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September 2, 2011

What To Do In A Crisis: A First Hour Response Checklist

Summary:

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Step One: Senior Person On-Site

___   Contact emergency services by dialing 9-1-1.
___   Call the Company emergency hotline (as appropriate)/Corporate Office and Team Leader.
___   Contact the Corporate Safety Director.
___   Determine who the witnesses are and debrief as quickly as possible.
___   Initiate site control and determine if the site should be shut down.
___   Conduct a head count to make certain that all employees are accounted for.
___   Do not move anything that could be classified as evidence. Keep intact until Safety Representatives (or other appropriate company official) is onsite.
___   Ensure telephone coverage at the site. Restrict use of two way radios.
___   Inform site personnel to direct requests from outside groups to you.
___   Post workers to restrict entry to the site. Only those authorized will be permitted entry and identification must be shown.
___   Keep selected individuals on-site to help with the incident. Be aware of possible second entry attempts.
___   Notify the crisis management Team Leader.
___   Establish a command center.
___   Select a temporary spokesperson to issue a buy-time statement if the media arrives (see below).
___   If the site will be shut down, tell workers when they are to report back to work and that critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) will be available (if applicable). Also, to direct information requests from outside groups to you and to contact their families to let them know they are OK.

What To Say If The Media Calls
“My name is ( ) and I am (title) with (Company name). The incident has just happened and I am not prepared to answer any questions at this time. Please stay in this safety area so we can do our job and take care of the situation. I need to return to the site, but either (spokesperson) or I will be back at (time) with an update. Thank you.

Important: Do not take any questions at this time. If badgered, simply state that you need to get back to the site and you will return at stated time.

Step Two: Team Leader

___   Determine what happened, when/where it happened, and who is involved.
___   Verify the current status of the site (shut down?).
___   Determine whether you and/or spokesperson are needed on site.
___   Notify corporate management.
___   Advise the receptionist on how to route calls.
___   Identify potential spin-off crises.
___   Notify Corporate Human Resources and/or Corporate Industrial Relations.
___   Initiate conference call number and have time/number available for crisis management team for status updates.

Step Three: Safety Representative

___   Contact the Corporate Safety Director.
___   Call the Corporate emergency number.
___   Coordinate with team leader for critical incident stress debriefing (CISD).
___   Gather number/names of injured and/or fatalities and obtain phone number(s) of the spouse(s)/family(ies). Contact the team leader to determine who should notify the spouse(s)/family(ies).
___   Debrief workers who witnessed the incident.
___   Begin incident investigation.
___   If necessary, initiate a post-incident drug/alcohol test (call Industrial Relations).
___   Designate someone to stay with the injured worker(s) at the hospital until family members arrive.
___   Document the incident in writing and on film.

Step Four: Team Leader

___   If there is an employee injury/fatality, determine who will notify spouse(s)/family(ies). A fatality may require a personal visit.
___   If the injury/fatality is a subcontractor’s employee, it is the subs responsibility to notify the spouse/family.
___   If a non-employee is hurt/killed, allow the authorities to make the notification. Call the Corporate emergency number.
___   Inform any surrounding areas that may be affected by the incident.
___   Instruct employees at the incident site to contact their families to let them know they are okay.

Step Five: Spokesperson

___   Write, and get clearance for, all statements and releases.
___   Designate someone to screen your calls from the news media.
___   Complete the media log sheets.
___   Anticipate media questions. If possible, role play a media interview with a colleague before going live.
___   Assemble necessary background information and literature.
___   If you elect to give the media a tour, make certain that the area is safe and that they are escorted by a company representative. Issue safety equipment and require a hold-harmless agreement be signed, if necessary.
___   Instruct reporters on your safety procedures before going on-site. If they violate any of the procedures, you have the right to ask them to leave.
___   Advise reporters of a time and place for future updates.
___   Follow-up on additional media inquiries.

Step Six: Team Leader Coordination With Corporate

___   Identify the audiences that need to be contacted for update purposes.
___   Gather details on past negative issues which the media may refer to.
___   Fax/e-mail/voice mail all employees and job sites to notify them of the incident and tell them to whom they should direct media/general information calls. Provide on-going updates.
___   Establish an emergency message mailbox for employees to access if office operations have been impacted.
___   Track all media coverage via a monitoring service and the Internet.
___   Secure and offer critical-incident stress counseling for employees who witnessed the incident or were nearby.

Step Seven: Executive Management

___   Maintain close contact with the team leader to determine involvement.
___   Approve all statements/communications to the outside world.
___   Work closely with legal counsel.
___   In the event of injury/fatality be prepared to make the visit/call to the family.
___   In the event of a highly visible crisis be prepared to make the initial statement to the news media…with no Q & A.
___   Establish and maintain communication with employee base and other audiences.

It is important to remember, this is the list of action items just within the first two hours of a crisis. This does not solve the whole crisis. This is one part of a comprehensive crisis communications plan. Training, education and practice are keys to success in this process.

Your front-line folks will do a marvelous job for you, yet need to know how this fits into the overall success of a company’s crisis communications plan. A crisis can go on for days, be prepared and be crisis plan smart!

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About the Author

Nancy Moorhouse, CSP is a multi-faceted, multi-talented business partner in the risk management/workers’ compensation/safety consulting industry. With more than 28 years of experience, she influences clients in culture change and progress.

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