Public entity risk managers looking to further reduce the costs associated with workers’ compensation claims continue to recognize the value of a behavior-based risk and safety management model. According to Public Entity Risk Managers Speak Out: Results of the 2017 Public Entity Employee Safety & Loss Control Survey, “Now more than ever, the best strategy is to take a holistic approach to risk management to prevent claims from occurring in the first place with loss control strategies.”
The development and implementation of a pre-loss model that measurably drives accident reduction and workplace safety requires effective collaboration between risk management and safety teams. Transparency and the sharing of information is essential to success. Both can be severely restricted when using spreadsheets or outdated legacy software.
Overcoming the challenge of departmental silos
An article in Public Risk, Striving for Excellence: Five Steps for Strengthening Collaboration Between Risk Management and Safety, provides some best practices for fostering a close partnership between two functions that have traditionally been separated by “different reporting structures, data requirements, and time horizons for achieving objectives, as well as a lack of internal structure to facilitate collaboration.”
Backed by some “real world” examples, these best practices include getting buy-in from senior leadership, developing formalized safety processes, and establishing a consistent habit of meeting to examine trends and ensure clarity around shared responsibilities.
The piece also speaks to the importance of information sharing and the promotion of transparency in the relationship between risk management and safety teams. While making it clear that technology is by no means a substitute for direct, interpersonal interaction between the teams, “the information captured, documented and shared via technology can set the agenda for those face-to-face collaborative opportunities.”
Using RMIS technology to facilitate change and evaluate outcomes
The ability of risk and safety departments to share accurate, up-to-date information is limited when claims and safety data is spread across multiple spreadsheets, or stored on unconnected software platforms. Centralization of data is essential. However, simply pulling together data in a single system isn’t enough.
A holistic approach requires an adaptable RMIS platform that is capable of serving as a tool for facilitating communication and measuring risk- and safety-related performance. Risk managers and safety professionals also need the ability to collect data, track safety trainings, and report on the effectiveness of safety and loss prevention strategies. Given the diversity of roles in a public sector institution, the system must also be flexible enough to be adapt to unique user needs and workflows.
Tools available to users of Origami Risk’s highly-adaptable, cloud-based RMIS include the following:
Incident reporting and root cause analysis capabilities allow employees to document incidents and near misses using job/role-specific forms. This gives risk and safety teams a view of daily operations, as well as the information needed to investigate injuries and determine root causes. The option to submit incidents using an online portal or mobile device increases the likelihood of employees entering details immediately and with more accurate detail.
Safety inspection and audit functionality can be used to improve workplace safety by promoting accountability among managers/supervisors and reinforcing the safe workplace behavior of employees. For example, based on overall results or answers to specific questions on a safety investigation, corrective actions can be generated and assigned.
Analysis and reporting allows members of the risk and safety teams to make reactive changes based on specific losses or broader trends, as well as to implement strategic, proactive changes–for example, adjustments in training, equipment replacement, or process refinements–that contribute to the prevention of future injuries.
Training and certification tracking provides a comprehensive, customizable solution for ensuring safety training compliance. Risk and safety team members can easily set up an unlimited number of trainings, specifying if each is mandatory or simply recommended. Training and certifications can be designated as one-time-only or be entered with an expiration date to indicate when retaking/renewal is required.
Doing it all, with less
Public entity risk managers continue to be asked to do more, with less. In fact, more than half of the respondents (representing public entities in 39 states) to the survey referenced at the outset of this post indicated that their safety programs were underfunded (41%) or significantly underfunded (13%). How might investment in RMIS technology be justified in light of those numbers?
Workflow automation contributes to improved efficiencies, reducing the administrative overhead (and costs) that are inherently part of manual risk- and safety-related processes. For example, as a follow up to the automated assignment of corrective actions, triggers can be set to automatically alert users of upcoming due dates of outstanding items, thus eliminating the need to follow up.
Streamlined communication is made possible by using email templates, created and stored in the system, for risk- and safety-related emails. Messages sent to and from Origami Risk are logged by incident, claim, location, or policy, making it easy to find communications that would otherwise lay buried in email inboxes.
RMIS technology can play a critical role in improving the ability of public entity risk managers and safety professionals to gather, analyze, and report on the effectiveness of loss control and safety data. The ability to automate many of these processes to increase efficiency, reduce wasted effort, and streamline communication can further contribute to success–even as the responsibilities of risk managers grows and the size of risk management departments decreases.