Risk Insider: Marilyn Rivers

Enforcing Safety Rules in Summer is Challenging

By: | July 22, 2016 • 2 min read
Marilyn Rivers is director of risk and safety for the City of Saratoga Springs. She chairs the PRIMA Institute for the Public Risk Management Association and is chairperson of the RIMS Standards and Practice Council. She was named Public Risk Manager of the Year by PRIMA in 2007. She can be reached at [email protected]

Summer is the “high season” for construction and maintenance. It’s time to pave our roadways, stripe them, install crosswalks, pour sidewalks and take a stringent approach to building and property maintenance.

Inevitably, public risk professionals deal with public works departments who choose to go it alone to “get the job done.” More often than not, risk managers hear the complaints of limited funding and resources, and of a lack of understanding by risk professionals that corners have to be cut wherever possible in order to meet deadlines.

I’m particularly fond of the hot sultry days that are perfect for roof repair. We all get that priceless phone call from the community called “Man on the Roof.”

The phone rings and a lady on the phone commends me for the bare-shirted muscular employee on a city building roof enjoying the sun. “Dear … your employee is in fantastic shape and lovely to look at, but shouldn’t you be out there reminding him to wear his safety gear?”

Risk professionals need to personalize their safety message to a level of understanding that each employee can rationalize, understand and make part of their persona.

“Yes, Madam. Might you tell me the location of my employee?”

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As you get to the job site you find your employee shirtless, barefooted, in shorts and sitting on the edge of the roof’s eves … throwing OSHA to the wind and every other safety talk you ever gave.

Patience is a virtue … sometimes.

Paving you ask? Shorts, T-shirts wrapped around heads and not a safety vest in sight … they’re too hot in the summer and interfere with tan lines as a matter of practicality, we are told.

And those “flags and signs” you recently purchased to inform the public to be wary, to keep a distance and to stay out of the construction zone? They are often considered trivial because they are too difficult to remember on a hot summer day.

As safety professionals, we all strive to promote and enforce lifesaving “Rules of the Road” before, during and after our projects. Our law enforcement folks try and intercede when they pass by or receive complaints when we can’t get there fast enough.

A poignant and effective sign promoted by the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse I often see in roadwork is Slow Down – My Mommy (Daddy) Works Here. It serves a reminder to the general public and more importantly our public works professionals that their lives are important.

You’ll note, I’ve identified folks as “public works professionals.” It’s an argument I often have with employees who are out on the road maintaining highways, fixing buildings and improving infrastructure.

I advocate respect and a recognition that public works is difficult work. It’s often dirty and messy and well, it’s work that requires perseverance in the worst of weather when we need them the most.

Safety is personal because it belongs not only to the employee, but to their partners, spouses, extended families and their dogs and … even their tarantulas.

Risk professionals need to personalize their safety message to a level of understanding that each employee can rationalize, understand and make part of their persona.

Safety needs to be a language unto itself that is universally accepted as the norm.

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Protest Insurance

Cleveland Insures Against Protesters

The city quintupled its initial policy coverage to $50 million for the GOP Convention.
By: | July 12, 2016 • 2 min read
Downtown Cleveland Ohio rises above the Cuyahoga River at Heritage Park in morning light

The City of Cleveland will pay $9.5 million to purchase $50 million of protest insurance coverage ahead of the four-day Republican National Convention that begins July 18.

The city quintupled its original proposed coverage amount, which would have had the city pay $1.5 million for a $10 million policy.

“The $1.5 million for $10 million coverage was always just a placeholder,” City spokesman Dan Williams told Risk & Insurance®. “We felt it was the best level of coverage for what we needed.”

Protest insurance coverage is required for any event that has been deemed by the U.S. Secret Service as a “National Special Security Event.”

The protest policy is liability insurance that includes incident insurance to cover potential lawsuits, private property insurance to cover any damage to property, and vehicles and equipment insurance to cover others coming to the convention with their own vehicles and equipment, Williams wrote.

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The policy is required for any event that has been deemed by the U.S. Secret Service as a “National Special Security Event,” which also includes the Democratic National Convention, visits by the Catholic pope and G8 summits, among other events.

The city’s Board of Control increased the insurance coverage on the recommendation of its broker, Aon Risk Services Northeast, which polled 40 insurance providers, according to Sharon Dumas, the city’s finance director.

“They analyzed the national trend of conflicts and the risks associated with the convention, and we concurred,” Dumas said to Cleveland.com.

The Secret Service, FBI, Cleveland and Ohio State Police, the National Guard, and thousands of police officers from around the country will work together over the course of the week to ensure peaceful demonstrations — both for and against Trump, according to reports.

The groups scheduled to travel to Cleveland for the convention include anti-Trump demonstrators, a white nationalist group and the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church.

Calvin Williams, police chief, City of Cleveland

Calvin Williams, police chief, City of Cleveland

Preparing for potentially violent demonstrations, the city’s police department has partnered with law enforcement agencies throughout the country “to ensure that we have an adequate number of law enforcement officers to staff the needs of the convention,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams wrote on the department’s website as well as its Facebook page. \

However, after shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge led to the deaths of eight officers, some law enforcement agencies have rescinded offers to send officers to help at the convention.

But Williams remains confident. “Our officers have trained with many partnering agencies at the local, state and federal level to ensure that the highest safety standards are maintained,” he wrote.

“Throughout the course of planning for the RNC, our officers have undergone hours of training relative to many subjects. Although not all training can be discussed or demonstrated as law enforcement tactics are sensitive, the training has been both comprehensive and valuable.”

However, he did say the department purchased 300 bicycles outfitted specifically for “law enforcement purposes,” to be used by police officers who became certified riders after training through the Law Enforcement Bicycle Association.

Williams ended his letter on an optimistic note: “This is an exciting time for our great city. This is an historic event and we are not likely to see anything like this within the footprint of Cleveland again soon. I am looking forward to a safe event and I thank you for your support.”

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in California. She has more than two decades of journalism experience and expertise in financial writing. She can be reached at [email protected]
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Sponsored Content by Chubb

Electronic Waste Risks Piling Up

As new electronic devices replace older ones, electronic waste is piling up. Proper e-waste disposal poses complex environmental, regulatory and reputational challenges for risk managers.
By: | July 5, 2016 • 4 min read
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The latest electronic devices today may be obsolete by tomorrow. Outdated electronics pose a rapidly growing problem for risk managers. Telecommunications equipment, computers, printers, copiers, mobile devices and other electronics often contain toxic metals such as mercury and lead. Improper disposal of this electronic waste not only harms the environment, it can lead to heavy fines and reputation-damaging publicity.

Federal and state regulators are increasingly concerned about e-waste. Settlements in improper disposal cases have reached into the millions of dollars. Fines aren’t the only risk. Sensitive data inadvertently left on discarded equipment can lead to data breaches.

To avoid potentially serious claims and legal action, risk managers need to understand the risks of e-waste and to develop a strategy for recycling and disposal that complies with local, state and federal regulations.

The Risks Are Rising

E-waste has been piling up at a rate that’s two to three times faster than any other waste stream, according to U.S Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Any product that contains electronic circuitry can eventually become e-waste, and the range of products with embedded electronics grows every day. Because of the toxic materials involved, special care must be taken in disposing of unwanted equipment. Broken devices can leach hazardous materials into the ground and water, creating health risks on the site and neighboring properties.

Despite the environmental dangers, much of our outdated electronics still end up in landfills. Only about 40 percent of consumer electronics were recycled in 2013, according to the EPA. Yet for every million cellphones that are recycled, the EPA estimates that about 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

While consumers may bring unwanted electronics to local collection sites, corporations must comply with stringent guidelines. The waste must be disposed of properly using vendors with the requisite expertise, certifications and permits. The risk doesn’t end when e-waste is turned over to a disposal vendor. Liabilities for contamination can extend back from the disposal site to the company that discarded the equipment.

Reuse and Recycle

To cut down on e-waste, more companies are seeking to adapt older equipment for reuse. New products feature designs that make it easier to recycle materials and to remove heavy metals for reuse. These strategies conserve valuable resources, reduce the amount of waste and lessen the amount of new equipment that must be purchased.

Effective risk management should focus on minimizing waste, reusing and recycling electronics, managing disposal and complying with regulations at all levels.

For equipment that cannot be reused, companies should work with a disposal vendor that can make sure that their data is protected and that all the applicable environmental regulations are met. Vendors should present evidence of the required permits and certifications. Companies seeking disposal vendors may want to look for two voluntary certifications: the Responsible Recycling (R2) Standard, and the e-Stewards certification.

The U.S. EPA also provides guidance and technical support for firms seeking to implement best practices for e-waste. Under EPA rules for the disposal of items such as batteries, mercury-containing equipment and lamps, e-waste waste typically falls under the category of “universal waste.”

About half the states have enacted their own e-waste laws, and companies that do business in multiple states may have to comply with varying regulations that cover a wider list of materials. Some materials may require handling as hazardous waste according to federal, state and local requirements. U.S. businesses may also be subject to international treaties.

Developing E-Waste Strategies

Companies of all sizes and in all industries should implement e-waste strategies. Effective risk management should focus on minimizing waste, reusing and recycling electronics, managing disposal and complying with regulations at all levels. That’s a complex task that requires understanding which laws and treaties apply to a particular type of waste, keeping proper records and meeting permitting requirements. As part of their insurance program, companies may want to work with an insurer that offers auditing, training and other risk management services tailored for e-waste.

Insurance is an essential part of e-waste risk management. Premises pollution liability policies can provide coverage for environmental risks on a particular site, including remediation when necessary, as well as for exposures arising from transportation of e-waste and disposal at third-party sites. Companies may want to consider policies that provide coverage for their entire business operations, whether on their own premises or at third-party locations. Firms involved in e-waste management may want to consider contractor’s pollution liability coverage for environmental risks at project sites owned by other entities.

The growing challenges of managing e-waste are not only financial but also reputational. Companies that operate in a sustainable manner lower the risks of pollution and associated liabilities, avoid negative publicity stemming from missteps, while building reputations as responsible environmental stewards. Effective electronic waste management strategies help to protect the environment and the company.

This article is an annotated version of the new Chubb advisory, “Electronic Waste: Managing the Environmental and Regulatory Challenges.” To learn more about how to manage and prioritize e-waste risks, download the full advisory on the Chubb website.

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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 Chubb. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




With operations in 54 countries, Chubb provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients.
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