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Hazardous material forms go electronic

March 9, 2013

Troy Anderson

 

Hazard risk analysis information is going electronic.

Auglaize County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Troy Anderson said they are making plans to combine inspection forms and make them accessible to emergency responders online.

“It’s something new and we want to make sure we have it right, before we send it out to everyone,” Anderson said of plans to start the change with one business serving as a pilot and then to expand it from there.

At the same time as Anderson is talking about the EMA office going electronic with such forms locally, plans are being made at the state level to share emergency response plans, required to be filed annually by businesses, with emergency responders in their local jurisdictions and the local EMA.

Anderson said the changes allow for quick access, especially when at the scene of a disaster or incident.

“They allow you to have everything right there on your laptop,” Anderson said, explaining that he planned to maintain paper copies of the information filed as well. “I am still a firm believer in having a paperwork trail.” 

He said there is funding now for a state web base, but what if down the road that money is gone or the server crashes. By keeping paper records on file it would ensure they would be available if needed for any reason.

Plans are that the electronic documents could be completed by companies and then information transmitted online, rather than them having to fill out and mail paper documents. Emergency responders in a company’s local jurisdiction would be given a code to access the information and print off what is needed for their planning.

“It’s in the early planning stages,” Anderson said. 

In Auglaize County, Anderson is planning to combine information he gathers when performing facility inspections. He typically performs 13 inspections each year on a rotational basis of the approximately 65 facilities in the county which store hazardous amounts of chemicals.

He said he is working to develop a form in combination with information collected when local fire departments perform their routine inspections. It would include information on chemicals, emergency contacts and help with preplanning for an emergency (who provides electric service, where are access roads, where does the water supply come from and where are hydrants). 

“The information would be useful and could be given to fire departments,” Anderson said, explaining that by the same token, fire departments could add information they collect to what he has on file for certain companies.

An electronic form would offer fill-in the blanks and a standard format for all types of inspections.

“It would put everyone on the same page with the same information all together in one place,” Anderson said.

He said since the county’s last hazardous materials analysis was conducted in 2010, he can see through commodity flow studies that there is an increase in these types of items being shipped through and stored in the county. Keeping as detailed records as possible is important. 

“If that continues to stay on track, we have the possibility of a chemical emergency,” Anderson said. “Keeping accurate, detailed records provides each department with a better idea of what is in their jurisdiction so they can train better and we can make sure we purchase equipment based on those needs.”

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