Risk Insider: Paula Vene Smith

The Risk Register: Dead or Alive?

By: | July 27, 2016 • 2 min read
Paula Vene Smith directs the Purposeful Risk Engagement Project (PREP) and is a professor at Grinnell College. Paula consults on risk in higher education, and has written Engaging Risk: A Guide for College Leaders. She can be reached at [email protected]

If your organization practices Enterprise Risk Management, senior leaders probably have endorsed a list of top risks that demand action.

Once ERM is in place, the list undergoes review — maybe annually. After a few cycles it’s time to ask: Are we practicing risk management or list management? A risk register can either drive change, or persist as a lifeless spreadsheet.

Use these questions to test the vitality of your institutional list:

How long is your register, and how often does it change?

In my research on higher education risk management, I spoke with leaders at small to mid-sized colleges. Institutions with lengthy risk registers (50-80 items) didn’t see much change from year to year.

Their annual review consists of “checking in” to make sure people are working on their risks. Organizations with shorter lists (5-15 items) saw higher turnover. They acknowledge progress, shift gears and set new goals.

Have entire areas been overlooked?

For the initial risk assessment at Grinnell College, we brought in consultants. They interviewed senior leaders and staff to identify risks.

The purpose of a risk register is to drive action. A short, dynamic list serves this purpose better than a compendium that makes people feel they’re chipping away at something so massive that no amount of effort can make a difference.

Remarkably, the “top seven” list they produced did not include risks related to student life. Later, it emerged that the person then serving as vice president of student affairs had such a confident attitude, he convinced the consultants there were no risks in his area that he couldn’t handle.

Reviewing the register internally, we agreed that student risks had to be recognized.

Does one item encompass several distinct risks?

Risk identification often starts with concerns about a broad area. When, for example, we resolved to add something about students, the initial risk description was wordy and cumbersome. By the next cycle, we recognized multiple risks: substance abuse, mental health services, Title IX processes and improved student retention. Separating these items helped us develop mitigation strategies.

What happens to a risk that drops off the list?

Some of the risk leaders I interviewed found no need to drop risks from the register. They pointed out that no significant risk is ever completely mitigated. Nonetheless, we refresh our “top 10” periodically. Once significant mitigation is in place, the item can move off — but we’ll continue to monitor progress. If the risk remains well managed, we check in more briefly and less frequently.

Can risks come off the list too soon?

In the first year we worked hard on developing a policy to protect minors. It felt great to remove that item from the register. But we still needed to conduct training, step up background checks, and assist program directors.

Should we have kept “minors on campus” on the register for another year? The time invested was not so different from that spent on top-priority items. Still, no harm was done by renaming this work as “monitoring.”

The purpose of a risk register is to drive action. A short, dynamic list serves this purpose better than a compendium that makes people feel they’re chipping away at something so massive that no amount of effort can make a difference.

Share this article:

Risk Insider: Jack Hampton

The Cutting Edge of Health Care Reform

By: | July 26, 2016 • 3 min read
Jack Hampton is a Professor of Business at St. Peter’s University in New Jersey and a former Executive Director of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS). He was named a Risk Innovator in 2008 by Risk and Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

The Land of Lincoln health care exchange just announced it is closing as a result of big financial losses. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is podiatry.

The closing after three money-losing years is bad news for Illinois joggers. They need periodic visits to the podiatrist to treat abused toenails and painful calluses.

So why should those who don’t live in Illinois, or even jog, care? Let me explain.

Health care tries to balance the cost and benefits of service with care and understanding for the emotional needs of the patient. By and large, it does a great job.

The problem is a mismatch between the backgrounds of the people who provide service and the services needed. Routine treatments do not rise to the level of disorders. Annual physicals are not complicated.

We need a better system for routine and preventative health care. We are getting it, but too slowly.

An over-reliance on testing and high-priced technology is one reason exchanges are going out of business. Here is another:

Dennis D’onofrio, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, has an office in Torrington, CT. He did post graduate work at Yale and residency at a VA hospital.

He has two board certifications and three hospital affiliations. His achievements verify his prowess with corns, calluses and ingrown toenails.

Does Dr. Dennis, with all his expensive learning, have to perform at this level of medical intervention? Pedicurists, often lacking a high school degree, can treat feet in storefront salons.

Imagine Dr. D’onofrio, board certified and all, sanding down a big toe. Could a lesser-trained health care professional perform many of his daily tasks?

The mismatch between medical treatment needed and qualifications of the provider drives up the cost of health care and creates shortages of medical services.

We need a better system for routine and preventative health care. We are getting it, but too slowly.

If we do not accelerate the process, the cost of health care may bury both medical providers and federal efforts to subsidize services for the needy and disadvantaged.

Question for the Illinois Department of Insurance. Can we find capable people and train and certify them to perform routine and preventative medical service?

Would this lower the cost of health care and could it have kept the Land of Lincoln cooperative viable doing what it does at a cost people and the government can afford?

We know the answer. Medical providers are doing it already. Nurses perform procedures once in the realm of doctors.

We are training medical assistants in areas as varied as family medicine, geriatrics, internal medicine, pediatrics, oncology, and cardiology. We need to accelerate the authorization for them to do more before financial pressure collapses the current system.

Concluding thoughts. I wonder if Dr. D’onofrio has student loans from his medical school days. Perhaps a leased Mercedes with monthly payments. A vacation home in the Caribbean.

We would not want this dialogue to hurt him. The man is a magician when it comes to treating minor foot pain.

Share this article:

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
Chubb_SponsoredContent

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.

SponsoredContent

BrandStudioLogo

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.
Share this article: