Original Date: 06/05/2006
Revision Date: / /
Best Practice : Emergency Response Plan
Rockwell Collins has concentrated on an emergency response plan to minimize risk to employee safety and the environment, reduce risk for loss of property and assets, and reduce cost associated with lost production. The resulting benefits to Rockwell Collins include improved relationship and communications with local emergency responders, heightened awareness of emergency response to company employees, reduced downtime in operations, and a prominent place in the community.
Rockwell Collins emphasizes emergency response at its Cedar Rapids facility. Prior to calendar year 2000, the existing emergency response scheme was not well-organized. Formal chemical spill teams did not exist, and the severity of the spills that did happen were not easily gauged. Chemical spill cabinets that did exist were haphazardly placed and maintained with only minimal material and supplies. Training in critical response also lapsed, with all shifts not represented.
During the first two months of 2000, Rockwell Collins experienced two potentially life-threatening incidents. In January the C-Avenue facility experienced a large transformer fire and in February, the chemical treatment facility experienced a serious chemical explosion. While no employees were injured in these incidents, the confusion during these two months served as a strong stimulus for Rockwell Collins to optimize response schemes to any emergencies.
Leveraging lean practices, Rockwell Collins held a radical process improvement event that completely realigned its emergency response. First, the organization formed the Incident Command Team designed to be the first people to respond to an emergency. Training in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.120 is now a hallmark of the multidiscipline Incident Command Team that operates under the National Incident Management System. The team is fully empowered by the company and is comprised of multiple representatives from across the business. Disciplines on the team include Safety and Health, Environmental, Security, Health Services, Fire, Facilities Services, Electrical, and Media Relations/Communications.
Second, the Facilities Support Team was formed with the focus of stabilizing the work area after the emergency has occurred. This stabilization comes in the form of performing clean-up operations, staging and providing materials and supplies, containing released chemicals (if any), and preparing the facility for the resumption of operations. This team uses respiratory protection and goes through quarterly on-site training and annual drills in conjunction with civil authorities.
To augment this team structure to emergency response, Rockwell Collins has initiated an emergency response plan that is essentially the “trigger” for setting the Incident Command Team in action. The key tenets of this plan are to first minimize human risk, protect the environment, minimize property and asset loss, and finally to expedite the resumption of operations. The Emergency Response Team is easily accessed by dialing 1911 on company phones.
Another aspect of the Emergency Response Plan is the debrief that occurs within 24 hours of an event’s termination. Taken from the military’s After-Action Review, this creates an open and honest forum where lessons learned can be easily folded back into the process, enabling continuous improvement.
The benefits of this initiative range from improved relationship and communications with local emergency responders, heightened awareness of emergency response to Rockwell Collins employees, and reduced downtime in operations. An example of this happened in 2005 when three shifts of downtime were avoided due to this new approach. The process was subsequently documented in RC-ESH-P-602, a company document that is now used as a governance procedure to ensure sustainment.
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