This paper describes the effort to use a common industry practice, the Table Top Exercise, as a means to improve emergency response preparedness in an industrial setting. The primary focus of this paper will be the sharing of how to design and implement several scenarios that can be universally applied in a manufacturing or office setting. The inspiration for this paper came from the request of a company president to develop a mini-Table Top Exercise process that could be used during 30-minute safety meetings.

The exercise design process has been used for many years to train employees in emergency response preparedness. This process can be very time consuming because there are four main exercise elements (Orientation Seminar, Table Top Exercise, Functional Exercise, and finally the Full-Scale Exercise). Each successive exercise element requires more time and resources.

In recent years management has cultivated the perspective of wanting employees to do more work with fewer resources while producing a higher quality product in less time. Safety training is being thought of in the very same way. This paper will address how to adapt this process into a very cost effective, results oriented, time managed approach, which compliments the way management wants their business run. Safety meetings that are well planned can be very effective and time friendly. An Orientation Seminar coupled with a mini-version of the tried and proven Table Top Exercise technique can be used to meet these goals.

The steps used to create each of these exercises are basically the same. Select the team, brainstorm possible scenarios, review procedures, identify exercise responsibilities, list detailed exercise objectives, develop the scenario, conduct an Orientation Seminar, conduct the mini-Table Top Exercise, complete the critique, convey the lessons that were learned to everyone within the organization and use an audit or assessment to confirm that the training has been learned. The process is then repeated with a different scenario.

The Orientation Seminar and the mini-Table Top Exercise can be used effectively for sitewide exercises involving universal scenarios such as severe weather, evacuations, hazardous vapor releases, threatening phones calls, etc. The list can become very long. This paper will review how to develop the Orientation Seminar and the mini-Table Top Exercise for an evacuation, a hazardous vapor release, and a severe weather situation.

The exercise design process will be described but emphasis will be placed on the effective use of the Orientation Seminar and the mini-version of the Table Top Exercise as the tools for improving emergency response preparedness in any work setting.

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