The Sapira process was conceived to reflect a logical structured approach to integrated management. Every organisation,large or small, needs to consider,”what if”. The unplanned incident, or emergency, that will inevitably happen. Management System standards, like ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, include references to emergency preparedness and, at long last, the standards themselves are starting to include common elements, reinforced by PAS 99 the Publicly Available Specification for Integrated Management.
My first experiences in the spill industry came when I started my first company in this market, Spilkleen. A company I originally invested in and then eventually bought outright to use as a platform in the development of a new range of recycled waste paper absorbents which to this day are still branded Spilkleen. I suppose it’s my scientific background, others call it my control freak approach, but I needed a more logical approach to specifying spill products. What frustrated me greatly, and still does to this day, were the stand alone almost silo like mentality , that some companies adopt towards their spill kit purchasing? I think the problem is, that until you have experienced the trauma,stress and repercussions of ill-conceived emergency plans, we all believe that budgets can be better spent on the real objectives of our organisation.
Incidents that can cause significant business interruptions have a habit of developing from relatively small events. In fact, if there is one thing I have learnt over the last few years, most large organisations have the resources and plans in place to allow them to weather the major storm. BP’s recent experiences prove the point however, that it’s the little incidents, that fall below the invocation point for a major incident, that have a habbit of catching you out. These little incidents happen much more often and, whilst we get away with most of them, one day that little problem, that starts as a minor leak, will blow up in our face, literally !!!!
So the moral behind this, not so little, blog is; How do we prepare and plan for each and every incident large or small and, most importantly, justify the expense and investment required to do the job properly and get the “powers that be” to invest?
Well there is the first problem. I’ve always been a believer that leadership comes from the top. Directors who consider themselves to busy, or to important, to dirty their hands on what are considered trivial, unlikely events, do so at their peril. A truly resilient organisation will be one that has adopted a whole business approach to incident management. Holistic Business Continuity Management should deliver exactly what it says on the tin. That means that whilst everyone knows their role, during business as usual, they also know their different roles during incidents or emergencies. More than likely these roles will be different. Being the MD doesn’t automatically mean you should be Incident Manager as well.
I can’t say it often enough. The application of the Sapira process can help in making sure that your incident and emergency management plans are considered, appropriate and integrated across the whole organisation. Like all good plans or projects knowing where you are as an organisation, your strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities just makes common sense to me. We all get bamboozled by management speak. The best managers keep it simple and more importantly see the problem coming and are one step ahead before it happens. Taking a sporting analogy it’s funny how many times I hear people make comments about ageing professional footballers or rugby players. “He’s not as quick as he used to be but he always seems to be one step ahead of the game and seems to know where the ball will be before it gets there ! Could this be because experience and practice gives you a six sense of just knowing that things feel right and what’s going to happen next ? Or is it just luck !
The Sapira Process
Step 1 – Survey and Assessment. (or in the words of Argenti. Where are we now?)
If you dont know what the question is how can you prepare the answer ? I’ve always been at odds with the Plan,Do,Check,Act approach extoled within todays management system standards. By all means develop a plan, but sticking with the sporting analogy, let’s know what pitch we are playing on first.
This is where the process of site sectoring gets it’s routes. Applying the Sapira process to the development of appropriate, spill response/incident management plans allows those with the knowledge, correct training and equipment, to respond properly to local spill incidents when they occur. Bringing to bear the full resources of the organisation, in an integrated and planned manner should they be required.
Experience teaches me that its impossible to apply a generic approach to spill contingency planning. Far better to let the people with the knowledge of an area, a risk cell by our definition, identify the likely hazards well ahead of them actually occurring and then pre plan a series of contingency plans, risk cell method statements. This is effectively what “Site Sectoring” means. Survey your site, and divide it into a series of risk cells, where, through risk assessment, you can develop and train the staff in that area to respond. A risk cell should have boundaries. Fall back positions or physical barriers where the hazards created by likely incidents can be contained. The purpose of site sectoring is therefore to split your site/location into appropriate pieces that allow you to assess the hazards that could occur in each risk cell. Risk rate and rank them. This simple bit of preparation will then allow you to resource each risk cell accordingly. Done properly, with the correct application of all of the risk assessment elements you can constantly refine the site sectoring approach. The Sapira process, is afterall a cyclical approach. The secret, as we’ve said before, is to know what pitch you are playing on.
Organisations who still maintain seperate departments for Health, Safety and Environment need to think again. Add onto this the mistake of keeping security in another “silo” and you are just ensuring that when that unplanned incident occurs everyone will have different agendas and, like all good Sunday morning football events, they might be playing on the same field but are actually on different pitches, and therefore shooting at different goals.
My next blog will deal with Planning. The P in the Sapira process and yet again it’s about preparation, preparation and more preparation……