departments during an incident response.
Disaster Response and Continuity Plan
In the event of an incident or disaster and the possible impact to employees and the public’s health and safety, external agencies may be required to assist in lessening the effect of injuries or death. Using the National Incident Management System and the Incident Command System to successfully integrate external organizations into the plan or process is paramount depending on the incidents severity. Event integration of the incident command system begins at notification and, once outside agencies are notified, getting the authority that has jurisdiction to a specific location is the first requirement.
This requires providing clear specific information about the event and then developing the incident command structure with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each responding agency whether local, state, or federal. Depending on the incident and the possible impact to employees and the public, the organization needs to integrate the National Incident Management System into their disaster response plans in a systematic and proactive approach.
NIMS provides organizations with assistance agreements and mutual aid agreement templates when incidents occur as well to assist in recovery. Following NIMS guidelines before an incident occurs also assists in preparing and organizing for vulnerabilities the organization may face. The main aspect of any business continuity plan is to effectively allow the organization to survive and mitigate any losses and should be the number one priority. The second should be the collection and security of all business related data and materials.
This can be achieved through preparing hard copies of the data, having data stored on offsite devices, and storing data on devices protected from outside environments. Materials and orders also need to be tracked effectively so that in the event of an incident, the organization does not suffer further loss. It is also advisable to have secondary locations to use in the event of an incident or natural disaster. This would allow the organization to maintain operations or to regain operations quicker with lower loss of income.
Fisher R. & Green G (2004). Introduction to Security. Butterworth- Heinemann Publisher Homeland security. (2004, March 1). National incident management system [PDF ]. Retrieved from
http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/dhs/nims.pdf International Foundation for Protection Officers (2003). Protection Officer Training Manual. USA, Butterworth Publishers
Kirkwood S. (2011). NIMs and ICS: From Compliance to Competence. Retrieved from http://www.emsworld.com/print/EMS-World/NIMS-and-ICS–From-Compliance-to- Competence/1$7052
Spencer, J.R. (2013). OSHA inspection prep: Have a plan ready when inspectors come knocking. New York, NY: Headline News.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF
LABOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
AND THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY OFFICE OF
ENFORCEMENT (02/13/1991, EPA/OSHA) Section III Article A Paragraph 2 https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=238&p_table=mou
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