Society has gained tremendous benefits from the manufacturing and application of chemicals. Chemical substances are useful in numerous ways and affect nearly all aspects of human activities. Highly notable are the industrial and agricultural activities which depend heavily the use of various chemical substances. Chemical use is also prevalent in the daily lives of society, for instance in the production of cosmetics, cleaning detergent, gas for cooking, insecticide and pesticides, petroleum substances for fuel and medicinal purposes related to disease prevention and cure.
Safe Handling of Chemicals
However, any mishandling of these chemical can have hazardous consequences in terms of health and the environment. There have been numerous instances where chemical substances have caused enormous damage to property, environment and even harm to people, even resulting in death. Paints, for example, can be highly inflammable. Furthermore, if inhaled they can cause respiratory problems for the painters including suffocation. Drugs are also very important but pose the risk of causing death especially if used for unintended purposes. A number of chemicals are naturally corrosive while others are highly explosive especially when exposed to elements such as air, heat, water or light. There also those chemical substances that are highly reactive when mixed together, thus causing harm in a number of ways. Chemical that possess any of these adverse characteristics are referred to as hazardous chemicals. Hazardous chemicals are those which are potentially very harmful to living things and to the entire environment. Exposure to these substances can cause adverse health effects to people, such as breathing problems, poisoning, skin rashes, allergic reactions and all sorts of cancers. A number of hazardous chemicals are classified as dangerous goods; which are those that can cause explosions, fires, corrosion, as well as hazardous reactions if handled inappropriately. It is therefore necessary to treat these hazardous chemicals as a big risk especially in a workplace by ensuring that they are stored properly, and managed and handled to avoid harm to workers, members of the public, and to prevent them from contaminating properties as well as the environment. It is in fact very vital for entities to have standby emergency processes in place at workplaces especially in sectors where assorted chemicals are involved. This paper focuses on the emergency management of hazardous chemicals in workplaces. To do this effectively, the paper delineates the necessary procedures that should be followed by the emergency manager in ensuring adequate mitigation of risks that emanate from erroneous handling of hazardous chemicals. In addition, the paper describes the subsequent steps after mitigation, including preparedness, response and recovery processes from the harm that can result from such risks.
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Mitigation of the risks associated with hazardous chemicals first entails planning. In this process, the emergency manager should identify the hazardous chemicals in the workplace by thoroughly scrutinizing labels as provided by the safety data sheet (Dikshith, 2013). The SDS is a document that lists the chemical and what its physical properties are. They also contain advice on safe storage, handling as well as the disposal of hazardous chemical substances. In line with that, the manager should be well-informed on the protective equipment required to be worn and the emergency procedures that he/she should follow in the event of an accident. With the help of the SDS, the emergency manager labels the chemicals with such words as hazardous, poison, warning, harmful, corrosive, and dangerous poison among others. This is the kind of information that can be helpful for him or her in assessing the risks that can arise from the use of the chemical and the extent to which it may occur. Thereafter they will be in the right position to develop a proper plan on how to deal with those risks should they occur.
The second step in mitigation involves avoiding and preventing situations that may cause risks when handling chemicals (Dikshith, 2013). This can be possible after the manager has assessed the extent of the risk should it occur. They should constantly be checking to ascertain what kind of people, property or environments are highly susceptible to a certain risk. For instance some people may be face the risk of accidentally ingesting chemicals after touching them with their bare hands, inhaling of especially fumes and chemical dust, and getting it on their skin, among other risks. Having determined these risks, the manager must then consider how to avoid exposure to such hazardous chemicals while ensuring safe storage and handling. They will also avoid ignition sources around substances that are flammable or simply ensure that chemicals which are highly reactive do not come into contact with each other. Similarly, they should occasionally carry out exposure and health monitoring exercises on those who live or work in proximity with hazardous chemicals to ascertain the status of exposure to the said risks.
To strengthen the mitigation process, the emergency managers are tasked with developing a risk management plan. This is a detailed record of their assessment for the potential risks including information on the kind of decisions that should be made about the risks and how they can be avoided. They should also stipulate the safety measures to be followed by every worker and regularly update them whenever new chemicals are brought into the premises (DiBerardinis et el., 2013). Employees who resign or rather retire from this job should also be thoroughly checked for levels of carcinogens. Staff members that are found to contain traces of this hazardous substance would be advised to schedule an appointment with oncologists to receive treatment.
The emergency manager is also charged with the responsibility of minimizing and eliminating risks that emanate from hazardous chemicals. Limiting the risks can best be done through isolation method, which involves the substitution of chemicals which are more harmful or reactive with those that are less reactive and through engineering controls. If a risk remains imminent even after employing all these methods, the administrative controls should be employed, including procedures of adequate employee training and conspicuous display of labels containing signs and warnings. Other mechanisms of limiting risks may entail the use of personal protective equipment. This however is heavily dependent on human behavior and or supervision practices while at work.
The final process in the mitigation of risks involves having easy access to the emergency agencies such as the fire brigade, poison control and law enforcement. This means that emergency managers should have hotlines linking them to these agencies so that they can contact them promptly (Crouth & Vrscak, 2012). It is often the case that risks emanating from hazardous chemicals adversely affect the victims because of a lack of quick access to the agencies responsible for dealing with these emergencies. Prompt communication during emergencies can help reduce the extent of harmful risks.
Apart from putting into place all the necessary mitigating measures, the emergency manager should also ensure adequate preparedness for any potential threat. This entails organizing measures in the manner in which they plan to handle the emergencies should they arise. Part of organization involves having a clear roadmap for the implementation of the emergency response plan for hazardous materials. This roadmap should be at the disposal of all those responsible for emergency control and should also involve use of right applications for that purpose (Noll et el., 2012). The urgency of the response which is stipulated in the plan determines the manner in which these applications are selected. Similarly, they must ensure that monitoring equipment is in place and functional. This includes the smoke and fumes’ signals, heat detectors and hydrometers for gaging the levels of humidity, among others. With these equipment, the firm will always alerted whenever any emergency occurs during the use, handling or storage of hazardous chemicals. In addition, the emergency managers should also ensure proper the selection of specialized personal protective equipment for use during emergencies.
All of the workers should be trained in good time on how to use the equipment so that they are prepared to handle any emergency that arises. Similarly, as part of preparedness, emergency managers should perform advance control, confinement and containment operations. This entails grouping hazardous chemicals according to the risk associated with their use, storage and handling. Some risks occur due to disorganization in terms of handling and storage of these chemicals. This consequences of this are usually far reaching. When managers remain vigilant about this, they can help their entities evade the enormous risks that would otherwise be detrimental to the entire organization, the employees as well their families, property and the environment. Decontamination procedures should also be implemented on a regular basis. This is especially important for eliminating whatever imminent risks that would have been posed as a result of the use of certain chemicals (Selin, 2010). Finally, managers should regularly participate in hazard and risk assessment as well as develop a site safety and control plan. This will demonstrate how organized they are and how prepared they are to tackle any emergency that would threaten the organization.
Involving Other People
Another significant step in preparedness is the involvement of other people in the required procedures of risk preparedness. The staff should be directly involved, especially in the assessment of the quantity of chemical substances to be stored, following the directives given in the labels. Similarly, they need to wholly establish how long they are able to store those substances, the identity of toxic substance and establishment of the stability of each substance within the prevalent conditions. The unanimous checking of the containers is also essential to ascertain risks of each chemical by scrutinizing the labels contained on them. They should ensure safe location, design and installation handling and storage systems such as tanks and sacking systems. They must separate substances that are incompatible to prevent reactive chemicals from interacting with each other.
Furthermore, they will be responsible for controlling the potential sources of ignition that are available around substances that are flammable (Selin, 2010). They will also equip themselves with the appropriate safety signage and placards to ensure they remain safe from the harm that may arise from coming into contact with the hazardous materials. They should be keen to notice any spill containers and have a cleaning system in place to deal with any spillages. The firefighting equipment should also be on standby, well equipped and easily accessible to put out any possible fires. The emergency managers should ensure that all workers in the organization are conversant on how to operate the firefighting equipment. Above all, the people in the organization should make sure that all the chemicals under use are securely locked away to avoid unauthorized access by non-employees.
Furthermore, all those who may be involved in the transportation of hazardous chemicals should avoid packing chemicals together with water or food substances. Food may in the process become contaminated while water may react with certain elements in the chemicals to cause fire or harmful gases (Crouth & Vrscak, 2012). Also while transporting, those responsible must ensure that the chemicals which are reactive are not placed together. This means that emergency managers should ensure that transporters are acquainted with the rules on separation and segregation for transporting mixed classes of hazardous chemicals so that they are secured during the motion of the vehicle. It is also necessary to keep a record of all the contents they are carrying together with the requisite precautionary measures on how to handle them. In the same breath, those transporting the chemicals should ensure that the vehicle being used for that matter contains the required signs and equipment so that the public is aware that harmful substances are in transit. The emergency manager should ensure the driver entrusted with the transportation of these hazardous chemicals is fully trained in emergency procedures and at the same time is a well trained and experienced driver. Similarly, they should possess valid driving licenses to avoid technicalities while transporting the substances and being found on the wrong side of the law.
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Coordination with the Relevant Agencies and Departments
Another step of preparedness in emergency management of hazardous chemicals involves proper coordination with relevant emergency agencies responsible for handling emergencies (Mannan, 2013). This is vital because it allows for the adequate flow of information regarding risks on a frequent basis. The emergency manager must ensure that departments in charge of emergencies adhere to the required standards of management of risks and are routinely taking part in drills to deal with any emerging risk. They will also ensure that the risk detectors are in good condition and that the faulty ones are replaced in order to avoid communication breakdowns should an emergency occur. Those responsible with the inspection of fire extinguishers and personal protective equipment should do so routinely and ensure proper record keeping alongside report writing to the relevant agencies. Through this kind of planning, the organization at large will be more than prepared for any eventuality and from whichever section it may occur. Other emergency agencies outside the organization should from time to time provide advisory services to emergency managers who should then ensure they are well implemented. This will enable the organization to remain compliant with the required provisions of handling and using hazardous chemicals (Gallant, 2006).
Identifying the Problem
The emergency managers should ensure the prompt identification the problems that may arise or exists in the organization pertaining to the manner in which chemicals are handled, used and stored. The identification of problems and subsequent recommendations can save the organization on costs should an accident occur (Mannan, 2013). This means that the manager should occasional conduct inspections of the system to identify where there might be a looming problem. In the event of a real problem, the manager should quickly evaluate its magnitude and identify opportunities to solve them. This will enable him/her come up with the appropriate mechanisms to best help in combating that very problem. After identifying the problem, the manager usually endeavors to set goals that are time bound in order to tackle that problem before an imminent risk strikes. Since problems are actually warning signs, they should be treated with much concern as they can act as loopholes through which danger may penetrate. Similarly, problems are also the basis for the emergency managers to explore alternative strategies which aim at preventing it from happening again in future. Managers should not only focus on the short-term solutions but should also find long-term solutions to the problem and all other possible related problems that are imminent. This calls for a broad based research into the causal effects of the problem in question and, based on this, appropriate solutions may be sought.
Planning For Appropriate Action
Planning is another critical aspect of preparedness in emergency management. This ultimately determines whether or not the organization has the capacity to handle a potential emergency. It is upon the emergency managers to ensure that emergencies are properly anticipated for before they occur. He or she should first ensure that emergency detectors are in good condition because these are what would cause an alarm should there be a risk. Fire-fighting equipment should always be available and well-maintained. All workers should be supplied with personal protective equipment whenever they are on duty to avoid being caught unawares during emergencies. The organization should also ensure that there are emergency escape routes which are free from any huddles of grills to allow for quick evacuation of the premises during emergencies.
The ambulance vehicles should also be a part of the planning. These will be very useful during emergencies for ferrying casualties to the hospital for emergency treatment. Furthermore, the premises should provide free access to the roads to allow for quick access to and from the emergency scene. Similarly, the emergency manager should also ensure that the first aid department is fully functional and well-equipped with experts and necessary facilities that would be essential for emergency situations. Finally, he or she should ensure that all hotlines to emergency departments and the police are functional and can be accessed by all workers during emergencies. This is a good way through which they can show that the organization is ready for any eventuality and, should an emergency occur, the extent of damage will be less widespread compared to situations when little or no planning has been made. It is also a way for emergency managers to ensure that they are proactive rather than waiting to make haste decisions and arrangement when emergencies arise.
On Call Safety Officers
Proper preparedness for emergencies in organizations that deal with hazardous chemicals can only be seen and evaluated based on the manner in which the organization responds to emergencies. Since emergencies are usually unpredictable and spontaneous, the emergency department should be agile in responding to it. This is because the earlier it is dealt with, the better it is for the victims, the property and the environment at large. The emergency manager should first get in touch with on-call-safety officers once the alarm for an emergency has sounded. These will then quickly alert all the relevant emergency departments who immediately and promptly prepare to respond the emergency depending on it nature. In case of fire, the fire brigade is quickly notified and dispatches the fire engine to the scene of emergency to combat the fire. As this is going on, the rescue and evacuation process would also be in effect. All workers should understand their roles and expectations during such emergencies with limited confusion even when the situation is chaotic.
The focus should be on the source of the risk. The response teams should work not just to mitigate the risk but also safeguard the state of the property as well as lives that would be in danger at the scene. This means that the method of combating should be done in a cautious way as to avoid adding more harm to an already dangerous situation. They should ensure that the response is accompanied by action that appropriate matches the level of emergency. This is because failure to establish the appropriate means of approach can cause a lot of confusion and wastes critical time and resources. Many fatalities associated with emergencies occur because of mistakes that are caused by delays in response to emergencies. In case of fire outbreak, time is of the essence. Delays can easily frustrate the efforts of the emergency teams, especially as the smoke begins to collect. Smoke can be more dangerous since it caused obscurity in visibility and can also cause suffocation to the rescue teams as well as victims.
Other emergencies such as the corrosion of chemicals can also be very dangerous in responding to and require full knowledge about the type of elements engaged in the reaction. Rescuers should also understand the type of action to take to rescue people who are suffering from corrosion, choking or who have inhaled chemical substances. Failure to have adequate knowledge about these steps may only create more problems for the victims. The organization should also work hand in hand with law enforcement in responding to emergencies. This is necessary since the police are best trained in the art of emergency response and collaborating officers with can be of great advantage to the organization.
In addition, since they are the one entrusted with the role of accounting for the damage of property and filing police reports, it is perfectly within their prerogative to assist in handling such cases. Finally, if there are technicalities arising in the process of responding to emergencies, it would be better for the emergency managers to quickly review and even amend the response plan to suit the nature of the emergency that they are dealing with. Circumstance may arise when even the planners are caught off guard and they therefore need to have the flexibility to shift gears to suit the situation. In that case, it is always in order for the emergency managers to have a plan ‘B’ in place, so that just in case the original plan fails, they will have a backup option. While planning for a response mission, it is vital to explore all possible dangers that may arise in the organization of that caliber.
For each case, the managers should develop an emergency response plan that is appropriate and train all the workers to be aware of their roles. Although it is good to be optimistic and vigilant so as to avoid situations that may cause emergencies, being prepared to respond to them as they emerge, is something worthwhile in all organizations that deal with hazardous chemicals. Failure to prepare can put the whole system in a difficult situation even if, on the surface, the risk should seem simple to deal with. Again, failure to adequately prepare for emergency situations can cause intense panic and anxiety which will in fact deprive the staff of the confidence of dealing with the emergency in the manner that is expected of them. They may end up adopting incredible measures in responding to it oblivious of the danger that they would be causing to already pathetic situation. That is why the wise say that ‘failure to plan is indeed planning to fail’. Ultimately, a situation that would have otherwise been manageable becomes a perilous ordeal to deal with.
Definition and Effects
Apart from planning responses to emergencies, the emergency manager is also expected to prepare a recovery plan. This involves all actions that are well designed and properly coordinated to mitigate effects of potential emergencies. Every emergency would obviously be associated with some effects to people, properties as well as the environment. In its aftermath, the victims of emergencies in particular require help in order to recover from its consequences. The effects coupled with emergencies are categorized into physical, social and economic outcomes. The physical effects entail damage caused to buildings, property and vehicles. Apart from that, it involves the alterations that are made on the landscape, especially when the emergency involves fires or the spilling of harmful chemicals. Contamination in the environment is also part of physical effect of emergencies. This may be as a result of industrial effluents that are discharged deliberately or accidentally in to water, land or in air. These are responsible for the eventual loss of biotic factors, loss of esthetic value of the environment and even climate change.
Apart from the physical effects of emergencies, there are also be social effects which include psychological trauma and stress that victims undergo during and after the emergency. This may be as a result of losing close friends, relatives or colleagues, the kind injuries sustained as a result of the emergency or the amount of property lost. Similarly, in urgent situations there is a tendency to focus on short-term goals at the expense of long-term goals. Some victims make decisions that only guarantee them comfort for the short period based on the apprehension and pain that they are experiencing at the actual moment of the emergency. Another effect may be the unnecessary delay experienced in the application of programs that play an important role in delivering social needs. Delays may occur because of a lack of proactive initiatives in the organization that would have experienced the kind of emergency. It may also be due to high magnitude of emergencies which may demand more time for appropriate programs to be put in place before they can deliver their services. Finally, the widening of gaps in the community’s economic classes is also another negative social effect. This occurs following the destruction of property, businesses, homes, caused by the catastrophic event.
Furthermore, emergencies also can cause economic effects which entail the destruction and loss of businesses. In the case of a community, it means workers are out of work and their livelihoods are now severely affected. Their lives therefore take a different turn following loss of their jobs. The company also has to grapple with the consequences of the emergency for a long time before it gets back to its feet. Subsequently residents of the community flee to other towns in search of jobs or remain unemployed in the areas affected by a major disaster. This also means higher levels of poverty and lower living standards. Finally, there would be adverse effects in terms of community investment. Businesses that had once flourished in the community would adversely be affected. This is because the potential market for the stocked commodities would have been disadvantaged and perhaps relocated to other places following a particular emergency in the organization.
Benefits of Recovery
The program for recovery after an emergency is very significant in a number of ways. First, the pain and loss that victims endure can be alleviated. The program may entail relocating them to a safer place to allow for better physical, emotional and psychological recovery. Those who sustained injuries may get free or subsidized and specialized medication and compensation. Those who have lost their loved ones may also be compensated apart from being assisted financially by the organization in terms of funeral arrangements. Although this may not replace the loss, it relieves the worry especially if the deceased victim was a sole breadwinner. Similarly, recovery programs protect the culture of the community. This will necessitate the community to come together in support of all those people who suffered harm as a result of the emergency. Here the character of the community will be highly influenced by the degree to which they manage the recovery process.
If the recovery is well managed, the victims are able to recover promptly and resume contributing to society. The poor management of recovery programs would mean that the community will be denied taxpayers, jobs, as well as significant features of the community that will frustrate the local economy. When done properly, the recovery process results in the reduction of economic losses and will contribute to greater market share for organizations and businesses that would be seeking new locations after the emergency. This will in the process boost the economy of the area in which the organization and victims come from. Finally, the recovery process fosters a sustainable community if it is well-implemented. This recovery programs makes the community resilient in and quickly resume normalcy after the emergency. This will make people strong enough to withstand future disasters because the enhanced overall community health.
Keys to Successful Recovery
Successful recovery after any emergency is based on visionary leadership and collaboration. Those charged with the responsibility of conducting recovery programs should galvanize organizations and individuals to give aid to victims of emergencies in line with the set objectives. After every emergency, victims are often left vulnerable in a number of ways. For example, they may lack shelter, clothing, food, medical attention and psychological and emotional wellbeing. Leaders should therefore create a plan in order to take into account all these emergent needs and try to mobilize people to meet victims at their points of need. This would include organizations that would provide accommodations for the victims during the period of recovery, and others who may offer financial assistance that would enable them get back to normalcy. Others may offer free services to the victims in terms of health care, transportation, and counseling. This kind of gesture is very helpful to the victims for they will find solace and even recover more quickly from the aftermath of the emergency. Collaboration between victims’ families and charitable organizations that offer humanitarian aid is also important. These will also speed up the rate at which victims will recover from the loss they would have encountered.
Guiding Principles of Recovery
In order for recovery to be effective, it has to follow certain guiding principles. Some of these entail avoiding causing more harm to the victims, the property and the environment. Every type of aid has the potential to cause both positive and negative effects. Manager should therefore ensure that the procedures adopted are geared towards maximizing benefits as they minimize harmful outcomes. For instance, when they relocate victim to other places after the emergency, care has to be taken so as not to expose them to highly risky aspects such as insecurity of places which are highly prone to natural calamities or contains an adverse climate (U.S. Department of Labor & Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 1997). In addition, the managers should be aware of people who might try to take advantage of the vulnerability of the victims. For instance, some may come in the name of offering humanitarian aid but instead steal the money intended to provide that aid. This indeed causes more harm than good to the already painful situation.
In addition, managers should provide appropriate leadership. Where this is deficient would be marred with many unscrupulous practices. These may include the duplication of roles or gaps in recovery services, among others. Managers are therefore entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring proper planning and delegation of responsibilities. They should also ensure that all those given certain responsibilities conduct them in a transparent and accountable manner. Another aspect is the fostering of collaboration. A number of recovery organizations are supposed to work together in collaboration to achieve specified goals and to undertake certain projects for mutual benefit. Recovery organizations ought to draft a plan that encourages collaborative ways of thinking and making of decisions. It should not unduly restrict or cause unnecessary constraints to the organizations. Through sharing of common goals in the recovery and promotion of respect for person’s diversity and mission, many organizations which contribute to recovery can become more effective and build a strong sense of community.
Furthermore, for any recovery process to be successful it has to empower all those victims of emergencies in a way that ensures their dignity is preserved. They should as well embrace their right to free choice, and demonstrate respect for their individual experiences. The task of recovery should encourage members to serve as advocates for the victims and provide necessary assistance to them. Similarly, emergency managers should be able to respond quickly as well as manage long-term planning. This is because certain recovery needs are urgent and therefore any small amount of help that is delivered in a timely manner may be far more beneficial than when it is delayed. In addition, targeted action and recovery task force need to actively engage the community in solving problems creatively and over the long term. In the same breath, managers ought to plan transition from emergency to normal services. This should be done in conjunction with the recovery task force which will prepare a comprehensive plan for transition. Afterwards it should be presented for consultation among the victims and other members of the larger community. Finally, the emergency managers should be aware of all the lessons learnt from every kind of emergency they encounter. The period of recovery often offers an important opportunity for them to derive lessons on what worked effectively and what strategies require improvement. The task force for recovery ought to make note the lessons by collecting of documents, conducting interviews to recovery clients and personnel, as well as recording the progress observed in the recovery process beginning from the first day of each activity (Fiksel, 2011).
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Crucial Steps in Recovery
In order to conduct chronological and successful recovery processes, emergence managers should set up a collaborative task force (U.S. Department of Labor & Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 1997). This will ensure that every aspect of recovery is looked into and well implemented in line with the set goals. However this task force should be well-orientated so as to eliminate cases of unscrupulous practices that may arise in the process. They should also be impartial and not having vested interests which may trigger conflict of interests in the event of trying to enforce it. Furthermore, managers are also charged with the responsibility of formulating the recovery organization mechanisms. Proper mechanisms for recovery are very crucial for they will help enable the task force recovery team to be discrete in their expenditures and cover all the areas that are mainly targeted in the recovery processes. It also ensures that every member is accountable and their actions transparent in whatever that they undertake. A lack of such mechanisms would in most cases result in the disorganized management of the program and hence increasing the chance of a negative outcome. If properly stipulated, the recovery process is likely to be effective and victims will be able to resume their normal lives more quickly.
The managers are also responsible for the recovery facilities. The recovery process might be ineffective if the right facilities are not in place. They should ensure they have adequate makeshift home tents to provide temporary shelter for victims who have lost their home due to raging fires or those who have developed injuries due to the harm caused by hazardous chemicals. These will quicken the process of recovery and offer the victims the comfort they need. Similarly, they should identify potential clients. Sometime the occurrence of an emergency might trigger enormous confusion whereby the response and recovery task force identify the wrong people as victims and begin rendering recovery services to them. To curb this situation, great care has to be taken so as to identify the clients who are eligible for the benefits provided by the program. Immediately after identifying the correct clients, the manager in conjunction with the task force personnel should conduct a comprehensive orientation for them and even the public that may be around either to offer help or for business. A thorough orientation eliminates the situation of confusion and other practices that are unwarranted. Alongside that, a detailed interview should be offered to clients to ascertain clear fact about their backgrounds and to establish their physical and emotional state.
Consequently, they should be offered thorough advice to help them cope with the situation and also give them encouragement and hope. Among the task force, there should be a resident counselor to reach to those who have suffered emotional anguish. Clients should then be assigned various resources to begin the recovery process. This should however be based on the priorities set according to the magnitude of need and the seriousness of damage that has been caused to their property. Certain resource may be unfamiliar to them and therefore would require a manual or theoretical explanation on how to use and or dispose them. During this process too, clients should be cautioned against violations of any precautionary measures which may result in another emergency during their process of recovery. When donations have been provided by well-wishers and humanitarian organizations, the recovery organizations need to make expeditious plans on how such aid may be distributed among the victims to help them on their way to recovery. This will call for proper matching of needs and the resources available to ensure that only the requisite beneficiaries access the right aid from benefactors.
Finally, managers should ensure that the task forces also help clients to transit gradually from recovery to services of the community. This is very important because it eliminates the possibility of clients becoming stigmatized and developing a victim’s mentality. Except for situations in which the victims are totally incapacitated, they should be encourages to pick up immediately and do certain things for themselves as well as for the community (U.S. Department of Labor & Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 1997). When there are professionals among the clients, they should immediately be helped to commence work even when they are still under humanitarian care. Business owners should also revamp their business activities and continue with their affairs as usual. Finally, able-bodied students should continue with their schooling.
Benefits of a Collaborative Workforce
The work of assisting victims of emergencies in recovery can be quite overwhelming and that is the reason why they require a collaborative task force. Among the benefits of this collaborative task force is the improvement of services. When the recovery task is done collaboratively, efficiency will be enhanced. Furthermore, collaboration reduces fragmentation as well as duplication of services. Members of the task force are bound to specialize in the tasks entrusted to them and therefore become more efficient than when they double up their roles. Similarly, collaboration expands capability and offers many opportunities for regular interaction between members and their clients. This healthy interaction is also significant during the process of recovery. Through this situation, the victims tend to open up more since they have people who are ready to listen to them (Kleindorfer & Kunreuther, 2012).
In the long-run they will discover that majority of their problems can be completely solved. Furthermore, collaboration reduces the costs incurred during the process of recovery. This is because the planned work can be accomplished in a short amount of time. In addition, the specialization maximizes effectiveness amounting to minimal waste and increased output. Finally, the well-coordinated collaborative workforce reduces frustration among the clients as well as those volunteering in the workforce. Frustration is eliminated following the ease at which tasks of recovery is managed unlike in the absence of the workforce.
Effects of Deficient Collaboration
Collaboration can result in positive or negative effects depending on the manner in which it is oriented and how it is generally managed by the emergency managers. Sometime the process results in conflict due to disagreements that may emerge in the process. This will therefore necessitate a conflict resolution process to be commenced concurrently in order to resolve the misunderstanding and help them focus on their roles. Some situations may trigger disappointment among the member and even the clients. This may be as a result of unmet needs or unaddressed grievances. Favoritism is also another potential outcome of collaboration, as one client may unfairly get priority over another. Another possible outcome is the availability of unnecessary items that have been donated for purposes of charity. Whenever emergencies occur, people around the world are galvanized into generating either financial or material aid. Some however ultimately donate things that may never be of help to the victims. Sometimes finding a way to store these items becomes a big challenge to the task force. In other cases, confusion arises in the course of service delivery which can cause a lot of tension during the recovery period. Such confusion also results in mismanagement of resources meant to be for the victims. Another devastating outcome involves receiving innumerable criticisms from the civil society. Owing to the manner in which recovery services are handled, sometime mistakes may be very conspicuous. This situation is received with mixed reactions from the public. Sometimes there is even loss of personal and communal property in the process of trying to render recovery services. In certain instances, a number of people may take advantage to vandalize the property of the victims as well as the organizations that would have suffered the risk of hazardous chemicals.
Obstacles to Holistic Recovery
Sometime the recovery process may not necessarily go as planned. Such circumstances may be created by the great magnitude of damage which inundates those responding to it as well as those helping in recovery (Noll et el., 2012). Besides, recovery may be curtailed by stringent regulations and policies that are stipulated for recovery. Perhaps the emergency would have occurred under extraordinary circumstances contrary to the expectations of planners. This therefore means that planners ought to be very flexible in their plans and should explore all possible ways through which emergencies can arise. Furthermore, the process may be inconvenienced based on limited financial resources which may be disproportional to the magnitude of the damage caused during the emergency. This may result in insufficient shelter to the victims. Scanty finances may also slow down the process of resettling victims and or finding better medical services for especially those who would have suffered multiple injuries. Apart from that, the propensity to yearn for quick return to normalcy is also another obstacle to holistic recovery. This usually compels some victims to isolate themselves from the rest of the victims because they feel they do not belong there. In the long-run such a situation may cause a Down syndrome making them to develop a low self-esteem due to stigma. In certain cases, a lack of awareness about the true possibilities of redevelopment as well as immediate change in the roles and procedures of local government may adversely affect the process of holistic recovery. This is characteristic especially in a setup where emergency preparedness is viewed as taboo and as a way of inviting trouble in the midst of inhabitants. When such an emergency therefore happens, such people would really be inconvenienced in managing it. This will subsequently affect the recovery process as well. Finally, in the search for extraordinary solutions to extraordinary problems, redundant communication among decision makers as well as poor response from government agencies are among the major setbacks to recovery process. Managers of emergency should be cognizant about that and set up mechanisms to circumvent them lest they end up adopting a management by crisis method.
Some of the plans that can suffice to avoid the aforementioned obstacles entail sustainable methods. This involve methods such as ensuring good quality lives of victims. Victims of emergencies need to be first given a comforting environment to enable them forgetting the pain incurred during the ordeal as well as speed up the rate of mental recovery. More so, vitality of the economy should be fast tracked to support the recovery programs. These would entail ensuring the best quality of the environment that would enable disaster resilience as well as the participatory process. Other programs will involve medical services for the victims, education for the children and general compensation for the loss they would have incurred during the emergency. On the other hand, the method of hazard mitigation should be highly emphasized. Organizations should understand the magnitude of cost that they would incur during the aftermath of the emergency in comparison to the cost implicated in the mitigation methods. This is downrightly proportional to the saying that ‘prevention is better than cure’. These methods of mitigation include proper planning, risk avoidance techniques, strengthening procedures, conserving especially the resources and the environment, limiting the effects of emergency as well as good communication. Finally, emergency managers should enforce methods that enhance smart growth. Smart growth refers to mechanisms that enable victims to not only resume their normal lives but also bring them up to speed to the level that they would have been in case the emergencies did not occur. Examples of these are comprehensive planning to be proactive, compact urban areas, mixed land use, to avoid overreliance on one aspect, transportation opportunities, staged substructures, human-scale design as well as predictable review of development. It should be assumed that before the emergency, victims and organizations were working hard towards certain goals and visions. These would have been curtailed during the emergency and they should therefore be recouped basing on the rate they were developing through smart growth.
Emergencies are unpredictable phenomena but inevitable in human life. They can occur when they are least expected. This should be a cause for concern among those who are responsible for handling them more, because much as they may be well verse with relevant knowledge concerning them they can nonetheless be caught off guard. The processes delineated in this research are the best guide to any emergency manager of any institution that deals in hazardous chemical. With proper implementation of the aforementioned methods, emergencies will be easier to manage and the chances of overcoming their effects will therefore be higher. However, the effectiveness of a strategy lies in the implementation rather than in its formulation. Emergency managers have a big task of ensuring that the above steps are accurately studied, comprehended, assimilated and well reproduced during times of disaster. Similarly, workers and other people should also be aware of the procedure required in ensuring their safety while at the place of work. Their vigilance and cognizance is equally paramount in limiting chance of occurrence of imminent risks. They would be charged with the responsibility of identifying hazardous chemicals in their areas of jurisdiction and ensuring that they are properly stored and handled. They should also strive to adhere to the developed risk management plan to proactively combat risks that would be as a result of improper handling, management or storage of the very chemicals. In addition to that, the emergency managers should keep up to date with work health and safety code of practice and legislation that regards all the chemical substances that are entrusted upon them so as to mitigate any risks that may arise in the course of using specific chemicals.
Safety procedures require that all emergency managers in industrial, commercial, pharmaceutical and agricultural sectors put risk management plans into place to be followed whenever employees or employers are expected to use, handle or store hazardous chemicals in their places of work. It will be very helpful to them in meeting their obligations through the proper identification of hazardous chemicals, assessment and control of their risks in the workplaces as well as ensuring their safe storage and transportation. This is significant especially owing to the fact that the magnitude of damage which can possibly emanate from erroneous handling of these hazardous chemicals is dire and far reaching. Workers who are adversely affected by the harm caused by hazardous chemicals may struggle with resuming their lives. Ultimately, the thorough implementation of this guide will no doubt produce impressive results and shield the victims and organizations from succumbing to effects coupled with emergencies.