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Mark Farley Quoted on Preparing for Major Accidents

Firm News | April 1, 2016

Mark Farley, co-head of the Environmental practice and head of the Workplace Safety practice, offered insight to Law360 on the key elements of a well-organized plan for responding to major accidents, including environmental incidents. Mark noted that that interviewing employees from all levels regarding a past incident could reveal significant information for developing new strategies. It also is important to evaluate management systems as part of a compliance program. Mark stated, "They're dedicating significant resources to ensuring compliance and preventing accidents, and we will help them, often working with technical consultants, to evaluate whether or not they're actually getting the risk mitigation or legal compliance that they think they are." He noted the role audits play in effective crisis prevention and to carefully review that information, stating, "We'll also periodically come in and help them audit their process—we almost audit the audit. Are they getting to the right depth? Are they using the right auditors? Do they have the right perspective? And then, most importantly, are they fixing the problems they find?" A toolkit and other training programs can help ensure the client can properly respond to a major accident. Mark stated, "Often, the initial lawyers who might be responding to an event may not even be environmental or safety attorneys. They could just be the closest in-house lawyer that they can get there. And so we’ll develop these toolkits, which are really issue spotting reference guides for law functions, that talk about the issues they’re going to encounter in the first 96 hours. . . . And we'll actually practice with those companies. Companies will have crisis management drills where they will work through a hypothetical scenario, a fire or a pipeline release. And in effect, drill or practice what the response is." ("Law360's Environmental Disaster Survival Guide: Preparation," April 1, 2016)