Aligning the Incident Command System with Existing Business Management Systems
December 12, 2013 - Kestrel Management
Many companies are becoming more familiar with aligning management systems for quality, environment, health & safety, and food safety. An aligned management system brings together all of a company’s existing systems into one management structure, allowing businesses to efficiently and effectively improve performance, satisfy regulatory requirements, and reach organizational objectives.
The Incident Command System (ICS), a nationally and internationally recognized and standardized process of leadership and management of incident response, can—and should—also be part of an aligned business management system.
Leveraging Common Elements
The Incident Command System contains a number of elements in common with emergency plan requirements for the various management system standards (i.e., ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001, FSSC 22000)—from assessing risks and defining roles and responsibilities, to establishing specific operating controls, to communicating and conducting ongoing training. It is in the company’s best interest to align its contingency plans with these common elements, rather than establish independent plans that may have conflicting responses. Having alignment creates consistency and improves overall reliability, no matter the area.
There are two primary components of emergency response that are enhanced by the Incident Command System (ICS): 1.) emergency preparedness and planning, and 2.) business continuity planning. These components relate directly to many other management system requirements.
When it comes to emergency response, environmental, health & safety, food safety, and even quality management standards and applicable regulations require some level of emergency planning. For example, the Clean Air Act requires Risk Management Plans (RMP) for organizations that handle threshold quantities of hazardous materials; one of the 14 elements of OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) regulation is emergency planning and response; and food safety standards (e.g., FSSC 22000, BRC, SQF) require recall contingency planning.
Business Continuity Plan
The business continuity plan focuses on how to stay in business after an incident. Quality management standards under ISO 9001 emphasize processes and procedures for maintaining equipment, facilities, and suppliers during normal operations, but also through the incident response, stabilization, and restoration cycle. The U.S. EPA further has many restoration and remediation guidelines and requirements to factor into business continuity planning.
A large part of the Incident Command System involves defining roles and responsibilities and making sure that they are maintained through adequate training. Similarly, other management systems rely on defining roles and responsibilities to ensure the reliability of the system. Overlapping roles need to be consistent across the different systems. In addition, OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001 both have communication and training requirements that are consistent with those in the Incident Command System. Annual training plans should align and harmonize all required training, whether for the Incident Command System, health & safety, environmental compliance, or quality management.
Advantages of Alignment
A management system provides the framework that enables companies to achieve their operational and business objectives. Reliable and effective regulatory compliance is commonly an outcome of consistent implementation of an aligned management system.
An aligned system must still conform to the requirements of the individual standards in order to maintain a high level of credibility and effectiveness. But a truly aligned system is able to take advantage of the elements of the standards that are similar or the same. It then becomes a matter of making the system continually better. This not only reduces the effort and costs of conforming to applicable standards, it helps companies align objectives to improve the reliability of their management systems.
Your Business Continuity & Incident Command System (ICS) Resource
Kestrel’s core team comprises senior consultants with extensive EHS, quality management, operational risk management, and emergency response experience. We add to that expertise an industry leader with hands-on experience developing and establishing the Incident Command System, serving as an Incident Commander, and instructing the complete Incident Command System training coursework.
Our team can help you develop the systems and plans you need to effectively manage your business risks–no matter the size or complexity. For more information, contact us at 608-226-0531.
Submitted by: Tom Kunes