Conducting internal audits isn’t typically an activity that any organization looks forward to. First of all, internal auditing takes time—something neither risk and safety departments nor supervisors and employees “on the ground” have in abundance. Internal audits also come with the headaches of coordinating the efforts of multiple departments and people at far-flung locations.
And when all of the hard work of gathering completed audit forms is done, data must be consolidated in a format that—fingers-crossed—will prove useful in determining the actions that will result in measurable change. It leaves one to ask, “Is it worth the effort?”
Internal audit benefits
Despite the challenges, there is much to gain from internal audits that are both well-planned and conducted on a regular basis. The benefits include the following:
- Internal audits help to prevent accidents/errors by uncovering hazards/potential risks that might, otherwise, not be known (until it’s too late).
- For supervisors and employees, internal audits promote accountability, improve awareness of defined procedures, and enforce safe workplace behavior.
- Internal audits help to prepare all involved in the process for external audits that may carry penalties or fines.
Vendor management is becoming an area of increased focus for risk managers. The operational, financial, and regulatory risks third-party vendors and contractors pose to an organization continue to expand unabated. Despite the magnitude of the threat posed from lax vendor management programs, many risk managers do not feel their organizations have the technology and capabilities in place to properly face the challenge.
A Deloitte study notes that 94% of responding executives have only low to moderate levels of confidence in the tools and technology they use to manage third-party risk. Nearly 90% have similar lack of confidence in the quality of the underlying risk management process. Armed with dubious solutions and processes, risk managers fighting for effective vendor management assessment may find it an uphill battle.
The status quo may not hold
Recent New York Times coverage of the dire supply chain effects Hurricane Maria had on the availability of critical prescriptions in the U.S. illustrates how quickly vendor management issues can escalate. The article notes, “Federal officials and major drugmakers are scrambling to prevent national shortages of critical drugs for treating cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as medical devices and supplies, that are manufactured at 80 plants in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.”
“A workers’ compensation adjuster is not a paper pusher.” That’s one of “60 Tips for Superior Claims Handling” issued as part of a panel discussion held at a past National Workers’ Compensation & Disability Conference. “Work comp claims are more difficult than general liability claims. If you think of them as a paper pusher, that’s the output you’ll receive.”
Numerous articles make clear the impact of adjusters’ experience, skills, and judgment on claims outcomes (For example, see “Good Adjusters Know When to Settle Your Workers Comp Claims.”) Nonetheless, as indicated by the fact that panelists felt it necessary to make the point that adjusters are far more than back-office clerks, the misperception persists.
Regardless of industry, the numbers make clear why a focus on fleet safety is necessary.
- According to the National Safety Council, medically consulted injuries in motor vehicle incidents totaled 4.6 million in 2016.
- Total motor vehicle injury costs—including wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor-vehicle property damage, and employer costs—for the year were estimated at $416.2 billion.
- NCCI data shows that, by cause of injury, motor vehicle crashes resulted in the costliest lost-time workers’ compensation claims, averaging $73,559 per claim in 2015 and 2016.
For public entities, when it comes to managing the risks associated with fleets, these numbers are especially concerning. “Fleets are a serious and growing risk management challenge for public entities,” writes Susan Kostro in the Risk Management magazine article Managing Public Sector Auto Risks. “The public sector collectively has the largest vehicle fleet in the United States. With 1.3 million cars and trucks, that sector is even larger than the commercial fleet segment, according to Government Fleet magazine, so the challenges of commercial auto insurance have been particularly hard on public entities.”
Risk management information system (RMIS) solutions have come a long way in the three decades since their introduction. As they improve, Michelle Kerr reports in a Risk & Insurance article, “[T]he way risk managers use them — and the way they influence the practice of risk management — continues to evolve.” This evolution has led many to rethink their concept of what the systems can do. “They’re looking at the broader picture of how RMIS can be used to transform their organizations,” Kerr notes.
Increased flexibility and the extended capabilities of cloud-based RMIS solutions are now expanding into areas far removed from typical risk management. The ability to quickly create challenge-solving solutions that leverage the power of a highly configurable RMIS can allow all parts of an organization to innovate. In the Kerr article, Brian Van Allsburg, vice president risk management with Compass Group puts it this way, “The question really — the sky’s the limit — what can we do with this system that would make us unique?”