Risk Insider: George Browne

Planning for the Unexpected

By: | December 20, 2016 • 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 emergency, do you think of a fire, chemical spill, medical incident or other type of emergency that might occur at your facility? Or, possibly even a large event that occurred at a nearby location?

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Emergencies occur every day, and some of those emergencies are large, and rare, events. Many more small emergencies occur every day, and you often do not hear about them.

Yet every emergency shares certain common features that allows us to prepare for such incidents. Those common factors can be used whether the event is small (i.e. the loss of heat in your facility on a very cold day) or large (i.e. a multiple alarm fire in your building). That said, let’s expand upon that idea.

Consider whether or not your facility has some unique features that may require you to meet with the local first responders and create a written, pre-incident plan.

First things first – you need a strategic plan; simple and easy to use. The foundation for the plan is built upon three basic priorities: life safety, incident stabilization, and property conservation. The order of importance of these priorities never changes, even if you can simultaneously work on all three priorities at once.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these priorities:

  1. Life safety – refers to the protection of people who may be victims, spectators, or emergency responders.
  2. Incident stabilization – aims to contain the incident to keep it from growing larger than what is needed to control the emergency.
  3. Property conservation – entails identifying the most valuable property at your facility and protecting it from damage or any additional damage.

Secondly, you need to accept three basic truths about emergencies and the action plan you develop from your strategic plan.

  1. Protect your people – this is life safety 101, but it needs to be reiterated here so that you include it in your action plan during an emergency.
  2. Make sure everyone knows who is in charge. Your plan should spell out who manages the emergency from the initial stages until it is resolved. This is not the name of a person, but the functional title of the emergency responders, and includes both on-site and off-site responders.
  3. Call for professional help early. The fire service has a saying, “The first five minutes are more important than the next five hours.” Get enough help to the emergency early on to prevent playing catch-up.

Third, be conscience of the fact that local emergency service organizations have limited knowledge of your facility, regardless of how often they may be there.

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Consider whether or not your facility has some unique features that may require you to meet with the local first responders and create a written, pre-incident plan. This effort helps to provide realistic expectations for everyone involved. More importantly, it can also provide accurate information that allows for good decision-making during an emergency.

Responding to emergencies is not always easy, but all emergencies can be managed. A small event may only require calling for the paramedics, while a larger event may require the evacuation of your facility and watching, from a distance, as the incident is handled by professional emergency responders.

Efficient and profitable businesses develop plans to improve the efficiency of critical functions in order to improve profitability. Why should an emergency, especially one that may have the potential to destroy your business, receive any less attention and preparation?

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.

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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.

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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]