Preventive Maintenance Steps To Maximize Preparedness For Litigation And Crisis Management

As the year winds down, there is no better time to make sure that your company is as prepared as possible for future litigation and crisis management.  Below is a quick checklist of 10 preventive maintenance steps you can take to maximize your preparedness.  When conducting any of these steps, be cognizant of protecting privilege.  Document the scope of reviews and clarify the purpose as being completed to obtain specific legal advice, and understand when to use outside counsel for additional protection.

-Perform strategic assessment of operation, system, or work process to assess likely targets for opposing plaintiffs’ attorneys and government investigators in the event an incident occurs.  Understand legal exposure.

-Review investigations following prior incidents to confirm that any “lessons learned” or “recommendations for improvement” have been formally tracked and implemented.

-Ensure consistency in language, definitions, and roles and responsibilities (including training, maintenance, and reporting lines) for policies comprising the process safety management system.

-Audit field operations to confirm that corporate safety policies are effectively implemented and understood by workers to achieve safe operations.

-Practice.  Conduct comprehensive crisis response simulations focused more on the leadership and legal teams’ abilities to manage all aspects of a crisis as opposed to traditional incident response drills focused on a company’s technical response in field.

-Confirm the effectiveness of any reporting and distribution systems of “lessons learned” or safety alerts to workers in the field.

-Proactively develop company response to any company facts likely to be portrayed negatively in the press following an incident and ensure that anyone who may be tasked with public response is well versed in the company’s strategic messaging.

-For any operation that involves multiple parties, establish quick reference guide under each contract for allocation of safety responsibility, indemnities, insurance obligations, and specific notification requirements in the event an incident occurs.

-Ensure that data preservation and retention systems and policies are fine-tuned and battle tested.  Taking the time to “work out the kinks” after an incident can be costly.

-Train workforce on the perils of e-mail communications.

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