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CSA launches new emergency management standard

By Mari-Len De Guzman

The Canadian Standards Association has released a new standardproviding a framework for Canadian businesses to help them plan andprepare for an emergency and ensure business continuity.

The CSA officially launched CSA Z1600 in a press conference held in Toronto Wednesday. Speaking at the event were Suzanne Kiraly, CSA president, standards, Adrian Gordon, president and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness, and James Shannon, president and CEO of the U.S. National Fire Protection Association. [a target="_blank" href=",com_seyret/Itemid,110/id,36/task,videodirectlink/"]

[Watch the launching of Z1600]


The new CSA Z1600 is based on the U.S. NFPA 1600 Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, a document that has been used by Canadian businesses in the past.

When a disaster or emergency happens, getting businesses back up and running is key, not only to the economy, but also to "show the world that we won't be deterred," says Shannon, citing the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina as examples.

Despite the headline-grabbing disasters that happened in recent history, "often, we see little (mention) of the effort that it takes for companies and communities to recover," Gordon says.

The new Canadian standard looks at both the American and Canadian approach to managing emergencies, says Suzanne Kiraly, president of standards at the CSA.

“(CSA Z1600) is a comprehensive approach that would apply to both public and private sector organizations and it helps them to consider what they need to do to prevent, mitigate, get ready and respond to emergency,” says Kiraly.

In addition to the NFPA 1600 standard, Canadian businesses in the past relied on other emergency preparedness standards such as the CAN/CSA Z731. However, this standard primarily applies only to the industrial sector and focuses on what to do and how to respond to an emergency, says Kiraly.

Z1600 is a more comprehensive document as it applies to any type of industry, including private and public organizations, government and non-government organizations, and incorporates a framework for business continuity in the event of an emergency, according to Gordon.

"We believe that this new standard will become the definitive standard for emergency management and business continuity in Canada. It will also help bridge the divide between public and private organizations especially in protecting our national critical infrastructure," says Gordon.

Kiraly says Z1600 will help organizations to prepare to plan for, respond to and mitigate any kind of disaster.

“It helps you look at the risks of something happening. How do you plan for it? What kind of communications, staff plan and business continuity plan you would need to have in place so that you survive, but that you also continue.”

In a highly competitive and increasingly global marketplace, businesses can’t afford any downtime in their operations.

“More and more companies realize that if they can say, ‘We’ll always be there to help you,’ then other companies would be willing to partner with them and they are also willing to pay a premium price for premium service,” says Graeme Jannaway, managing director at business continuity and emergency management consulting Jannaway & Associates and chair of the technical committee for Z1600.

Recent surveys indicate, however, about 40 per cent of businesses in Canada have no business continuity plan in place, he says. And some industries are quicker to adopt than others.

The financially services sector, for instance, tends to be more proactive in emergency management and business continuity planning, says Jannaway, partly driven by regulatory and compliance requirements. “If you don’t plan ahead, you can’t move fast enough to recover.”

To order a copy of the new CSA Z1600, go to CSA’s online store at

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