The National Incident Management System or NIMS defines an incident as “an occurrence, natural or manmade, that requires a response to protect life or property.” You must follow a clear action plan if an incident or event occurs at your workplace. Knowing what to do and where to go can keep heads calm in a crisis, which is one of the essential things when any type of accident, event, or problem occurs. You need people to be alert without panicking, which is where an incident action plan comes in.
Key Elements of a Successful Incident Plan is a carefully constructed plan that will give you and those you work with a clear-cut plan to follow if something that requires serious attention happens.
This article aims to break down the five elements that make up any successful incident action plan. Let’s get into the first element.
1. Gathering Information and Conducting a Risk Assessment
If an incident occurs at your workplace, your first course of action should be to figure out what occurred. By learning about the incident as quickly as possible, you’ll be able to react better to the events that took place. Some of the details that you’ll want to figure out include:
- Where the event took place
- Who was involved
- What materials may have been involved
- How many people or areas of a workplace/facility were affected
- Whether there were any injuries and their extent
- When the incident occurred
Learning all this information is imperative to knowing what authorities or emergency services to contact during an incident. Ideally, no one will be affected by an event occurring, but every outcome needs to be accounted for.
2. Setting Clear Objectives and Priorities
Any good incident action plan will come with clear objectives that people involved can follow. One clear objective that needs to be established quickly is where people should gather in the event of an incident. Clearly labeling gathering points for an incident is crucial in ensuring that people in your organization or workplace know where to go when something happens.
A place to go is the most obvious example of an objective, but what about priorities? These could include identifying people who need medical assistance and the subsequent calling of relevant authorities.
Another priority to keep in mind is whether the event or incident is still ongoing. If there was a fire, chemical leak, or another kind of problem, it could be a priority to determine if it is still going on. Knowing who is responsible for determining this is something pertinent that should be outlined in any competently designed incident action plan.
3. Developing Strategies for Incident Response
Any quality incident action plan will outline steps you should follow in an emergency. Strategies that might be planned include identifying clear routes that personnel should follow, safety equipment that needs to be utilized in different kinds of events, and allocating certain resources in the event of an incident.
4. Putting Your Incident Action Plan Into Action
Having an incident action plan is a great first step when trying to keep every part of your personnel safe and sound during a crisis, but not knowing how to put that plan into action essentially makes it useless. Knowing who is assigned what role, what areas are marked as ideal gathering points, and what equipment should be utilized is all quite important.
However, adaptability is the most essential part of any incident action plan. Each plan should outline and highlight key deviations so people know what to do if something outside the norm occurs. In other words, what do you do when what wasn’t supposed to happen happens?
To ensure your workplace or organization’s reaction to an emergency or event goes smoothly, your incident action plan should identify methods of communication that you’ll be able to achieve during any kind of emergency. An ideal incident action plan will identify different ways that key figures and leaders in the organization will be able to communicate with each other, relevant authorities and emergency response teams.
5. Evaluating Your Incident Action Plan
Once you’ve completed the first draft of your incident action plan, there are a few steps you need to take to test out its effectiveness. Going over the plan with various first responders and safety experts is a significant step to undertake, as it will identify areas of improvement in your plan that you’ll be able to fix. Knowing what areas need improving as soon as possible is imperative to prepare for an incident.
If an incident occurs and your incident action plan is followed, review it afterward. Once everyone is safe and your facilities have been secured, it will be helpful to you to ensure everything went as smoothly as possible. Identifying areas where communication might have lapsed or evacuation routes weren’t precisely followed is important. You can improve your plan by singling out mistakes until it is as ideal as possible.
Perfecting Your Incident Action Plan
Unfortunately, there is no perfect incident action plan. No matter how detailed or precise any plan is, an incident that throws everything to the wayside and disrupts normal protocol is inevitable. However, you can still be as prepared as possible, so we highlighted these five elements to incorporate into your organization’s plan. We hope this information will prove useful to you.