Column: Workers' Comp

Creatively Building Wellness

By: | June 1, 2017 • 2 min read
Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at [email protected] Read more of his columns and features.

Richard Graham has a front row seat for viewing how work roles can influence employee health, even contributing to differences in physiques after years of performing certain jobs.

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Given his vantage point, the director of workers’ compensation for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is a believer in the wellness services SEPTA offers in an attempt to help its nearly 10,000 employees improve their health.

The wellness efforts provide an example of the creativity employers must reach for when other exposure mitigation strategies reveal their limits.

SEPTA bus drivers, whose roles require constant sitting, appear different after years of service than do SEPTA’s mechanics, whose physical jobs entail frequent movement throughout their workdays.

His observation of body differences isn’t the only factor making Graham a wellness believer. Claims severity, and the frequency of comorbidities impacting injury recovery also differs substantially between the two occupations.

“I’m a believer because I don’t think you have to look too much further than the differences in our workforce,” Graham said. “You start to see the folks that are on their feet, moving and doing different things every day. We know that more often they are going to get better, recovering [faster post injury] than the folks that are not moving.”

It is also easier to engineer workplace safety measures that mitigate mechanic injury frequency.

SEPTA bus drivers, whose roles require constant sitting, appear different after years of service than do SEPTA’s mechanics, whose physical jobs entail frequent movement throughout their workdays.

SEPTA adopted many accident-prevention measures for its buses and drivers. But unlike its ability to control the mechanics’ environment, it can’t control the weather or the other motorists that its bus operators encounter on crowded city streets.  That caps SEPTA’s ability to mitigate causes of bus driver injury frequency.

Meanwhile, there is no replacement for the valuable experience its bus drivers of many years bring to the job, Graham said. SEPTA needs them at work to provide the public with about 1.1 million daily rides, and do so on schedule.

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So SEPTA employs a range of claims strategies like assigning nurse case managers to help injured workers with the comorbidities that can complicate their return to work.

But in hopes of reducing comorbidities and claims severity further, SEPTA partners with the University of Pennsylvania for a weight-loss program employees can participate in.

SEPTA also sponsors a farm-share program to help employees buy fresh produce, offers yoga classes at its headquarters, and placed stationary bikes in four workplace locations where bus drivers congregate.

Personal responsibility is also a huge factor in a worker’s health and it’s up to the drivers to get on those bikes and take advantage of SEPTA’s other health improvement offerings.

SEPTA, meanwhile, does not yet have outcomes data to definitively determine the effectiveness of its wellness offerings.

Complacency isn’t a risk-management tool. Creativity is. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

As a professor of business, Jack Hampton knows firsthand the positive impact education has on risk managers as they tackle growing risks.
By: | April 9, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Ellen Thrower, president (retired), The College of Insurance, introduced me to the importance of insurance as a component of risk management. Further, she encouraged me to explore strategic and operational risk as foundation topics shaping the role of the modern risk manager.

Chris Mandel, former president of RIMS and Risk Manager of the Year, introduced me to the emerging area of enterprise risk management. He helped me recognize the need to align hazard, strategic, operational and financial risk into a single framework. He gave me the perspective of ERM in a high-tech environment, using USAA as a model program that later won an excellence award for innovation.

Bob Morrell, founder and former CEO of Riskonnect, showed me how technology could be applied to solving serious risk management and governance problems. He created a platform that made some of my ideas practical and extended them into a highly-successful enterprise that served risk and governance management needs of major corporations.

R&I: How did you come to work in this industry?

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From a background in corporate finance and commercial banking, I accepted the position of provost of The College of Insurance. Recognizing my limited prior knowledge in the field, I became a student of insurance and risk management leading to authorship of books on hazard and financial risk. This led to industry consulting, as well as to the development of graduate-level courses and concentrations in MBA programs.

R&I: What was your first job?

The provost position was the first job I had in the industry, after serving as dean of the Seton Hall University School of Business and founding The Princeton Consulting Group. Earlier positions were in business development with Marine Transport Lines, consulting in commercial banking and college professorships.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Creating a risk management concentration in the MBA program at Saint Peter’s, co-founding the Russian Risk Management Society (RUSRISK), and writing “Fundamentals of Enterprise Risk Management” and the “AMA Handbook of Financial Risk Management.”

A few years ago, I expanded into risk management in higher education. From 2017 into 2018, Rowman and Littlefield published my four books that address risks facing colleges and universities, professors, students and parents.

Jack Hampton, Professor of Business, St. Peter’s University

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

The Godfather. I see it as a story of managing risk, even as the behavior of its leading characters create risk for others.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Jameson’s Irish whiskey. Mixed with a little ice, it is a serious rival for Johnny Walker Gold scotch and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Mount Etna, Taormina, and Agrigento, Sicily. I actually supervised an MBA program in Siracusa and learned about risk from a new perspective.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

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Army Airborne training and jumping out of an airplane. Fortunately, I never had to do it in combat even though I served in Vietnam.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

George C. Marshall, one of the most decorated military leaders in American history, architect of the economic recovery program for Europe after World War II, and recipient of the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize. For Marshall, it was not just about winning the war. It was also about winning the peace.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

Sharing lessons with colleagues and students by writing, publishing and teaching. A professor with a knowledge of risk management does not only share lessons. The professor is also a student when MBA candidates talk about the risks they manage every day.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

Sensitizing for-profit, nonprofit and governmental agencies to the exposures and complexities facing their organizations. Sometimes we focus too much on strategies that sound good but do not withstand closer examination. Risk managers help organizations make better decisions.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

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Developing executive training programs to help risk managers assume C-suite positions in organizations. Insurance may be a good place to start but so is an MBA degree. The Risk and Insurance Management Society recognizes the importance of a wide range of risk knowledge. Colleges and universities need to catch up with RIMS.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

Cyber risk and its impact on hazard, operational and financial strategies. A terrorist can take down a building. A cyber-criminal can take down much more.

R&I: What does your family think you do?

My family members think I’m a professor. They do not seem to be too interested in my views on risk management.




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]