A US Department of Transportation study, The Transportation Management Center Staffing and Scheduling for Day-to-Day Operations, provides managers, supervisors, human resource personnel, and private contractors with valuable insights for Transportation Management Center (TMC) staffing and scheduling decisions. The study addresses the concepts, methods, processes, tasks, techniques, and other issues related to work analysis, scheduling, and staff planning. Several methods for analyzing aspects of work are covered, including job analysis, workload analysis, and demand analysis. General scheduling practices, issues associated with shiftwork, and methods on how to create a staffing plan and planning for emergencies are also discussed.
TMCs would benefit from creating a staffing plan to handle potential emergencies and special events. Although the exact time when an emergency will occur is not known in advance, the probability of an emergency event such as a severe flood or hazardous chemical spill occurring over a range of months or years may be high.
- Ensure that enough staff is available to support events. Perhaps the most common element of event planning is a lack of the necessary staff to effectively handle the situation. In addition, a staffing shortage may occur because of poor scheduling or because one or more employees did not report to work. Several methods for handling staff shortages should be formulated in preparation for when the situation arises. The list below contains several common strategies:
- Access additional staff from a temporary agency or contractor
- Call in employees who have been promoted or moved to other sections of the organization
- Call in off duty employees
- Call in retired employees
- Create a list of volunteers within the organization who can perform critical duties during a staff shortage
- Cross train staff to perform other critical duties (e.g., train technical staff or maintenance personnel to perform operations duties)
- Decrease the level of service or number of functions supported
- Have management, supervisors, or shift leaders perform the duties of their subordinates
- Place employees on-call in case of emergencies
- Redistribute workload among available staff
- Retain the current shift and/or call in the next shift early
- Plan well in advance for events that may occur in the future and execute the plan when the event occurs. Emergencies are unplanned events that may have any number of adverse consequences. Natural disasters and terrorist attacks often occur without warning. Even for events that can be predicted to some degree such as a blizzard, the advanced warning is often short and the information imprecise. The most effective strategy is to plan well in advance for events that may occur in the future, and to execute the plan when the event occurs. This strategy requires organizational coordination, communication, and informed decision-making. Developing an operational plan for an emergency also often requires a high degree of coordination with other agencies. For example, a blizzard may require the coordination of emergency medical services, police, and snow plow services. The first part of the plan defines when the plan should go into effect. Emergency procedures include the actions employees should perform. The emergency plan should specify training that will familiarize the staff with the alarm systems, emergency equipment, and the location of the equipment.
- Formulate emergency actions for emergencies that occur within the TMC. Emergency actions also need to be formulated for emergencies that occur within the TMC. The following list suggests events for which a staffing plan should specify the necessary actions to take and the proper authorities to notify about the event. The list below contains examples of internal emergencies:
- Communication loss
- Loss of power
- Severe weather
- Consult the FEMA emergency management guide when planning for an emergency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has prepared a guide for business and industry on emergency management that covers how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from an emergency: (http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/bizindst.pdf).
Many events faced by a TMC are common enough to warrant a staffing plan tailored to the event or group of related events to ensure the safety and mobility of the traveling public. The purpose of an emergency plan is to ensure that the full performance capability of the TMC is realized when an emergency event occurs. Planning is necessary to ensure that all components of the TMC mitigate the emergency to the fullest and most efficient extent possible under different operating conditions, even when components of the TMC are affected by the emergency. Emergency planning may require some degree of generality because the specifics of the emergency will not be known in advance.
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