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The Slippery Exposure that Eludes Safety Managers

Take preventive measures to reduce the frequency of general liability claims involving slips and falls.
By: | March 21, 2018 • 6 min read

If your building has a parking lot, a common entryway, or any uncarpeted floors, you have a significant slip and fall risk.

According to CNA’s data covering a 7-year period, slips and falls account for 36% of claims in their top five industries. With an average cost of $30,000, general liability claims from slips and falls can put a big dent in a company’s bottom line over time*.

And those are the claims that do not involve serious consequences like traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Though infrequent, claims involving a TBI can reach almost $300,000.

”Office and retail spaces are not immune to the slip and fall risk,” said Steve Hernandez, Senior Vice President, Commercial Risk Control, CNA. “From both the frequency and severity standpoint, safety managers for these types of facilities aren’t always aware of the extent of their slip and fall exposure.”

In 2010, CNA noticed an uptick in their general liability claims involving slips and falls. They found that most were the result of walkway surfaces just inside the main entryway of commercial buildings. In 2017, after a two-year investigation, a team of walkway specialists found half of the locations they surveyed failed to meet the minimum threshold for slip resistance set by the American National Standards Institute.

Their study illuminated what safety managers were doing wrong when it comes to measuring slip resistance, floor maintenance, and risk awareness in order to prevent and minimize the damage from falls.

The Source of Slips

Steve Hernandez
Senior Vice President, Commercial Risk Control, CNA

In many cases, safety managers at Class A, LEED-certified buildings — which had seen the biggest spikes in slip and fall liability claims within CNA’s portfolio— thought they were following proper protocols. But their risk mitigation efforts were missing the mark, sometimes even worsening the hazard.

Class A properties like those utilized by real estate companies and financial institutions are at increased risk due to the types of flooring they feature.

“Think of those beautiful, shiny marble or terrazzo floors,” said Shari Falkenburg, Assistant Vice President, Risk Control, CNA. “They are pristine by design. To maintain LEED certification, cleaning crews have to maintain them, but improper cleaning can make floors more slippery.”

Different floor types require different cleaning solutions. That terrazzo, for example, calls for a cleaner with neutral pH and thorough rinsing. The acid-based solutions used for ceramic and porcelain would damage it. Proper cleaning also requires careful management of mops and buckets.

Using the same mop bucket to clean multiple surface types can lead to cross-contamination of debris and leave a soapy residue behind, leaving floors more slippery than before they were cleaned.

“Even the way you store a mop matters,” Hernandez said. “The handle end should point down. Keeping the mop end on the floor means it’s always in contact with debris and won’t clear away contaminants as effectively.”

Facilities also commonly use entryway mats to help absorb the moisture and dirt that pedestrians track in. But like cleaning solutions, a mismatched or improperly used mat can heighten fall risk.

A mat that’s too short, for example, may not collect enough of that moisture and debris. It could also introduce a new tripping hazard if it’s fraying or curling at the edges.

“One building was using a rectangular mat in a circular entryway, and people were actually stepping around the mat when they came through the door. So in some cases a custom-sized mat may be necessary to do the job it’s intended for,” Hernandez said.

The CNA Risk control team helped several real estate companies and bank branches they surveyed to implement specific changes in their floor maintenance. In addition, the team widened the customer’s knowledge about contracts with their property managers and cleaning crew. As a result, the average cost of a fall general liability claim fell to about $10,000 — a 66 percent decrease.

More than the Floor: Full Exposure Expertise

Targeted, site-specific prevention recommendations demonstrate why risk managers should consult safety experts. By bringing extra engineering resources and industry expertise to bear, risk control specialists can help facility managers gain a more detailed picture of their exposure and identify innovative ways to mitigate it.

CNA’s slip and fall study team, for example, evaluated floor slipperiness using the science of tribometry – a technical way to measure slip resistance while walking by determining the dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF). Using a Binary Output Tribometer (BOT 3000E), they could score each floor DCOF and compare it against industry standard ANSI A326.3. Any score above 0.42 is considered a passing grade.

“But reducing the frequency of falls is not just about the traction of the walking surface. It’s also about visual acuity — something else a facility manager might not think about.” Falkenburg said. “We apply the science of syntonics, which has been used in optometry for a few years. Basically, we’re using light to direct line of sight and wake up the body’s internal sensors – the ability to focus and balance.”

Changing the lighting can reduce excessive glare and help to brighten colors. Creating more contrast helps people more easily register changes in flooring condition or elevation.

“By taking a scientific approach and comparing the results against industry benchmarks, we can take definitive and proven steps to reduce physical hazards,” she said.

A Strategic & Trusted Risk Advisor

CNA’s team of risk control experts meets with clients on a regular basis across the U.S. to help implement these tools and more. Along with sector-specific expertise in fields like construction, manufacturing, technology, financial institutions and healthcare, they also have an understanding of insurance coverages including property, general liability, product liability, and workers’ compensation. Many have achieved their professional designations including the Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE) and Associate in Risk Management (ARM). CNA risk control experts also hold the unique professional credential of UL RRE (Registered Risk Engineer).

“Our segment knowledge compliments our expertise in the lines of business we cover, so we really bring a depth of experience, insight and the ability to benchmark our best practices to our customers,” Falkenburg said.

“Our engagement with insureds starts with a conversation about the nature of their business, including operating priorities and the strategies put in place to mitigate risk,” Hernandez said.

“The purpose of risk control is to assess the level of risk for underwriting purposes, but it often leads to a discussion on the creation of recommendations to strengthen control mechanisms.”

“We are committed to bringing value to our insureds through specific consulting services built for specific segments,” Hernandez said. CNA provides ongoing support in the form of hundreds of online educational opportunities through its School of Risk Control Excellence (SORCE®), which offers courses across a range of risk management topics. And risk control consultants are always at the ready to meet with a company to address a specific need and/or a strategic risk management objective.

“We frequently receive calls from insureds asking us for input on a new product or facility, or a potential change in their processes,” Hernandez said.

“And that really is our goal; to be a strategic and trusted risk advisor for our policyholders and an extension of their risk management team.”

Learn more about CNA’s Slip and Fall Study Report.

 

* CNA’s Slip and Fall Study Report

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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with CNA. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




Serving business and professionals since 1897, CNA is the commercial insurance carrier of choice for more than 1 million businesses and professionals worldwide.

Cyber Resilience

No, Seriously. You Need a Comprehensive Cyber Incident Response Plan Before It’s Too Late.

Awareness of cyber risk is increasing, but some companies may be neglecting to prepare adequate response plans that could save them millions. 
By: | June 1, 2018 • 7 min read

To minimize the financial and reputational damage from a cyber attack, it is absolutely critical that businesses have a cyber incident response plan.

“Sadly, not all yet do,” said David Legassick, head of life sciences, tech and cyber, CNA Hardy.

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In the event of a breach, a company must be able to quickly identify and contain the problem, assess the level of impact, communicate internally and externally, recover where possible any lost data or functionality needed to resume business operations and act quickly to manage potential reputational risk.

This can only be achieved with help from the right external experts and the design and practice of a well-honed internal response.

The first step a company must take, said Legassick, is to understand its cyber exposures through asset identification, classification, risk assessment and protection measures, both technological and human.

According to Raf Sanchez, international breach response manager, Beazley, cyber-response plans should be flexible and applicable to a wide range of incidents, “not just a list of consecutive steps.”

They also should bring together key stakeholders and specify end goals.

Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions

With bad actors becoming increasingly sophisticated and often acting in groups, attack vectors can hit companies from multiple angles simultaneously, meaning a holistic approach is essential, agreed Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions.

“Collaboration is key — you have to take silos down and work in a cross-functional manner.”

This means assembling a response team including individuals from IT, legal, operations, risk management, HR, finance and the board — each of whom must be well drilled in their responsibilities in the event of a breach.

“You can’t pick your players on the day of the game,” said Hogg. “Response times are critical, so speed and timing are of the essence. You should also have a very clear communication plan to keep the CEO and board of directors informed of recommended courses of action and timing expectations.”

People on the incident response team must have sufficient technical skills and access to critical third parties to be able to make decisions and move to contain incidents fast. Knowledge of the company’s data and network topology is also key, said Legassick.

“Perhaps most important of all,” he added, “is to capture in detail how, when, where and why an incident occurred so there is a feedback loop that ensures each threat makes the cyber defense stronger.”

Cyber insurance can play a key role by providing a range of experts such as forensic analysts to help manage a cyber breach quickly and effectively (as well as PR and legal help). However, the learning process should begin before a breach occurs.

Practice Makes Perfect

“Any incident response plan is only as strong as the practice that goes into it,” explained Mike Peters, vice president, IT, RIMS — who also conducts stress testing through his firm Sentinel Cyber Defense Advisors.

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Unless companies have an ethical hacker or certified information security officer on board who can conduct sophisticated simulated attacks, Peters recommended they hire third-party experts to test their networks for weaknesses, remediate these issues and retest again for vulnerabilities that haven’t been patched or have newly appeared.

“You need to plan for every type of threat that’s out there,” he added.

Hogg agreed that bringing third parties in to conduct tests brings “fresh thinking, best practice and cross-pollination of learnings from testing plans across a multitude of industries and enterprises.”

“Collaboration is key — you have to take silos down and work in a cross-functional manner.” — Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions

Legassick added that companies should test their plans at least annually, updating procedures whenever there is a significant change in business activity, technology or location.

“As companies expand, cyber security is not always front of mind, but new operations and territories all expose a company to new risks.”

For smaller companies that might not have the resources or the expertise to develop an internal cyber response plan from whole cloth, some carriers offer their own cyber risk resources online.

Evan Fenaroli, an underwriting product manager with the Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY), said his company hosts an eRiskHub, which gives PHLY clients a place to start looking for cyber event response answers.

That includes access to a pool of attorneys who can guide company executives in creating a plan.

“It’s something at the highest level that needs to be a priority,” Fenaroli said. For those just getting started, Fenaroli provided a checklist for consideration:

  • Purchase cyber insurance, read the policy and understand its notice requirements.
  • Work with an attorney to develop a cyber event response plan that you can customize to your business.
  • Identify stakeholders within the company who will own the plan and its execution.
  • Find outside forensics experts that the company can call in an emergency.
  • Identify a public relations expert who can be called in the case of an event that could be leaked to the press or otherwise become newsworthy.

“When all of these things fall into place, the outcome is far better in that there isn’t a panic,” said Fenaroli, who, like others, recommends the plan be tested at least annually.

Cyber’s Physical Threat

With the digital and physical worlds converging due to the rise of the Internet of Things, Hogg reminded companies: “You can’t just test in the virtual world — testing physical end-point security is critical too.”

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How that testing is communicated to underwriters should also be a key focus, said Rich DePiero, head of cyber, North America, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

Don’t just report on what went well; it’s far more believable for an underwriter to hear what didn’t go well, he said.

“If I hear a client say it is perfect and then I look at some of the results of the responses to breaches last year, there is a disconnect. Help us understand what you learned and what you worked out. You want things to fail during these incident response tests, because that is how we learn,” he explained.

“Bringing in these outside firms, detailing what they learned and defining roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident is really the best practice, and we are seeing more and more companies do that.”

Support from the Board

Good cyber protection is built around a combination of process, technology, learning and people. While not every cyber incident needs to be reported to the boardroom, senior management has a key role in creating a culture of planning and risk awareness.

David Legassick, head of life sciences, tech and cyber, CNA Hardy

“Cyber is a boardroom risk. If it is not taken seriously at boardroom level, you are more than likely to suffer a network breach,” Legassick said.

However, getting board buy-in or buy-in from the C-suite is not always easy.

“C-suite executives often put off testing crisis plans as they get in the way of the day job. The irony here is obvious given how disruptive an incident can be,” said Sanchez.

“The C-suite must demonstrate its support for incident response planning and that it expects staff at all levels of the organization to play their part in recovering from serious incidents.”

“What these people need from the board is support,” said Jill Salmon, New York-based vice president, head of cyber/tech/MPL, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance.

“I don’t know that the information security folks are looking for direction from the board as much as they are looking for support from a resources standpoint and a visibility standpoint.

“They’ve got to be aware of what they need and they need to have the money to be able to build it up to that level,” she said.

Without that support, according to Legassick, failure to empower and encourage the IT team to manage cyber threats holistically through integration with the rest of the organization, particularly risk managers, becomes a common mistake.

He also warned that “blame culture” can prevent staff from escalating problems to management in a timely manner.

Collaboration and Communication

Given that cyber incident response truly is a team effort, it is therefore essential that a culture of collaboration, preparation and practice is embedded from the top down.

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One of the biggest tripping points for companies — and an area that has done the most damage from a reputational perspective — is in how quickly and effectively the company communicates to the public in the aftermath of a cyber event.

Salmon said of all the cyber incident response plans she has seen, the companies that have impressed her most are those that have written mock press releases and rehearsed how they are going to respond to the media in the aftermath of an event.

“We have seen so many companies trip up in that regard,” she said. “There have been examples of companies taking too long and then not explaining why it took them so long. It’s like any other crisis — the way that you are communicating it to the public is really important.” &

Antony Ireland is a London-based financial journalist. He can be reached at [email protected] Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]