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The Do's and Don'ts of Managing Risk in the New Year

January 01, 2021 David Wylie

Did your organization make a New Year’s resolution to ramp up its risk management program? Our experts are here to help. Use this list of do’s and don’ts to control the costs associated with workplace accidents, data breaches, property damage, and other incidents in 2021 and beyond.

Understand your coverage

At the Fund, we specialize in the risks facing educational entities in Texas. Our coverage programs are specifically designed to meet our members’ needs:

  • Do make sure you understand your coverage, including deductibles, exclusions, and member duties. For example, Property claims might not be covered if the member did not comply with their duty to perform preventative maintenance. Our Coverage 101 blog series provides an informative, high-level look at each Fund coverage program.

  • Don’t think of your coverage as an umbrella you only use on a rainy day. Our consultants have the expertise to help you prevent incidents and control their costs when they do occur. And with Fund webinars and online training, your team can get the information and tools they need to manage risk, all without leaving their offices.

Demonstrate leadership commitment

Successful risk management programs start at the top of the org chart. If employees believe leaders unconditionally support the program, they are more likely to buy in.

  • Do make a case for risk management to leadership and ensure they allocate the resources necessary to implement your initiatives. For example, the information technology team should include professionals who are trained to protect against constantly evolving cyber scams. Similarly, emergency operations plans must allow time for required safety drills.
  • Don’t settle for lip service. Authorizing monetary and human capital investments in the risk management program is just part of the job. Leaders must set the tone by following the same best practices they expect employees to follow, attending training sessions, responding to employee concerns, recognizing success, and fostering open communication.

Invest in an accident prevention plan

Every educational entity is unique, but at least one principle applies across our sector: Experienced, dedicated employees are more valuable on the job than sitting at home recovering from workplace injuries. An accident prevention plan (APP) provides a foundation for preventing accidents, controlling their associated costs, and boosting productivity.

  • Do start with the accident investigation component of your APP if time and resources are limited. Investigations help you uncover the root causes of incidents and take steps to ensure they do not happen again.
  • Don’t overlook opportunities to apply APP core elements to other risk management initiatives. For example, employee training and engagement are critical to protecting your organization’s sensitive data. Similarly, detailed recordkeeping drives roof preventative maintenance programs.

Focus on continuous improvement

Chances are, your organization hired new people, bought new equipment, or introduced new work processes. In fact, you probably did all three – and more. Do your risk management programs reflect those changes?

  • Do set goals and evaluate your programs regularly. Consider a fleet preventative maintenance plan for context. Increases in accidents, repairs, and unscheduled downtime are red flags that could indicate gaps you need to address.
  • Don’t leave employees out of the conversation. They know the risks associated with their jobs better than anyone. Ask them to help you plan, implement, and continuously improve your programs.

Stay vigilant about pandemic best practices

Health officials delivered potentially positive news on the pandemic front in December. Still, the virus will likely remain on your radar into the summer, if not beyond. Reinforce your commitment to these best practices:

  • Do promote the importance of practicing social distancing, washing hands, coughing into the elbow, staying home when sick, and quarantining when necessary.
  • Don’t silo your longstanding workplace safety efforts and your efforts to protect against the pandemic. For example, basis hazardous chemical training will serve employees well whether they are disinfecting for COVID-19, the flu, or other common viruses. Upgrading air filters and improving ventilation during the pandemic also promotes indoor air quality year-round.

Let’s collaborate in 2021

The Fund has a vested interest in helping members manage risk. We don’t know what 2021 will look like, but we do know our expert staff will be here for you, just as we have been for more than 45 years. We also encourage you to learn how other members tackled risk-related challenges your organization might face in the new year.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Tagged: "best practices", "employee safety", Safety