Availability of Site Plans in a Health and Safety Emergency
In the article titled "Importance of Accurate Inventories for Health and Safety" we saw how keeping accurate inventories regarding the types and quantities of hazardous substances that are stored on site is so important for the emergency services when it comes to organising the containment of the site, and preventing any further damage to the safety and health of people (both workers and members of the public) and that of the local environment.
Not only are the type and quantity of substances critically important with regards to influencing the containment and the remedial actions to be taken, but also the plans of the site are normally of vital significance too. The topography of the land can affect certain actions, for instance large volumes of water used to put out fires can end up washing harmful chemicals onto the surrounding land and watercourses. Not only this, but site plans should have marked on them the location of gas pipes and other such items which can obviously have serious consequences for the health and safety of everybody in the area as fires or ruptures to this pipe can cause a sizeable explosion. The site plan may not only contain potential hazards, but also necessary features for tackling the emergency such as clearly marked locations of fire hydrants.
Keep The Site Plan Accessible
Having a detailed site plan is of little value though if it is hidden away somewhere and possibly even lost. It needs to be easily accessible, and its location known by many different people in case one or two are away from the site on the day of the accident. This will allow it to be given to the emergency services and used by them to prevent further damage and danger, as well as helping to bring under control and put right the initial incident.
It is also a good idea to have a number of copies of the site plan located at various points around the site. Not only will this help for speedier locating of a plan, but will also mean there are others available should one be stored in an area which has been badly damaged by fire or other factor causing the location to be inaccessible.
Keep The Plan Current
Obviously the site plan needs to be kept constantly up-to-date, including all copies. Having a site plan which does not contain all of the elements or features which are actually present can endanger lives and make what could have started as a fairly minor incident into a catastrophic disaster for both people's health and the environment.