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Are you managing risk by intention or accident?

- August 7, 2019 by Thomas Jolliff, ARM, ALCM (View all posts by Thomas)

Managing RiskOrganizations that fail to allocate resources and full support to a dedicated safety person often risk watching their peers pass them by when it comes to risk identification and reduction.

As ICW Group has expanded into a national workers’ compensation carrier over the last decade, one of the nuances we have discovered regionally (from a safety and health standpoint) is how the states where we write business regulate workplace safety programs. In turn, there are varying degrees of when, if, and how, employers assign responsibility for a dedicated safety person for their business.

As a California-domiciled company, our CA customers are under the jurisdiction of Cal/OSHA, which in 1991 mandated all employers with ten more employees to implement a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).  From a compliance standpoint, companies scrambled, at that time, to fulfill their written IIPPs, and typically found their way to a vendor selling IIPP templates (voluminous, plug and play three-ring binders). Some companies also scrambled to place a person in charge of overseeing their program.

In the early years of the mandated IIPP, the safety manager hat was often ceremoniously tossed on to the heads of the production, operations or Human Resource managers. All skilled professionals in their respective jobs, but none with enough hours in the day to be truly intentional about overseeing the organization’s safety program.

The safest companies we see on a day-to-day basis and hold up as best in class examples are, above all else, intentional about managing risk in their operations. This risk management starts with formally assigning safety oversight responsibilities, whether that’s hiring for the position, or promoting and providing continuing education to a qualified employee.

We’ve all heard the saying, “What gets measured gets done.” In the world of safety and risk management, regular measurement, risk assessment, and reporting allow an organization to focus on risk management and safety, which allows for better decisions to improve loss experience results.

Assessing, identifying, and quantifying risk requires thoughtful analysis and focused attention. This focus doesn’t happen by accident, and it starts with assigning the safety role responsibility to a designated resource.

Whether your safety position is full-time or part-time, the key to success is choosing the right team member. A team member who can work independently; has demonstrated emotional intelligence (self-awareness; self-regulation; motivation; empathy and social skills); shows leadership qualities; has excellent written and oral skills; good soft skills, and above all, is coachable.

If your organization is at the point where it’s ready to assign a dedicated resource to safety and risk management, here are common day-to-day tasks you can use to write their job description:

  • Develop and implement written safety programs for all areas and operations of the company.
  • Provide information and solutions to senior management in all areas affecting or affected by an accidental loss.
  • Provide managers with information and tools to reduce workplace risk exposures and injuries. Example: periodic loss reports or loss analysis by department.
  • Assist supervisors in the investigation and coordination of activities following workplace mishaps (and near-miss incidents).
  • Monitor job and company safety performance, including review of accident records, reports, and statistics.
  • Provide for and assist locations with safety and health training efforts.
  • Ensure compliance with applicable federal, state, local, and contract safety requirements.
  • Conduct routine and periodic safety inspections with reports as prescribed by this program.
  • Be responsible for the completion and maintenance of accident reports and records including:
      • OSHA and state record-keeping requirements.
      • Accident reports for insurance purposes.
      • Reports and records required by company management.
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