Start Evaluating Actions for a COVID-19 Post-Response Evaluation
By Edwin Zalewski, EHS Editor at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.
Employers have taken extraordinary steps to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever role you play in these efforts as a safety manager, remember to continually evaluate actions you and your company are taking. Even while a crisis is ongoing, making notes about potential issues and challenges will better prepare you for a post-emergency response evaluation.
At some point, your company will likely meet to evaluate what was done well, what could have been done differently, and what plans are needed to prepare for the next event. This analysis should include individuals with a strong understanding of emergency response actions, which likely includes the safety manager.
The evaluation may involve having others examine your decisions, so expect to receive some constructive feedback. Analyzing how you made decisions will help prepare for this. In addition, you’ll likely provide feedback on how others performed, so plan to do so diplomatically.
Questions to consider
The format of a post-emergency evaluation will differ for each company, but some questions that might be asked will likely include the following:
- Was the scope of the situation understood, or did it continually develop? As new information became available, how quickly did the company respond?
- What steps were taken to evaluate the accuracy of available information? Was there a process for taking action based on incomplete data?
- Were delays caused by getting key decision makers together? What actions were managers below executive level authorized to take? Were requests considered in a timely manner?
- How quickly were decisions communicated throughout all levels and locations? Was key contact information available and current?
- Did the company look to existing plans or policies? Were the plans current and available to key individuals? What changes may be needed for greater flexibility (such as adding multiple response options based on severity)?
- Were resources allocated efficiently? Was anything critical overlooked? What resources are needed (or can be gathered) to prepare for the next event?
- What alternative suppliers were considered, and are there contingency plans if those alternatives are not available?
- Did the company seem to take a reactive approach, or was a long-term goal developed?
You cannot know the nature or severity of the next event, but you can be certain that another event will occur. Evaluating how well the company responded to this crisis, and evaluating what changes are needed, will better prepare the organization to get through the next situation.
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