Why a Pollution Incident Plan could benefit your manufacturing business
As a manufacturing organisation you will typically have several stages within your production process before arrival at your final product outcome. These stages may include activities such as transportation, storage and use of chemicals, plastics, fuels and oils for example, which could leave the business open to risk should something go wrong within the production process. The risk can also extend through to the collection and disposal of any waste materials too.
Whilst most incidents are likely to occur within the business setting and can be cleaned up internally, following correct procedures, sometimes an unexpected event will happen which has a wider impact on the environment. These can occur if waterways or soil become contaminated, drains overflow, or spillages occur during transportation. If an environmental event should occur you may be found liable, and a claim could be made against you. This could have a serious impact on your business, whilst you meet any costs incurred to clean up and rectify damage, manage your reputation, review your systems and processes and meet any injury claims.
If your business has the potential to cause environmental pollution in the event that something goes wrong, you should consider Environmental Impairment Liability insurance as an extension to your Public Liability cover. This will provide cover for clean-up costs and any legal defence costs. Your insurance broker will be able to talk through scenarios with you and find a solution that meets your needs.
Alongside a comprehensive policy, you should also look to create a Pollution Incident Plan (PIP). Creating a plan to anticipate any environmental incidents will mean that you are prepared in your response. A fast response will save time and money, help to protect your reputation and ultimately it could save your business.
Whilst it would be near impossible to have a strategy for every eventuality, it makes sense to create a detailed plan for any scenarios that would have the most serious consequences.
What to include in your plan?
You should investigate areas of vulnerability and detail the risks involved:
- Logistical details on site sensitivity
- Foul and surface water drainage plans
- Storage locations
- Quantities of chemicals
- The nature of chemicals
- Fuels and waste materials
- Locations of emergency response kits
Make sure the plan details who should be contacted in the event of an emergency incident:
- Emergency response teams
Once the plan has been created, it should be tested to make sure that the procedures you have arrived at are adequate and will work as you expect in the face of an incident. You will also need any personnel that will be directly involved in the crisis management, to be familiar with the procedures. Everyone should understand their role, and clear communications should be made to stakeholders; investors, employees, customers, suppliers, local communities, and regulatory bodies.
The plan should be reviewed regularly to ensure that any changes to key personnel or your production methods can be accounted for. If the plan is not actionable, then it’s not of any value to your business.
Keep your insurer in the loop
A key reason for creating a Pollution Incident Plan is to ensure that you are able to respond quickly to any environmental event. Your insurer might not seem obvious as one of the first points of contact, but it is vital that you notify them immediately. Not only will your insurer be able to assist with indemnifying losses, but they have access to a host of other risk management services that can provide vital support at this distressing time.
Your insurer will be able to provide you with referrals to emergency response services, which will help you to save time and money. They may also be able to refer you to specialist solicitors who work in the defence of environmental matters; environmental consultants who will help you deal with the situation quickly and effectively; and PR experts who will help protect your business against reputational damage.
The sooner you notify your insurance company the sooner the situation can be managed, helping to mitigate any loss cost effectively and rapidly.
Following a pollution incident, you will need to communicate with any relevant regulatory authorities. Your insurer will be able to help you to create a strategy to do this, which will include an initial immediate communication to advise of the incident. You will then have time to investigate to find out exactly what caused the event and be able to update the relevant parties as you know more.
With swift and efficient management of an environmental pollution incident you may be able to limit the extent of intervention from any regulatory body and limit any reputational damage.
Your ability to deal with the aftermath of a pollution incident is likely to have an effect on your business. The more efficiently you deal with the situation, the lower the impact will be. By regularly assessing your Pollution Incident Plan and updating it in line with your processes and procedures, the less likely an incident will occur in the first place and if it does, you’ll be in a better position to deal with it.
Pollution events typically result in financial penalties, which could affect your ability to attract investors in the future. If you incur regular penalties or regulatory intervention, this may affect your reputation, and ultimately the future of your business.
After the incident
If you are unfortunate enough to experience an environmental pollution event, it’s important that you learn from it to reduce the likelihood of a repeat in the future.
Once the clean-up has taken place and you meet regulatory compliance, a post incident review should take place. You should re-evaluate your Pollution Incident Plan, to learn as much as possible from the event, identifying what worked and what didn’t, so changes can be made.
- What went well?
- What needs to be amended?
- What did you learn – Do you need to add in new procedures?
- Which risk management services did you need?
Your Pollution Incident Plan should be updated following a thorough review and then practiced, to make sure that you are ready, should an incident occur in the future.
At Barnes Commercial helping you to prepare and develop a Pollution Incident Plan is part of our risk management service. We can work with you and your insurer, to ensure that this document is comprehensive and will serve as a first response plan in the face of an environmental disaster.
If an environmental incident does occur in your manufacturing organisation, and an Environment Impairment Liability claim is made against you, being as prepared as possible will help deal with the event and protect the longevity of your business.
For further information on Environmental Impairment Liability insurance and Pollution Incident Plans, please get in touch and one of our experienced commercial brokers will be pleased to help. We want to help you to protect your business against the unexpected, so you can operate with complete peace of mind.
Call us on 01480 272727 or email email@example.com today.