It’s critical that first responders addressing potential on-site chemical dangers have quick access to information about the hazardous substances they’re dealing with. To that end, MSDSonline—a leading developer of cloud-based environmental, health and safety solutions—has formally launched its Plan1 first responder share service.
MSDSonline created Plan1 in response to growing concerns around chemical hazard communication. President Obama issued Executive Order 13650, “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security,” on August 1, 2013 to reduce risks associated with hazardous chemical incidents to owners and operators, workers and communities by enhancing the safety and security of chemical facilities.
A taskforce organized in response to the Executive Order led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently uncovered that chemical information is often underreported and is frequently out-of-date when first responders arrive on scene.
“Emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time – that’s why it’s essential to have a plan in place to better prepare your workforce and first responders so any dangers are well contained and pose no additional threat to the surrounding community,” said Mike Flynn, vice president of product development and strategy at MSDSonline.
MSDSonline officially debuted Plan1 at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Conference & Expo in June. The company said Plan1 allows for “real-time, seamless distribution of critical hazard information to first responders” who need access to a clear, accurate picture of the situation in order to respond safely and effectively.
Flynn noted, however, that Plan1 is not a substitute for compliance regulations. Plan1 is meant to be a supplemental tool that provides first responders with up-to-date information in emergency situations so first responders can better assess, plan and prepare for the potential risks associated with emergencies.
“Plan1 is not a substitute for the regulatory compliance activities required by the EPA, OSHA, DHS and other agencies, but a supplemental tool that facilitates the sharing of critical information like chemical inventories, floor plans and safety data sheets with state and local emergency responders in advance of chemical emergencies — so that the properprotections and response plans can be implemented,” Flynn explained.
With 19 percent of firefighter injuries due to hazardous materials, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the importance of this issue cannot be understated. The recent Maryville, Tenn. train fire in which first responders had to be treated due to exposure to toxic chemicals demonstrated the importance of protecting emergency management teams in toxic chemical scenarios.
“Our hope is that Plan1 prevents larger emergency disaster situations from occurring, while also helping to better protect the people who run in when everyone else runs out,” Flynn stated.
The Plan1 service is currently available at no additional cost to MSDSonline customers. Safety managers using the HQ or HQ RegXR account can simply enter in the local first responder information, and the cloud-based system sends chemical inventory information directly to those contacts.
Similarly, Aristatek, Inc., a leading provider of hazardous materials planning and response solutions, has prepared numerous detailed reports on hazards first responders could face which it makes available to emergency response personnel free of charge.
For example, Aristatek developed a detailed technical profile of the consequences of a radiological dispersion device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” using the highly radioactive isotope Cobalt 60 which demonstrated that, depending on wind and other environmental conditions, a Cobalt 60 RDD detonated near the US Capitol building could contaminate a huge southward swath encompassing part of the Capitol grounds and narrowly missing the White House.
In a follow-up to AristaTek’s January 2014 technical brief, Toxic Consequences of Smoke Plumes from Crude Oil Fires, that was prepared in response to the threat of an accident involving crude oil shipments, the company prepared a new technical brief, Hazards Associated with Spilled Crude, to help with planning and response to accidents involving crude oil by consolidating several key pieces of information important to planners and first responders.