Is the fire season going to be bad this year?

One of the questions I was asked every year of my career in the fire service was “Is the fire season going to be bad this year”?

My response was always the same. “Every year will be a bad year somewhere, just make sure if you’re at that somewhere, you’re prepared”. Now is the time to act!

There are a number of indicators that are very useful to gauge the likely extent of our annual fire season. Some of these indicators are technical and require a level of expertise to interpret such as the Southern Oscillation Index which measures the difference in surface air pressure between Tahiti and Darwin and the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) which is a numerical value reflecting the dryness of the top layer of soils, deep forest litter, logs and living vegetation. Other indicators are more intuitive such as the amount of Winter and Spring rainfall, the number of warm and windy days leading into Summer and the level of fire activity experienced across Europe and the United States of America which have experienced a large number of mega-fires this year.

The Bureau of Meteorology, provides an annual Bushfire Seasonal Outlook for all parts of Australia. The current Bushfire Seasonal Outlook states: “The Spring 2021 Outlook presents above normal fire potential for conditions over south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, driven by grass and crop growth in these areas. In Western Australia, the above normal fire potential in the north is driven by grass growth and dry soil in the area. Below normal fire potential is predicted across the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria as a result of vegetation recovering from the 2019–20 bushfire season.

While most of Australia shows normal bushfire potential during the spring outlook period, destructive and deadly fires can still occur during normal bushfire seasons across Australia. Fire potential can vary greatly, even at the smaller scale, between bordering states and territories. Each state and territory’s assessment considers different land-use types and vegetation types. This, in turn, is influenced by different forecasts for temperature and rainfall over these regions.”

Whilst the outlook is a very useful resource and indicates we are likely to experience a number of fast-running grass fires, it does not replace the need to prepare your property or business for a possible bushfire or grassfire event.

So, how do you prepare?

Preparation can be divided into two categories: Property and People.

On your business property 

  • Manage long grass to less than 100mm in height.
  • Maintain shrubs, garden and trees by removing all the dry or dead foliage.
  • Keep access into and around the property clear.
  • Ensure clear access to any water points.
  • Practice good housekeeping when storing materials and products outside particularly on your property perimeter.
  • If you have fixed fire protection features like hose reels or equipped hydrants, familiarise yourself with their operation. All fires start small and you might be able to knock down a fire whilst it is small.

For your people

  • Stay informed by monitoring the Vic Emergency Website: emergency.vic.gov.au and the Vic Emergency App.
  • Regularly brief employees about the current fire danger, particularly on days of high fire danger
  • Maintain regular communications about fire risk with employees that work offsite
  • Practise your response to a grass or bushfire as predetermined in your businesses Emergency Management Plan.
  • Plan for the welfare of your employees and families. Do you need all employees on site on high fire danger days?
  • Consider your evacuation plan and remember the safest option is to leave early.

Further actions for your consideration

  • Liaise with your neighbours to understand their level of preparedness and work together where possible
  • Discuss your level of preparedness and the needs of the fire brigade with your local fire brigade members
  • Review your business continuity plan 

The Nuffield Group has invested in developing its capability in Emergency and Crisis Management to support customers and organisations build safety and resilience into their business. Nuffield Group provides consultancy and support services as part of their Integrated Emergency Management & Recovery Team. Find out more here: https://www.nuffieldgroup.com/our-products/iemr

One of my favourite sayings is “learn from the away game”. We all understand that we can and should learn from our own mistakes but how often do we think about learning from the mistakes of others?

Earlier this week, one of the pre-eminent social media platforms went offline and left millions of people unable to communicate with one another. Users of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger were denied access and it took more than five hours before services would begin to be restored.

On the face of it, we as users simply faced a delay in accessing these services and like many, I expected that eventually the systems would come back online and I would be able to catch up on my daily intake of information. However, this outage had a much deeper impact on some businesses including the Facebook business itself.

People rely on Facebook not only to connect with friends and family, but businesses use it to log into other services including online sales websites. In some countries, it is the dominant means of communication through services like WhatsApp. That an outage can have such a profound impact on billions of people for several hours will give some pause for thought.

Facebook’s own internal services were affected by the outage with reports staff were locked out of offices due to the security pass system being caught up in the outage, and could not access their own internal communications platform leading to delay in rectifying the problem and slow return to full capacity.

The total cost of this outage is unknown however the Facebook share price dropped 4.9% and the founder and CEO’s personal wealth dropped $6.5bn according to Bloomberg.

So, what is the lesson to be learnt here?

The lesson here is understanding where your single points of failure are, knowing, and managing the consequences.

Failure to identify these can lead to dramatic and drastic consequences that have financial, legal and reputational implications. I can attest to this from a personal experience whilst working for an organisation that developed an App designed to notify the community of emergency events as they occurred. The App failed when it was most needed due to a single point overload.

The single point failure was not identified in the risk assessment and consequently, there were no actions identified to be carried out to address the potential single point failure in the emergency management plan.  The recovery from this situation was expensive with significant reputational damage.

Recovering from any setback is a challenge for all of us. Identifying possible systemic failures in your business systems and infrastructure then planning how you would go about addressing these will make a big difference to your business.

Nuffield Group has invested in developing its capability in Emergency and Crisis Management to support customers and organisations build safety and resilience in their business.

Nuffield Group provides consultancy and advisory services and also has an online platform, GNTX, for the exchange of non-competitive information and tools allowing businesses to share, download and modify frameworks and documents for their own use.

Find out more about GNTX here: https://www.nuffieldgroup.com/gntx/

It’s hard to fathom going to a bar for a drink and being served ‘flat’ beer – even in the UK! Worse still imagine being unable to go to hospital to have a medical procedure. And yet, this amazing situation is currently playing out in the UK and perfectly demonstrates why you need emergency management planning because comprehensive planning is the only way to deliver resilience in supply chains.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is an important additive in the food, beverage and health industries. It is used widely, for example, in the carbonisation of water, soft and alcoholic drinks; It is also used to stun pigs and chickens before they are humanely processed through abatoirs; It used in many medical procedures for humans too and it is used during packaging of a variety of supermarket foods to ensure extended shelf life.  

Emergency Management Planning

In the UK, the current shortage of carbon dioxide has come about because two large fertiliser factories have stopped production because of soaring wholesale gas prices. Fertiliser plants generate CO2 as a by-product of their production process. The result? A 60% reduction in the UK’s food grade carbon dioxide supply.

Emergency Management Planning

The reduction in CO2 supplies has caused such shortages in the availability of a range of products that it has required intervention at a national government level. It is a remarkable situation and one that is proving difficult to resolve because the situation has arisen due to a fall in demand for fertilisers, not a fall in demand for carbon dioxide itself. The crisis has drawn attention to the fractured responsibility that exists in the supply chain and its management. Politically the issue lies across many areas of government.

Interestingly, this is not the first time a crisis involving the supply of Carbon Dioxide has occurred. It tends to be a cyclical event caused by a decrease in the production of fertiliser over the summer period. In 2018 a similar situation was reported. So, this incidence is entirely predictable and should have been resolved by proper emergency management planning to ensure resilience in the supply chain.

It is a great learning opportunity for all of us. All businesses need to ensure they have identified weaknesses and potential emergency situations and planned accordingly to deliver business continuity. Planning is the key to building resilience into systems and businesses.

The global pandemic has introduced a new normal to this equation. There’s more volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in our everyday lives, so we need to plan better for the unexpected. This requires a change in mindset and thinking. It requires businesses to perform detailed risk planning to identify vulnerabilities and adopt controls to ensure supply and operations.

Through Covid a key learning has been on the very issue the UK CO2 crisis illustrates – security of supply chains to ensure a business can continue to operate. There are many current examples where a lack of foresight has been exercised and businesses have been exposed. The automotive sector is a great source of learning along with many of our iconic parcel and package delivery services that have had to adjust their services due to unprecedented demand.

The learnings from the UK case study and Australia’s Covid experiences across a range of sectors make it abundantly clear that all businesses need to adapt quickly based on good data, intelligence, and evidence, leading to prompt decision making and the establishment of a rapid deployment capability.

It is an ever-changing world with new challenges and opportunities for businesses. Nuffield Group has the expertise and experience to support businesses in their risk assessment and emergency management planning.

Find out more:

contact us via the form on this website; email us direct at nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com or call 1300 308 257 or +61 404 852 062

 

At Nuffield Group we don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel. We believe in helping create resilient businesses by sharing and collaborating non-competitive information. This approach has many advantages, not least of which is providing our customers with access to best practice frontiers based on learnings across industries and sectors.

Back in 2016 the Williams Formula One racing team worked with medical staff at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff to help apply their knowledge and procedures of pit lane operations to the resuscitation of newborn babies. The story is often invoked as an example of how you can learn from other industries and sectors to improve outcomes in your own.

In our industry we have adopted this principle by developing a practical solution; An online ‘Give ‘n’ Take Exchange (GNTX). GNTX is an innovative, collaborative and information sharing platform, supporting the development of best practice solutions across a range of organisations operating in various sectors and markets.

GNTX allows organisations, many with common goals, interests, and challenges, to share their approaches, policies, procedures, and practices to a range of issues.

The ability to access a diversity of experience, expertise and learnings creates an opportunity to understand and improve processes, tools, policies, and procedures among GNTX subscribers. Above all it enables the delivery of better outcomes in a timelier, better informed, less costly and efficient manner.

It’s like a virtuous circle driving continuous improvement which translates to better products, solutions and outcomes promoting sustainable business operations and improved consumer outcomes. It’s a new way of consulting with collaboration and validation of practices and is particularly centred on small and medium businesses to help them increase their capability and responsiveness.

Nuffield Group are proud of the ecosystem GNTX creates and the improvement it offers businesses. For further information on its functionality and application contact us via the form on this website; email us direct at nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com or call 1300 308 257 or +61 404 852 062

 

“Go hard, go early” is probably one of the most coined COVID catchphrases this year. You wouldn’t think ‘hard’ or ‘early’ could be interpreted differently but in the modern-day political spin cycle, it seems they can! So, for the purposes of applying this mantra to project management we’re going to need a pair of unequivocal definitions. Here’s mine:

“Go Hard”, in terms of project management means execute the project within a strict (hard) framework of ‘independent technical governance’. Such a framework provides the kind of rigid checks and balances required at critical milestones to ensure projects continue to run on time and in budget. It’s a framework that will protect an investors’ interests and an operator’s reputation.

“Go early” is just that. Nip any variances or issues in the bud before they become expensive to rectify. Small, regular corrections or adaptations before & during project executions can make a huge difference. A few million spent early can save tens of millions later.

Don’t take my word for it.

Data collected by the Independent Project Analysis group from thousands of major projects around the world shows:

  • A $100m capex project can expect a cost overrun between $9.6m and $48m
  • A $500m capex project can expect a cost overrun between $48m and $240m
  • A $1bn capex project can expect a cost overrun between $96m and $480m

So, if you apply the “go hard, go early” concept to a project the potential savings are immense.

But it’s not just about ‘policing’ a project. Early identification of potential weaknesses or potential improvements can provide a project team time to redesign procedures, models or processes to get a better outcomes. This positively impacts the success of a project and the projected revenue stream from it.

Of course, big projects have project teams, so it would be fair to assume they would be across this approach. The data says otherwise. Just look at the typical cost overruns above. So, that’s why you should “go hard” with an independent technical governance program. Because it’s not always what you know, it’s often what you don’t that trips you up!

Becht with Nuffield Group has the expertise and a proven ‘cradle to the grave’ governance program that identifies risk, provides solutions, and helps prevent expensive delays to capital projects.
Download Brochure Here or call us on 1300 308 257 for more information.

 

It seems that everywhere I look lately there are real examples of significant and unexpected change to the relative normality of life. This is no more evident than in the Covid 19 pandemic that has swept across the world over the past twenty months and impacted so many in ways that were unforeseen only two years ago. And yet, some things, like fires & floods are seasonal and predictible, which is why it’s time to spring into action.

During the most recent lockdown experienced here in Victoria, we have been privileged to watch the Paralympics. Each athletes individual sporting performance and achievements are very impressive but for so many, their backstory reminds me of just how quickly circumstances can change.

It is often said that the only constant in life is change and where this change is positive, it is embraced but unwelcome change is not embraced and rarely considered. We don’t like to think about the unthinkable and we rarely plan in advance in detail to overcome it when it occurs.

As we move into Spring, we will experience welcome changes in the weather. Warmer temperatures and blue skies will be more conducive to the outdoor lifestyle, exercising and preparing our properties for Summer. We welcome this change. But with Spring and then Summer comes erratic wind, extensive periods of heavy rain and scorching heat. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting above-average rainfall for Spring. These scenarios impact families and businesses by diverting attention away from day-to-day activities to unexpected activities such as cleaning up, repairing flood, storm or fire damage and implementing workarounds to maintain production and distribution.

Preparation for unexpected weather-driven events like fires & floods, is a risk to be managed utilising your risk management process.

Firstly, identify the risks. What are the possible weather-driven risks that could impact on you and how might that impact be realised? For example, are there tall trees that could fall during a strong wind event resulting in damage to buildings or an employee’s car in the carpark?

Secondly, analyse the risk. What is the likelihood of the identified risks occurring and what are the possible consequences? The risk can be assessed using your risk assessment matrix giving due consideration to such things as lost-time injuries, structural damage to buildings, power outages and denied access.

Thirdly, attend to the assessed risks in order to reduce the risk and avoid unexpected events. In the context of weather-driven events, this may include pruning trees, clearing drainage systems of silt and rubbish, securing loose objects, ensuring suitable access for emergency services and having the conversation with family members or employees at Health and Safety forums about looking after their safety and the safety of others in the event of an unexpected weather event.

The final step in the process is to review the risk to ensure that the actions taken have reduced the risk to a level that is acceptable, any maintenance required to provide ongoing management of the risk is included in maintenance plans and any residual risk which has the potential to interrupt business flow such as energy outages is addressed in your Business Continuity Plans.

It is not a matter of IF but a matter of WHEN the next unexpected weather event will occur. Vigilance to the extreme weather warnings issued by the Bureau of Meteorology will compliment thoughtful planning and make it possible to endure these events with minimal impact.

Nuffield has spent decades developing expertise in the risk management space and provides a range of services to help organisatons become resilient.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the risk management services our Integrated Emergency Management & Recovery team provide, then Contact us via the form on this website; email us direct at nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com or call 1300 308 257 or +61 404 852 062

Risk Management is often over complicated. It is, in fact, a simple process that is part of everyday life. Risk Management is defined as ‘the forecasting and evaluation of risks, together with the identification of procedures to avoid or minimize their impact’. What this article demonstrates is the simplicity and effectiveness of using a Risk […]

Silos. Good for grain storage, bad for business! Silo mentality in an organisation is a well-documented issue that, at best, reduces operational efficiency and at worst produces a damaging corporate culture; For best results, break through silos!

Information silos are created when management does not believe there to be enough benefit from sharing information.” But at Nuffield Group we work to make stronger, safer, and more resilient organisations and business communities. And to do that we are open to collaboration and collective learning to drive innovation and growth. Business divisions that operate independently of each other, and who avoid sharing information and resources are the antithesis of that.

Initially, it might appear productive to have departments working efficiently and independently. However, when they fail to communicate and work together business operations begin to suffer.

The challenge of breaking down silos doesn’t just apply to individual organisations – it can be extended to broader industries and communities too. Every organisation has valuable knowledge, tools, and resources that can be of great use to others but the tendency is to silo them, not share. Our approach is, instead, to leverage each other’s cognitive diversity and pool together our unique experiences and resources to solve common problems.

GNTX is our online collaborative platform for industry leaders to share their best practice solutions to common challenges. By breaking down silo mentality and nursing a mindset shift in business practice, we can work together to create best practice solutions to common challenges. By being willing to share non-competitive information and learn from each other, we can reach across different industries and business communities, to create shared value for all.

In this environment, businesses no longer keep their best practice solutions to themselves but share them, breaking down the silos and opening doors to further collaboration.

This way, we all benefit from safer, more resilient industries and communities.

If you’re interested in finding out more about joining our Give ‘n’ Take platform (GNTX) and leveraging resources from other businesses and industries then Contact us via the form on this website; email us direct at nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com or Call 1300 308 257 or +61 404 852 062

 

 

Unfortunately, most of us in our personal and professional lives have to deal with incidents and emergencies at some point or other. Some of these situations become crises and a crisis can then turn into a disaster and have dreadful outcomes. The impacts can be massive, not only for an individual but also for an organisation’s reputation and company profitability. So, don’t let an incident develop into a crisis!

There are countless case studies of how organisations failed to act allowing incidents and emergencies to evolve into disasters with very sad outcomes. We all have longstanding memories of events at a local, state, national or international level, particularly where things escalated out of control and became disasters because there was a lack of leadership or, even worse, a denial or inability to act.

Regrettably, there is somewhat of a paucity of material in academia on these four interrelated terms to inform and educate the need for preparation and conditioning to actively manage incidents and emergencies before they become crises or disasters. So, here are some ideas to help you prepare and get ready, particularly as an organisation, to take action because, I am sorry to say, incidents are just part of everyday life, whether at work or in our private lives. Some days we seem to encounter them with repetitiveness, whether that’s in our travel to work, at work or when socialising. An incident is an event that is unpleasant or unusual and an incident can all too easily evolve into an emergency, become a crises and end up as a disaster for a business or organisation.

That’s why planning for an emergency is key to the survival of a business. Planning needs to identify risk and instigate appropriate action to manage the risk. As we have seen, repeatedly, it is a difficult proposition to totally remove all risk from an operation. If it was possible communities would not need insurance, emergency management plans, installed passive and active fire protection and security systems, audit and compliance arrangements and business continuity plans.

So, given it is a reasonable assumption that your organisation will experience an incident or emergency, the trick is to prevent it from escalating to a disaster. It is essential that there is a plan with clear roles and responsibilities laid out to manage the emergency.  Communication of the plan is also of critical importance along with training and exercising and scenario planning. An organisation’s senior leadership must be committed to having a plan and actively managing any emergency.

Incidents, emergencies, crises and disasters seem to be closely linked and tend to follow on from each other unless there are processes in place to control them. Incidents are the trigger, the emergency is the immediate aftermath, the crises is the result of an emergency overwhelming a business and triggering reactions normally outside of normal day-to-day working processes and a disaster is the culmination of all these elements when all of the controls put in place begin to fail.

It has become fundamental to all businesses, no matter the size, to have a plan in place to ensure they have, at the very least, a basic knowledge of procedures to aid them during an emergency; laying out the plans for generic incidents such as flood, fire, adverse weather, computer failures, breakdowns and other incidents that may befall a business.

Whilst the emergency plan may point out the procedures for dealing with the incident as it happens or in the immediate aftermath there also needs to be a crisis plan so that there is communication and collaboration across the organisation to attempt to control what is happening, make critical decisions and move into the next stage: business continuity management. That’s how you ensure a business can continue operating in the weeks, months or years following an incident.

If you need help assessing your risk, developing any of these plans, or training for potential incidents then Nuffield Group would be delighted to assist you to build your business resilience and be prepared for any potential shocks and stresses.

Contact us via the form on this website; email us direct at nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com or Call 1300 308 257 or +61 404 852 062

Workplace safety monitoring tool

Good governance and workplace safety should be inseparable concepts. And yet, this week alone we have been reminded not once, but twice, that when things go wrong the consequences can not only be fatal but financial and potentially criminal. And that reaches from the bottom to the very top of an organisation.

In Germany an explosion at a chemical waste incineration plant in Leverkusen has claimed at least one life (probably more) and caused serious injuries to others; In America, officials are seeking to impose fines on four companies following a liquid nitrogen leak last January that killed 6 workers at a Georgia poultry processing plant.

Events like these, often preventable, have serious repercussions for workers, managers and board directors, not to mention the potentially irreparable damage to business brands and community relations.

In Australia, the “obligations of directors when it comes to safety are well known”. The uniform safety legislation in most states and territories contains a useful framework for directors to follow when it comes to safety governance.” (1)

Included in this framework is the following:

  • ensure there are available for use, and used, appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risk to health and safety
  • ensure there are processes for receiving and considering information regarding incidents, hazards and risk and responding in a timely way to that information

There are other elements but I highlight these two because I wonder how any organisations truly monitor their operations with a real-time reporting mechanism that anyone from the work floor to the boardroom can see?

At Nuffield Group we utilise a tool called Nu-Safe to ensure we satisfy not only our legal Health, Safety, Sustainability & Environment obligations but also our own internal cultural commitments. With this tool we can monitor key elements, flag critical action dates and flag any under-performance before it becomes a problem, allowing us to “respond in a timely way” (as per the framework).

It’s a tool we believe has wider application and one we’re currently engaged with customers on extending across a number of different industries. We believe, by sharing this solution, we can further our vision of helping create safe and resilient businesses and communities.

Want to find out more?

Contact us via the form on this website; email us direct at nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com or Call 1300 308 257 or +61 404 852 062 

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