The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) is a governmental body, whose aim is, through regulations and controls, to ensure that food and drinking water are as safe and healthy as possible for consumers and to promote plant, fish and animal health. NFSA regulations cover the ethical keeping of animals and encourage environmentally friendly production. They also regulate and control cosmetics and animal health personnel.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s role is to draft and provide information on legislation, perform risk-based inspections, monitor food safety as well as plant, fish and animal health and provide updates on developments in their field and plan for emergencies. NFSA advise the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Care Services.
The NFSA has two administrative levels – the head office and five regions with a total staff of 1200. They handle between 500 and 1000 disease outbreaks and incidents annually.
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The Norwegian Food Safety Authority experienced that their existing tool for logging of events did not meet the needs of the organisation for reporting and handling of incidents. The log gave little or no flexibility and the flat structure made it difficult for the management to have a clear update and overview of the situation. Contingency manager Hedda Eli Høiland Aas says:
”There was no information board or sorting of the reports and incidents logged. This made it difficult to get the necessary transparency of information, and difficult to share information between different teams and team members. There was also no link to contingency plans or checklists.”
The NFSA is a contingency organisation and must be ready to deal with undesirable incidents within a broad administrative area. When looking for a new Crisis management system, they had to search for a dynamic and flexible tool, Aas says:
”With our broad area of responsibility, it is difficult to foresee all events and what we will need. Forms and logs in the system must therefore be easy to change and modify, according to the needs during the actual incident.”
Based on the experience with CIM in other Norwegian departments and authorities, NFSA decided to invest in CIM as their main tool for crisis and incident management.
NFSA started implementing CIM in 2016 and put the system to its first test during a full-scale exercise in 2017. The experience was that CIM proved to help manage information more effectively, Aas says:
”CIM proved to be a very flexible tool, and easy to modify to the needs during the handling of incidents. Within less than an hour the report forms and logs were updated to suit the incident specific needs for reporting and sharing of information. The information boards and the meeting module with link to tasks and checklists also help management get a quick situation status.”
The implementation of CIM has helped the contingency organisation NFSA with better logging, better situation overview and better information sharing and collaboration internally and with other authorities involved.
Incidents and disease outbreaks can occur literally anywhere, and in most cases fieldworkers in one of the five regions will be the first to discover them. Every one of the 1,200 staff therefore has access to start logging an incident in CIM and to alert the organisation.
|Control at a fast food restaurant, image by NFSA|
Depending on the incident logged, the staff are presented with the corresponding contingency plans and action cards with further instructions for the initial first two hours.
Most incidents are minor and can be handled locally with or without support from the head office. For incidents and disease outbreaks of regional or national concern, head office will manage the incident with a crisis staff mobilized via CIM, based on field of expertise needed.
The meeting module is used for call to status meetings, and the management team uses the set schedule in CIM. Assigned tasks are linked to the decisions made and instantly logged. The status is then followed up in the next meeting. Information boards give a real time status and show whether tasks have been completed or not.
The meeting minutes with situation report, worst-case scenario and list of completed and implemented activities, form the basis for a report that is shared through CIM internally and with other departments and authorities involved. The Meeting Module is now also used every day as the standard tool for managing all meetings, not only during crisis and incidents.