Monday, January 07, 2008

OSHA Guidelines for Security Personnel in Emergencies

In the interest of sharing information, this is just a quick note on the new OSHA guidelines for the protection of security personnel in emergencies. First responders ought to know what their private security counterparts are trained to do in case of emergency. Don't exchange business cards at the site of a disaster.

The OSHA doc focuses on HAZMAT releases, indicating that security employees may be trained to a number of different levels of capability, depending on their duties:

First Responder Awareness Level

[E]mployees assigned roles as first responder awareness level responders are limited to initiating emergency response procedures by notifying the proper authorities and must not attempt to stop the release or approach the release area.

Security personnel trained to the first responder awareness level are limited to activating an alarm, notifying appropriate authorities, and controlling access to the release from a remote area upon discovering a release requiring an emergency response. Once the site control zones and safe distances have been defined by emergency responders, security personnel trained to the awareness level may also control entry to and exit from the emergency site from a safe location.
First Responder Operations Level
Security personnel who are expected to respond in a defensive manner to hazardous substance releases as part of the initial response for the purpose of protecting nearby persons, property, or the environment must be trained to the first responder operations level. Their role is to contain the release from a safe distance, to keep it from spreading, and to prevent exposures – they do not attempt to stop the release. Their defensive actions must be performed from a safe distance and may include activities such as placing absorbents, constructing dikes, or securing an area to prevent the dispersal of contaminants or agents.
HAZMAT Technician Level
Those security personnel who will respond to releases in an aggressive fashion for the purpose of stopping the release must be trained to the hazardous materials (HAZMAT) technician level. These individuals approach the point of release to plug, patch, or otherwise stop the hazardous substance release.
HAZMAT Specialist Level
Security personnel whose assigned duties parallel those of the hazardous materials (HAZMAT) technician and who respond to releases to provide support to HAZMAT technicians in the form of specialized knowledge of substances involved in the release are hazardous materials specialists.
On Scene Incident Commander
If security personnel are assigned duties by their employers consistent with the role of the On Scene Incident Commander, they must receive at least 24 hours of training equal to the first responder operations level and have competencies ... includ[ing] the following:

 An understanding of and the ability to implement the employer's incident command system.
 The ability to implement the employer's emergency response plan.
 Knowledge and understanding of the hazards and risks associated with employees working in chemical protective clothing.
 The ability to implement the local emergency response plan.
 An understanding of the state emergency response plan and of the Federal Regional Response Team.
 Knowledge and understanding of the importance of decontamination procedures.
Something else to consider: The level of training of security personnel at nearby facilities. If you work security next to a chemical plant, you ought to be prepared.

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