Column: Risk Management

Opinion: Resist an Evacuation Order? Cover the Costs

By: | October 12, 2017 • 2 min read

Joanna Makomaski is a specialist in innovative enterprise risk management methods and implementation techniques. She can be reached at [email protected]

We just recently witnessed historically large hurricanes and tropical storms. We also witnessed risk management at its best.

We saw in action brilliantly coordinated contingency plans and rescue operations. We saw mandatory evacuations, in several states in advance of the hurricanes, executed with consideration, dignity and respect. We saw the majority of residents prudently obeying evacuation orders to seek safe shelter — despite a few individuals who chose to resist.

Mandatory evacuations are used by emergency management officials to not only save the lives of inhabitants but also the lives of first responders.

But if one disobeys an order that is said to be mandatory, what kind of teeth does the word “mandatory” hold? What are the implications if you disobey such an order? What does it mean legally? Are there consequences attached to such defiance?

Each state has the statutory authority to implement emergency protocols during a disaster, including suspending some fundamental rights to enforce a mandatory evacuation.

It is my understanding that officials are not likely to ever arrest masses of people who disregard a mandatory evacuation order. But that said, these vigilantes ought to be prepared to be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours after the hurricane: surviving with no electricity, water, internet, phone, and — most importantly — no emergency response service of any kind.


Even faced with this dire possibility, we still see brave souls risk their lives to extract stranded and defiant individuals. It is at this point I ask: When does the duty of emergency responders to assure public safety outweigh a person’s liberty to refuse evacuation? Should officials push harder to ensure a full evacuation?

Each state has the statutory authority to implement emergency protocols during a disaster, including suspending some fundamental rights to enforce a mandatory evacuation.

The police have long been known to have the obligation to secure the public welfare including during an emergency. That’s no different than the widely accepted authority of a fire chief who can order the evacuation of a building.

Legally, resisting an evacuation order in certain states is a criminal offense. The police have the power to seize you and forcefully evacuate you. But this is reluctantly done. In the past, incredibly, officials have been sued for wrongful imprisonment, false arrest and civil rights infringement.

One wonders, are these people in denial? Do they have insider information on the storm? Or do they just think they’re luckier than the rest?

In any case, what should be done with them? It appears not much more can be done or should be done. In these instances, the safety of the responders has to override the life of any resisting individual.

In some states, they hit you in the pocketbook, making you liable for all emergency rescue costs if needed later. If you choose to stay, I think it’s only fair you pay.

I guess this adage holds true: “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” — W. Edwards Deming. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]