Nearly 60% of organisations need to improve their telephone emergency response arrangements

Nearly 60% of organisations need to improve their telephone emergency response arrangements
20 February 2020

Polling during our recent webinar ‘Best practice in telephone emergency response’ hosted in partnership with Cefic and BASF revealed that almost 60% of attendees thought they needed to make adjustments to their response provision.

The National Chemical Emergency Centre’s (NCEC) mission is to help reduce the number and impact of chemical incidents globally, and to help organisations meet their corporate social responsibility requirements.

In line with this mission, we recently partnered with the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and BASF, the second largest chemical producer in the world, to deliver an influential webinar entitled ‘Promoting best practice in telephone emergency response (level 1 response)’. The webinar was based on the guidelines jointly published by NCEC and Cefic.

We broadcast live from the Cefic offices in Brussels to hundreds of people from over 40 countries across six continents. Attendees included representatives from chemical manufacturers, distributers, transporters, retailers, trade associations, consultants and emergency response providers.
After taking an initial poll, it emerged that 65% of the audience had not heard of the Cefic best practice guidelines, highlighting the need for this vital information to be disseminated more widely.

Advice please

The guidelines emphasise the importance of emergency responders providing actionable, tailored advice rather than simply stating information . For 46% of the audience, this practice was already in place but, for the benefit of the 36% who currently only provide information, we discussed the limitations associated with information-only services, and how truly actionable, proportionate advice can really change the impact of an incident, and ultimately reduce harm (and associated costs). This is especially relevant if hazardous substances  are involved. The remaining 18% of attendees were unsure  whether they were providing information only or specific advice..

Fit for purpose?

We were reassured to discover that 42% of the audience thought their emergency telephone response provision was fit for purpose and in line with the guidelines after the discussion on best practice. However, 43% declared the need to make small adjustments with a further 15% requiring large adjustments or a total overhaul of systems. We are pleased to have helped to bring the matter into focus and given a template for the best approach for those requiring changes. Most important is that emergency responders should not only be chemically trained and have access to product information, but also be able to apply this to give advice suited to the individual circumstances of an incident.

Next steps

When asked about next steps following the webinar, two-thirds of the attendees intended to read the guidelines (we hope the other third had already read them).
It was also encouraging that the webinar inspired a third of the attendees to say they would be testing the effectiveness of their own telephone emergency response systems. A third indicated they would be assessing how their telephone emergency response provision affects their organisation’s risks to people, the environment, their assets and reputation. 13% would look for external professional advice.

Around 60% of the audience planned to share the webinar with colleagues – please feel to pass on the link:

If you want to assess if your telephone emergency response provision is fit for purpose or to find out more about best practice in level 1 emergency response, please:
•    Watch the webinar on-demand.
•    Read the Guidelines for Level 1 Chemical Emergency Response.
•    Contact us for advice or if you have any questions – [email protected] or +44 (0)1235 753654.