Design and content of a Contingency Plan
If unwanted incidents or crises occur, it is important to be well prepared.
Possible scenarios for what might arise should be thought through and how this should be handled.
A Contingency Plan must be prepared that will allow you to cope with the situation quickly, correctly and effectively. An important part of this can be having an crisis team responsible for traceability, recall and withdrawal.
The Contingency Plan may include the following:
- Scope, goals and target group
- Company policy on product safety
- Definition of incident and crisis
- Description of the crisis team with roles and responsibilities clearly defined for each member of the team
- A series of actions to be performed in case of an incident / crisis
- A list of important contacts – internal / external
- When to initiate a product withdrawal
- When to initiate a recall
- How internal / external communication should be organized
- Documented experience from past incidents and exercises
- Templates for internal and external communication
- Registration and evaluation of incidents
The Contingency Plan must be updated regularly and distributed to all persons involved.
On the basis of the Contingency Plan, a Crisis Team must be appointed, which is managed from a central coordination point. The team will decide which actions to take. It must be clearly stated who should be the decision maker. Nothing must be done without the Crisis Team formally approving it.
The overall responsibility of the team is to organize, manage and lead:
- Managing each incident / crisis
- Development, implementation and updating of internal instructions to be followed in case of an incident / crisis
- Continuous training of people involved in product traceability in crisis management
- Regular exercises and evaluation of the measures in the plan
- Development of internal and external communication plans to be used to help manage an incident / crisis
The Crisis Team is a permanent contingency group based on the company’s management team, as far as possible cross-functional and supplemented with the necessary expertise (legal, information, sales / marketing)
The team must be known at all levels of the company. Members of the group must be able to be contacted at any time, and when necessary, alternative persons must be available to cover all roles.
In order for the communication to go fast, a list of people with contact details (telephone number, mobile number, e-mail address and postal address) must be prepared in advance. This includes the Crisis Team, potential deputies, external advisers, public authorities, contacts in industry organizations, customers and the media.
Internal Contact List:
Includes internal decision makers, as well as people who have expertise and can provide support.
The list must at all times be correct and accessible to all affected persons in the company. The people in the Contact List must be able to be contacted by phone and email at any time, and be prepared to gather as a team to deal with an incident / crisis.
External Contact List:
Consists of suppliers, customers, suppliers of logistics services and IT solutions, consumers, public authorities etc. These form an external network with people who should be contactable in case of an incident / crisis.
The Crisis Team is responsible for ensuring that the External Contact List is accurate and accessible to all key personnel.
If possible, it is recommended that you print the telephone number (usually the number of the consumer contact) on the product (Consumer Unit), so that the consumer have the possibility to ask questions, make any complaints or to inform about potential product errors.
All persons who may be involved in tracking and crisis management must be trained and kept up to date on changes in the preparedness. Training includes:
- Company’s procedures for traceability, IT solutions, how to access necessary data, etc.
- Instructions on how to handle incidents / crises
- The Crisis Team, participants, responsibilities and tasks
- The role of the person being trained
- Who to contact
- The importance of coordinated actions and communication in the company
- What to do and what to avoid
- How to use the documentation
- How to use the systems for product traceability and registration
The training should include exercises for handling incidents / crises. These must be run regularly to improve the preparedness and awareness of the Crisis Team, key personnel and external contacts.
Exercises are relevant in the following areas:
- Product Traceability
- Crisis Management
- Handling of quarantined products
Such exercises should be:
- Regular and realistic
- Documented with a clear explanation of the context, results, showing nonconformities and corrective actions
- Based on templates, which reflect the internal technical and organizational instructions
- Performed together with the nearest trading partner in the value chain
Crisis Preparedness Checklist
The company should prepare a checklist.
The checklist can consist of the following parts:
- Crisis Team is designated with a clear description of roles and responsibilities
- Internal guidelines for handling incidents / crises with clear procedures for withdrawal and recall, incident evaluation, etc., are fully documented
- Contact Lists are documented and distributed / made available to important trading partners
- Each individual involved in incident / crisis management and product withdrawal / recall procedures understands the roles and scope of action
- Training material has been developed
- Involved persons are regularly updated
- Regular internal exercises are held to test all contingency plans and how the Crisis Team works.
- Regular exercises are held with important customers and / or adjacent trading partners in the value chain