Emergency management is more than just quickly responding to a crisis; it also requires having plans in place for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery and business continuity. The functions of emergency management and business continuity are becoming more and more entwined, and these days, itís clear you canít have one without the other.
In early 2008, CSA will launch a new standard that is expected to become the definitive standard for emergency management and business continuity in Canada. This high level, comprehensive standard will provide both public and private organizations with a framework to create and asses their own integrated emergency management and business continuity plans.
Because emergencies know no borders, CSA Z1600 will be harmonized with the U.S. National Fire Protection Associationís (NFPA) 1600: Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs. NFPA 1600 is a high-level, comprehensive framework standard that integrates emergency management and business continuity, provides for a common language and incorporates a risk based, all-hazards approach, similar to current Canadian Emergency management practice.
The new Canadian standard, CSA Z1600, based on NFPA 1600, will provide an effective benchmark to allow organizations to evaluate and/or initiate their own emergency management and business continuity programs. As well, it will ensure development of a comprehensive, continentally-harmonized approach that will facilitate compliance for stakeholders.
With the responsibility for emergency management falling on to the desks of many OHS managers, weíre taking the time to answer some of your most pressing questions about CSA Z1600.
Q: Why do we need CSA Z1600? Why canít we just follow NFPA 1600?
A: While CSA Z1600 will be harmonized with NFPA 1600, there will be some unique differences between the two documents. The CSA Z1600 standard will be a Canadian standard that references Canadian sources Ė designed for Canadian organizations. The information in the standard will reflect the differences in Canadaís governmental/regulatory system and requirements and terminology and definitions Canadian businesses use. In addition, the annexes provide in-depth explanatory information specific to Canadian industry needs and requirements.
Q: Will I be required by law to implement CSA Z1600?
A: When CSA Z1600 comes into effect next year, it will be a voluntary National Standard of Canada and potentially a widely accepted best practice, but it will not be law unless a province or territory adopts it into law. Itís important to remember, however, that as a potentially widely accepted best practice, following the standard could be a useful tool for businesses that want to improve their emergency management and business continuity plans.
Q: What if Iíve already implemented NFPA 1600? Do I have to start over again from scratch?
A: When developing the CSA Z1600 standard, the CSA committee worked closely with the NFPA to harmonize the two standards. What that means for you is that if youíve met the requirements of NFPA 1600, you should already meet the requirements for CSA Z1600.
Q: I thought CSA Z731 was the emergency management standard for Canada. Wonít thatwork instead of CSA Z1600?
A: CSA Z731 is an emergency management standard, but it is different from CSA Z1600. While CSA Z731 provides excellent guidance on developing an emergency management program, its focus is primarily toward the development of effective tools and systems to support emergency preparedness and response. CSA Z1600 is a higher level comprehensive framework standard that integrates emergency management and business continuity and addresses the functions of prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. But the two arenít mutually exclusive. If youíre implementing CSA Z731, that will give you a head start in meeting the requirements of CSA Z1600. Once CSA Z1600 is published, we plan to revise CSA Z731 to become a supporting document for CSA Z1600.
Q: I havenít implemented any emergency management or business continuity standards at all. Can I get help implementing the standard?
A: Absolutely. CSA is currently creating an implementation strategy to provide support and guidance to anyone wishing to implement the standard. We are also working on education and training opportunities for when the standard is published in early 2008.
Donít forget you can contact us with your important OHS standards related questions. E-mail us at email@example.com.