Starting from the statement that all activities involve, in principle, an exposure to risk, some years ago, the standard ISO 31000:2009 was published, in order to provide principles and generic guidelines on the management of risks within organizations of all types and sizes throughout their whole life. The standard does not specify the exact nature of risk (i.e. industrial, natural, occupational, etc.) nor it is specific to any industry or sector, therefore any public, private or community enterprise, association, group or individual is supposed to be able to use it. The standard ISO 31000:2009 is supported by the standard ISO 31010:2009, which provides guidance on the selection and application of systematic techniques for risk assessment.
In a less generic framework, risk can be due to different activities that are carried out in different industrial sector. Among them, activities involving dangerous substances may be cause of accidents. The Seveso III Directive (2012/18/EU) aims at the prevention of major accidents involving these substances. The Directive covers establishments where dangerous substances may be present (e.g. during processing or storage) in quantities exceeding certain threshold. Depending on the amount of dangerous substances present, establishments are categorized in upper and lower tier, the latter may include also some SMEs adopting dangerous substances in their activities (a typical example is the electroplating industry).
The legal framework established by the Directive creates a continuous improvement cycle of prevention, preparedness and response to major accidents. The cycle is closed by provisions on lesson learned, similarly to ISO 31000:2009 and ISO 31010:2009 standards.
Also in the framework of Directive 89/391/EEC, which is aimed at offering guidance and promotes healthy and safe working environments - particularly in small businesses, some aspects related to accidents due to critical activities are present and the same general principle of risk management according to a cycle of continuous improvement can be applied.
In this work a procedure aimed at the application of a continuous improvement approach to emergency planning, response and management starting from risk assessment and management activities is shown also with the aid of a practical illustrative example based on a small facility under Seveso III directive.