Delays in Emergency Response Times: The Hidden Cost to Safety and the Bottom Line

July 10, 2023

When an emergency occurs in an industrial setting, every second counts. Whether it's a fire alarm, a spill, or an accident involving personnel or equipment, a prompt response can mean the difference between containing the situation and watching it spiral out of control. In environments where safety is paramount,response time can be a critical factor in preventing injuries, protecting assets and products, and minimizing downtime and financial losses.


The Costs of Delay

The cost of wasting and delaying time locating and responding to alarms can be staggering. In the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries, where hazardous chemicals and complex products are handled, the potential for accidents is high, and the consequences of a delay in responding can be catastrophic. The financial impact of an emergency can be enormous, with direct costs including significant impacts on people, products,and facilities, and indirect costs such as reputation, insurance claims, and legal fees. “With pharmaceutical manufacturing units running at greater capacity than ever, downtime can cost up to $20,000 a minute”,equating to $1.2M per hour (Kruglyak, 2021).Delayed response times can also lead to serious injuries or fatalities, causing physical and emotional trauma for affected individuals and their families, as well as damage to a company's reputation, leading to a loss of public trust and market share."


Why It’s Critical to Act Instantly!

With the size and complexity of life science and pharmaceutical facilities, locating and navigating to the exact location of an incident,wasting zero time can be difficult. With there being a direct correlation between response times and the "average loss per fire", "percentage of fires which are 'large'", and the "probability of death per fire",as shown in the graphs below, it has never been more critical to ensure you have a way of instantly locating all alarms.

Graph 1: Average Loss per Fire v Response Time

Graph 2: ‘Large’ Fire v Response Time

Graph 3: Probability of Death per Fire v Response Time

Outcomes from Delays in Locating Alarms in the Real World

Delays in locating alarms in pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities have led to significant damage,production delays, and, in some cases, loss of life over the years. Fires at Boehringer Ingelheim, Aesica Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, and Pharmalucence facilities due to difficulties in locating the source of the fire have led to extensive damage and disrupted the production of pharmaceutical products. In another incident, an explosion at Nitta Gelatin in India caused the death of one worker and injuries to six others due to delayed emergency response and hazard identification. Timely emergency response and proper hazard identification are crucial in preventing incidents and minimizing their impact on the industry and the surrounding community.


What Can Be Done?

To minimize the risk of a negative outcome, emergency response times need to be improved. Studies have shown that the average industrial response time by an onsite response team in extensive manufacturing facilities is around 10 to 15 minutes, which can be improved by implementing modern technology, enhancing emergency response workflows.

One solution that has been shown to reduce response times significantly is PlantQuest's EHS solution,which is optimized for brownfield facilities. PlantQuest’s EHS solution allows response teams to quickly and efficiently locate the source of the alarm and navigate to the incident, minimizing delays and allowing for prompt action. The Google Maps-like solution (with signal-free navigation functionality) has been adopted by some of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies. A recent case study on the deployment outlined how PlantQuest has enabled the onsite emergency response team (ERT) to reduce response times by up to 75% while enhancing the ERT training workflows and overall facility safety.

Implementing modern technology and emergency response plans can also positively impact the bottom line. By reducing the frequency and severity of accidents, companies can lower insurance premiums, reduce downtime, and minimize the costs associated with legal and regulatory compliance. Furthermore, by demonstrating a commitment to safety and the well-being of employees, companies can improve their reputation and attract and retain top talent.



In conclusion, the risks of delayed response time can be catastrophic, from lost production to severe injuries or fatalities. However, with modern technology such as PlantQuest's, companies can significantly reduce response times, improving safety and minimizing financial losses. By prioritizing safety and investing in the right solutions, companies can protect their employees, assets, and bottom line.

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