Disaster Preparedness Standards Proposed for Businesses

By Beth Mirza Oct 27, 2009
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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will adopt standards to help the private sector be better prepared for disasters and emergencies. DHS is accepting comments on the proposed standards through Nov. 15, 2009.

DHS published a notice in the Oct. 16, 2009, Federal Register seeking comment on the three new standards that would be adopted under the Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program (known as PS-Prep). PS-Prep was mandated by Congress with the passage of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. Businesses will receive emergency preparedness certification from a DHS accreditation system that would help businesses enhance operational resilience, business continuity management, and disaster and emergency management.

The proposed standards were developed by the National Fire Protection Association, the British Standards Institution and the American Society for Industrial Security and were selected from a field of 25 proposed standards for their scalability, balance of interest and relevance to PS-Prep, according to a DHS news release.

“Preparedness is a shared responsibility, and everyone—including businesses, universities and non-profit organizations—has a role to play,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in the news release. “Ensuring our private sector partners have the information and training they need to respond to disasters will strengthen our efforts to build a culture of preparedness nationwide.”

DHS also is working on classifications and certifications for small businesses, according to the release.

More information about the three proposed standards:

  • Language from the National Fire Protection Association establishes a common set of criteria for preparedness, disaster management, emergency management and business continuity. This standard was chosen because of its focus on planning and preparation in anticipation of a disaster and does not prescribe a program development process, according to the Federal Register notice.
  • Language from the British Standards Institution defines requirements for a management systems approach to business continuity and integrates risk management disciplines and processes. It was chosen because it provides a management systems approach to business continuity and integrates risk management disciplines and processes. In addition, it addresses business-to-business and business-to-customer dealings to strengthen business resilience.
  • Language from the American Society for Industrial Security defines requirements for a management systems approach to organizational resilience. It encompasses risk management mechanisms and follows a plan-do-check-act approach associated with other International Standard organization management system-based standards, the notice stated.

After DHS considers comments on the proposed standards, it will publish another notice in the Federal Register on the ones it will adopt. To comment, visit the Federal eRulem​aking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.

Beth Mirza is senior editor for HR News. She can be reached at Beth.Mirza@shrm.org.

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