Risk Management Planning

Prioritizing the Four Universal Pool Rules

January 17, 2012

Matthew D. Griffith, M.S., RCRSP
Georgia Institute of Technology

It is well-known that educating guests is vital to their safety and an important component of a risk management plan. What isn’t as clear for many facility operators is what the most important information to get across is. It is not atypical for swimmers to be overwhelmed with signage listing a dozen or more pool rules when visiting an aquatic facility. This is unfortunate because most people only spend a few seconds reading signs. The result is poor communication of potentially important information. Therefore, pool rules and regulations should be placed into one of three categories: MUST know, SHOULD know, and NICE to know information. The information guests MUST know is information which could lead to catastrophic injury or death.

Within this category, there are four warnings that apply universally to almost all aquatic facilities. These are the four most important warnings to sign and enforce because if left unaddressed, they can lead to catastrophic accidents resulting in death or paralysis.

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Evidence-Based Risk Management: Changing the Zeitgeist

January 17, 2012

Matthew D. Griffith, M.S., RCRSP
Georgia Institute of Technology

In the past two decades, a new way of thinking has taken over the practice of medicine. The central premise is that decisions in medical care should be based on the latest and best scientific knowledge. Dr. David Sackett and colleagues define evidence-based medicine as “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients” (1996). The movement has now grown into a storm of physicians committed to conducting, disseminating, and applying valid and reliable research to clinical care.

If you found yourself thinking “what else besides evidence would guide my doctor’s decisions?” then you are naïve about how humans generally make decisions. Although there are thousands of medical studies conducted each year, physicians don’t use much of it. In How Doctors Think, Dr. Jerome Groopman references research that show only about 15% of physician’s decisions are based on sound evidence (2008). Instead of evidence, doctors more often rely on obsolete knowledge gained in medical school, long-standing but never proven traditions, patterns gathered from experience, methods they are most skilled in applying, and information from vendors with products to sell.

Unfortunately, the same behavior holds true for risk managers in recreation and sport. In fact, it could be argued, that risk managers are far more ignorant than doctors about which prescriptions are reliable–and less willing to find out. It’s time to move the zeitgeist away from making decisions based on ideology and unsystematic experience toward those based on the best available evidence.

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Managing Risk in Club Sports Events

November 23, 2011

Kate Durant
Club Sports Program Coordinator
Student Activities
University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut has made it a requirement for student organizations planning special events, and Club Sports organizations to have risk management pre-planning meetings. This initiative was brought forth by our department ‘Risk Management Committee’ and through conversations with the university risk manager. Student Clubs’ events were getting bigger and more organized and students were coming forth to their advisors with more questions.

In these planning meetings with student officers, we define ‘Risk’ as an activity or event that can be a hazard or source of danger; something that may ultimately affect the outcome of their event. We talk about how Risk Management is the process of considering the potential and perceived risks involved in student organizations. It includes monitoring organization activities and taking both corrective action and proactive steps to minimize accidental injury and/or loss. We encourage Clubs to play out possible situations and discuss what controls can be taken to avoid or manage those risks at their events.
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Managing the Risks of Special Events

November 23, 2011

A New Online Course

Joe Risser CPCU, ARM-P
Risk Management Design
San Luis Obispo

Over the past few years, Special Events have transformed into a big issue for many Campus Recreation Administrators. Due to budget challenges, more and more departments are capitalizing on the potential to lease their multiple and diverse facilities – by renting to outside groups and/or staging or hosting their own events. This expansion in operations has been accompanied by the realization that running a large concert in the gym is quite different from organizing the Intramural Basketball Championship game!

Events can be ‘special’ based upon the content, participants, sponsors, venue, funding or other factors. These events may involve renting multiple fields to the city for a soccer tournament, hosting the University Graduation Ceremonies in the fieldhouse, or running a large fundraising dance in the arena. Special events are often beyond the scope of the University’s “day-to-day” activities, requiring exceptional efforts and resources. Critical to the management of events and the risks involved is ownership of the event and/or the venue.

Impacts on the normal operations of the Campus Recreation department, the outside community, and immediate ‘neighbors’ may be significant (or benign) and range from cancellation of gym space displacing regular user groups (e.g. Intramurals), to issues such as overflow parking onto neighborhood streets, amplified sound during outdoor events, and maybe even a surprise fireworks finale.

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The Uncertainty Factor in Risk Management

November 23, 2011

Kneejerk Reactions Do More Harm Than Good

Matthew D. Griffith, M.S., RCRSP
Georgia Institute of Technology

Hearing the words “high dive” evokes strong memories and great stories from many adults. It was almost a right-of-passage at the local pool. Unfortunately, there are not many 3-meter diving boards left in North America, and today’s kids will not have that terrorizing, yet exhilarating experience of their first jump from ten feet. The removal of diving boards is indicative of a spreading and disturbing phenomenon in risk management, the unsubstantiated elimination of programs and activities resulting from kneejerk reactions and poor analysis.

To be an effective risk manager, it is necessary to have an appropriate working definition of risk. The problem is that there is no agreed upon definition of risk, in fact, a quick internet search produced at least 25 different definitions. While realizing that risk does indeed have different meanings in different applications and industries, a good general definition for use in recreational risk management is the probability of a hazard to lead to a loss. It is critical to understand that “risk” is the probability, which can be measured and quantified.

In addition to understanding the definition of risk, a thorough understanding of the difference between risk and uncertainty is important to a risk manager’s success. Uncertainty is not the same as risk, it is inherently immeasurable. With risk, the odds are known, or at the least, there is information and data that can be used to quantify it. This is the case with the lottery, although someone who buys a Mega Millions ticket may not know the odds of winning, it can be calculated using available information. With uncertainty though, the odds, by definition, cannot be known. Differentiating between risk and uncertainty underscores the many challenging decisions a risk manager must make.

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Nuts and Bolts Liability

November 21, 2011

How to Know When You Need to Call a Lawyer!

Shelley Timms, B.A., LL.B., LL.M.
Timshel Services Inc.
Alcohol Risk Management
Timshel@timshelservices.com

Liability issues are faced by everyone. It does seem that there are more lawsuits and more ways to be sued but some of the risks have not changed. For the Student Union Manager, there will always be students, some considered to be ‘children’ in the eyes of the law; there will always be those who want to take risks; and there will always be alcohol (and drugs).

The following is a primer on some of the basics to keep in mind when planning activities with the Student Union (SU) Board and running the Union.

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