Section 30 of the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 defines an emergency incident as ‘an unexpected sudden occurrence, involving a major emission, fire or explosion leading to danger to the public or potentially serious pollution of or detriment to the environment, whether immediate or delayed’. The relevant authority includes the municipality with jurisdiction over the area in which the incident occurs. The aim of a Contingency Plan is to reduce human injury, damage to property and environment in an emergency.
The purpose for contingency planning is to better enable a business or organization to mitigate disruption to the enterprise. Should disruptions occur, and they do all too often, the enterprise must be able to resume normal business activities as quickly as possible. The inability to restore normal operations will have an adverse economic impact on the enterprise. The extent of the impact will correspond to the extent of the disruption or damage. If the damage is severe and the mitigation of such damage has not been properly planned for, the effect could be catastrophic, even to the extent of failure of the business.
Essentially, contingencies fall into three categories:
- Those that impact the business infrastructure (fire, severe weather, and earthquakes: see the definition of hazards further in this section) causing physical damage.
- Those that impact people, such as accidents, seasonal illnesses (influenza), epidemics, or pandemics causing harm to employees, rendering them unavailable to work.
- Those that impact the reputation of the business (such as a product defect leading to a recall), causing resources to be diverted from normal operations to recovery and/or restoration. Each contingency has the potential to disrupt normal business operations to some degree. A minor building fire may disrupt operations in a limited way for only a couple of days, whereas a major fire may destroy an entire factory, completely stopping operations for an extended period.
Contingency planning is a continuous process
It is not something that can be done once and put away only to be retrieved when needed. It is a continuous process requiring periodic updates and revisions as appropriate to, and consistent with, changing business conditions. It also involves implementing and maintaining awareness and training elements. Those personnel with contingency planning responsibilities require periodic familiarization with plans and processes and training on new techniques and methods. The process of contingency planning should be designed to achieve the following:
- Secure and protect people. In the event of a crisis, people must be protected (employees, visitors, customers, and suppliers).
- Secure the continuity of the core elements of the business (the infrastructure and critical processes) and minimize disruptions to the business.
- Secure and protect all information systems that include or affect supplier connections and customer relationships.
KCM prepares a Contingency Plan as per the following:
- The nature and degree of the emergency.
- Ensure safe and swift evacuation of employees.
- Identifying those responsible, their specific duties and the resources required.
- Effective communication between the person authorised to coordinate the emergency response and all persons at the workplace.
- Notification and alerting of emergency services at the earliest opportunity.
- Medical treatment and assistance.
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