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Integrated safety, health and environmental management: An introduction
Integrated safety, health and environmental management: An introduction

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5.2 Why plan?

Captain James Lovell chose the title ‘A successful failure’ for an article on the Apollo 13 Lunar Mission. The failure was that the lunar landing was abandoned. The success was that, although an explosion blew a gaping hole in the spacecraft three-quarters of the way to the moon and knocked out the electrical systems as well as the service module's engine, the three astronauts returned safely to Earth. Can you think of a better example of the value of emergency planning?

Two features are common to all disasters:

  1. no one thought that it could or would happen to them;

  2. those who were prepared saved lives and livelihoods.

Without a plan there is little or no chance of an effective response. The written plan, as the clarification and record of a negotiated consensus, is the legal instrument of emergency management.

There are a number of reasons why organisations should produce, validate and maintain emergency plans. The first and most obvious is that in some cases it is a legal requirement. In addition, three distinct areas of interest can be identified:

  • emergency planning as a public protection activity;

  • emergency planning as an organisational management function;

  • business continuity planning.

Although closely related and not mutually exclusive, each has some distinct features. These are described below.