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Haze: Is it a Response, Business Continuity or a Crisis Management Plan?

During the last two weeks, haze has been a particularly acute problem in Southeast Asia, as Indonesian forest fires burnt to clear land being the reason.  The haze is a regular “incident” in the ASEAN region as it occurs during the dry season and is usually a slight irritation and inconvenience to the neighbouring country like Singapore and Malaysia.

However, the haze has now reached a “hazardous level” of exceeding 300 PSI level.  What make matter worse if that it is staying for a longer period and is beginning to disrupt the society in general?  An example is the closure of schools in Johore and Malacca while workers working outdoor were required to wear N95 masks and also reduce their exposure to outdoor activities.  In the world of business continuity management (BCM), the incident has just been upgraded to a “Crisis Management Plan.”  Why it not a “Business Continuity Plan” as this is does not result in the unavailability of your facility, processes and personnel.

The activation of the crisis management plan should convene last week as the PSI surpasses the 300 PSI mark.  What should organisation start to think about?

  • Understand the characteristics of the threat i.e. the haze.
  • Provide the necessary protective equipment to the staff members who are exposed heavily to the threat. “DO NOT OVERSTOCK” your N95.
  • Reduce all outdoor activities or reduce manpower assigned performing outdoor activities when the PSI exceeds 300 PSI.
  • Monitor the threat via national agencies such as Ministry of Health (MOH) and Nation Environment Agency (NEA) http://www.nea.gov.sg/psi/.
  • Convene your CMT to decide on pre-approved triggers to “stop work” and “health related HR policy.”
  • Take a look at your business continuity plan to identify the critical business functions.
  • Be prepared to implement the working from home strategy if the authorities or the organization indicate a sustained high haze PSI rating.
  • Look at the health status of your senior staff members and also staff with related health problem with the haze.

You should continue to look at your critical business activities for the coming weeks as the dry season in Indonesia could last till September 2013.  There is a possibility that this is a sustained crisis to all organizations in this region.

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Author: moh_heng

Dr Goh Moh Heng is the Managing Director of GMH Continuity Architects and President of Business Continuity Management (BCM) Institute.

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