Column: Workers' Comp

Got Milk?

By: | November 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.

On one side stand anti-immigrant activists, some calling illegal immigrant workers rapists and murderers needing instant deportation.

On the other side stands an industry facing a tightening labor market concerned about retaining immigrant laborers, many lacking legal work documentation yet skilled in performing dirty, dangerous jobs.

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That’s the situation facing the dairy industry, a labor-intensive milking and feeding business that helps sustain the nation. It is a story that illustrates employee safety and workers’ compensation themes as the industry increases efforts to keep its scarce workers on the job.

The Idaho Dairymen’s Assn., for example, recently launched a safety program that includes teaching workers how to think like the animals they work with, said Bob Naerebout, the association’s executive director.

“Anytime you have an employee — and we consider all employees to be key employees — absent from work, that means you have to replace them with somebody who is not as well trained,” Naerebout said.

“There is an indirect cost in all of that.”

Naerebout’s words should sound familiar to employers across all industries whose safety and disability management programs have increasingly become key to keeping scarce, skilled workers on the job.

“Anytime you have an employee — and we consider all employees to be key employees — absent from work, that means you have to replace them with somebody who is not as well trained.” — Bob Naerebout, executive director, Idaho Dairymen’s Association

Savvy risk managers also know the indirect costs resulting from worker accidents and the increased injury risks accompanying new, replacement workers unfamiliar with the workplace.

“The labor market is tight, so you increase your efficiency by keeping your trained labor there — not by having to bring in substitute labor or temporary labor,” Naerebout said.

Productivity concerns are just one reason dairy organizations increasingly emphasize safety. They face intensified scrutiny following serious accidents.

Skid loaders, used to move feed and manure, can crush dairy workers. Other employees drown in manure pits. Did I mention these are dirty, dangerous jobs?

Workers get kicked by cows and squeezed by their 1,500-pound mass. To protect themselves, dairy farms, like other employers, purchase workers’ comp insurance.

Meanwhile, agricultural operations view heightened anti-immigrant rhetoric as a threat while dairy associations lobby Washington for immigration reform.

“Those who lack proper documentation — we feel obligated to them, to try and get comprehensive immigration reform that will provide them legal status,” Naerebout said.

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There are also public education efforts.

The National Milk Producers Federation, for example, reports that half of all dairy farm workers are immigrants and losing them would double retail milk prices, costing the U.S. economy tens of billions of dollars.

Opposing their efforts are the anti-immigrant activists, like a radio host who dismisses dairy industry concerns over a tight labor market. Kick welfare recipients off the public dole and they will work dairy jobs, the radio host argues.

“We are one of the few organizations that is standing up to [the anti-immigrant rhetoric], advocating for immigration reform,” Naerebout said. But quelling those voices might prove even tougher than mitigating workers’ comp losses.

“I am not sure there is anything that would satisfy them,” Naerebout said. &

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]