SPECIAL TO THE DIGITAL EDITION
photographs, and resources that will be called in to re- spond to an incident will help the fire department un- derstand what they will be dealing with in an emergency and what resources the responsible party will bring to the table.
When developing the emergency response plan, it is im- perative to determine the capabilities of the local civil responders. Are they fulltime or part-time? What is their level of hazardous material training? Do they have knowl- edge of facilities hazards and processes? What response equipment is available? Responding fire departments are often better equipped to provide targeted response ef- forts when they have at least a basic familiarity of a facil- ity obtained during a non-emergency site visit. Make sure that your fire department knows that it is not always best practice to put “wet stuff on the red stuff”—that is, water from a hazmat fire may create significant quanti- ties of hazardous waste, which can cause runoff, spread contamination, and create disposal problems. In some cases, the best practice may be to simply let the product burn. Note that some products absolutely cannot come into contact with water (e.g., cyanide pellets, sodium hy- drosulfate) and that information needs to be communi- cated with the fire department ahead of time.
Industrial hygienists should also be prepared to work with responding authorities such as OSHA and EPA so that worker safety and environmental considerations are han- dled properly. This may include engaging third-party re- sponse resources to assist with those relationships where appropriate. The IH needs to make sure that response
personnel are following OSHA substance-specific stan- dards where appropriate and relevant OSHA HAZWOPER standards and guidelines for hazardous waste operations.
Onsite and Offsite Concerns Addressing onsite and offsite issues ahead of time is an- other approach to improving the quality of emergency response. The former is directly related to protecting on- site workers when an emergency occurs. This can be a direct extension of existing hazard communication poli- cies and requires regular training and drills so that work- ers are accustomed to how they should react when a chemical emergency occurs—procedures for limiting chemical releases, evacuation routes, and so on. Equally important is the plan for dealing with offsite exposure concerns. Facilities should be familiar with their neigh- bors, whether they are other industrial facilities, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, residential neighbor- hoods, or other potentially sensitive receptors that must receive early notification when a chemical emergency arises. The local responders will initiate offsite evacua- tions and other actions; however, facilities can generate good will and a certain level of comfort with neighbors by being transparent about their operations and emer- gency actions before an accidental chemical release oc- curs. Very closely related to the issue of onsite/offsite exposures is the identification of resources to provide environmental monitoring for offsite receptors. This in- formation can be shared ahead of time to demonstrate the level of preparedness of the facility’s emergency re- sponse team.