2222222222

Risk Insider: George Browne

Good Risk Housekeeping

By: | April 10, 2017 • 3 min read
George Browne, CFPS, has a B.S. in Fire Protection. He is Manager of Training Services for Global Risk Consultants. He manages fire protection services, and develops and delivers training programs for clients on an individual basis. He can be reached at [email protected]

When you hear the word housekeeping, what do you think of? Do the words attractive, neatly organized and clean come to mind?

At an office or retail property, where your operations are visible to the public, you want the facility to be welcoming and pleasing to the eye. Even facilities that the public does not enter benefit from a well-maintained exterior. While housekeeping can create a good impression, in risk management, there is much more to housekeeping than aesthetics and just making things look nice.

Good loss prevention housekeeping means paying attention to the details that can prevent a fire or, in the event of a fire, minimizing its impact.

Think about what you typically see in your facilities. There could be fuels, including wood, paper, plastic, other combustibles, or maybe flammable liquids of some type. When you recognize these fuels, you must identify why they are there, look at how they are stored or used, and recognize their value.

Packaging materials such as wood, paper or plastics might be used to package your products – in this case, these materials are valuable -, or were they used to ship raw materials to your facility, which would then be considered trash.

Advertisement




It is vital that you control what you allow in your building and remove what does not need to be there. For those materials (i.e. fuels) that must be in your building, consider how much you need at any given time. Is it possible to limit the quantity to what is needed for one shift or production run?

Look at all of your storage areas, including production areas, warehousing, stockrooms and all closets and rooms used for storage. These areas should be well organized and arranged to prevent the spread of fire; that includes keeping storage out of aisles.

Establishing and enforcing a standard for good loss control housekeeping can also affect the internal culture of your organization. Standards provide people with an expectation of what needs to be done.

Vigilence also includes maintaining storage types and heights so that a fire does not overwhelm the sprinkler system. Rack storage needs to be arranged with flue spaces between back-to-back racks and between the storage in the racks. These flue spaces allow heat to activate the closest sprinklers while allowing sprinkler water to penetrate the racks and control the fire.

Good housekeeping has other benefits, as well. Keeping machinery and equipment clean can prevent overheating that can cause premature failure or provide an ignition source to nearby combustibles.

Maintaining aisles and storage areas clean and free of excess materials provides clear paths for the movement of people and products. Eliminating dust, dirt, debris, or other contaminants in the area can also improve quality control.

Establishing and enforcing a standard for good loss control housekeeping can also affect the internal culture of your organization. Standards provide people with an expectation of what needs to be done. When people are able to meet expectations, they take pride in what they’ve accomplished, and it becomes the norm.

The obvious impact of good housekeeping is a neat, orderly, and well-organized space. The not- so-obvious risk control benefit is that you and your employees are reducing the potential for fires and equipment failures and improving quality by applying a standard that delivers those benefits. That should make a good impression on everyone.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Black Swans

Black Swans: Yes, It Can Happen Here

In this year's Black Swan coverage, we focus on two events: An Atlantic mega-tsunami which would wipe out the East Coast and a killer global pandemic.
By: | July 30, 2018 • 2 min read

One of the most difficult phrases to digest without becoming frustrated or judgmental is the oft-repeated, “I never thought that could happen here.”

Advertisement




Most painfully, we hear it time and time again in the aftermath of the mass school shootings that terrorize this country. Shocked parents and neighbors, viewing the carnage, voice that they can’t believe this happened in their neighborhood.

Not to be mean, but why couldn’t it happen in your neighborhood?

So it is with Black Swans, a phrase describing unforeseen events, made famous by the former trader and acerbic critic of academia Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

We at Risk & Insurance® define these events in insurance terms by saying that they are highly infrequent, yet could cause massive damages. This year, for our annual Black Swan issue, we present two very different scenarios, both of which would leave mass devastation in their wake.

A Mega-Tsunami Is Coming; Can the East Coast Even Prepare?, written by staff writer Autumn Heisler, profiles an Atlantic mega-tsunami, which would wipe out lives and commerce along the East Coast.

On the topic of whether the volcanic island of La Palma, the most northwestern of the Canary Islands, could erupt, split and trigger an Atlantic mega-tsunami, scientists are divided.

Researchers Steven Ward, a geophysicist at UC Santa Cruz, and Simon Day of University College London, say such a thing could happen. Other scientists say Day and Ward are dead wrong; it’s an impossibility.

One of the counter-arguments is backed up by the statement that there has never been an Atlantic mega-tsunami. It’s never happened before and thus, could never happen here. See exhibit “A” above, re: mass school shootings.

Viral Fear: How a Global Pandemic Kills an Economy, written by associate editor Katie Dwyer, depicts a killer global pandemic the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a century.

Tens of millions of people died during the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918.

Why it could happen again includes the fact that it’s happened before. The science on influenzas, which are constantly mutating, also supports just how dangerous a threat they pose to millions of people beyond the reach of antibiotics.

Should a mutating avian flu, for example, spread widely, we could see a 10 percent drop in GDP, mostly from non-physical business interruption.

As always here, the purpose is to do exactly what insurance modelers and underwriters do; no matter how massive the event, we create scenarios, quantify possible losses and discuss risk mitigation strategies. &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]