Risk Management Planning

Risk Management in Running Race Events

July 17, 2011

Katie Helms
Assistant Director, Intramural/Recreational Sports
University of Arkansas

Road and trail racing events have surged in number and participation in the last few decades, and their popularity is certainly understandable. Running and walking are easily accessible forms of exercise, and race events provide structured opportunities to test performance goals, interact with other enthusiasts, and celebrate physical accomplishment. Races are great components of campus recreation programs, either as stand-alone events or in coordination with other program efforts such as homecomings or campus health initiatives.

Despite the appropriateness of road racing within campus recreation programs, many program managers find the task of administering a race event to be daunting. Dramatic incidents and deaths in several high-profile race events have understandably contributed to misgivings regarding the safety of such events as well as reluctance in undertaking their administration. While race administration entails some specific risk management considerations, race directors can ensure that their race is as safe and well-managed as possible by utilizing some basic risk management principles.

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Risk Management Issues facing Campus Recreation Directors

July 17, 2011

How risks have changed in the past 10 years

Kathleen Hatch
Executive Director of University Recreation & Wellbeing, WSU
Mick Deluca
Director, Department of Cultural and Recreational Affairs , UCLA

Kathleen Hatch (Washington State University) and Mick DeLuca (UCLA) are two well know and respected Campus Recreation Directors within the NIRSA family. They graciously agreed to be ‘interviewed’ by Ian McGregor to share their insights on the topic of Risk Management – from a department-wide perspective. To provide a framework for the interview, the following list of questions were circulated prior to the session.

  1. From a Risk Management perspective, what are the key risk areas impacting Campus Recreation Directors today? How does this differ from 10 years ago? How would you priority rank a list of these major issues?
  2. Explain in detail what some of these specific risks look like; how these risks impact your department and the steps you’ve taken to mitigate the risks.
  3. How is Risk Management coordinated within your department? Describe the role of the Risk Manager and the Risk Management Committee in your department.
  4. The importance of creating a risk ‘culture’ within the department.
  5. Can Campus Recreation become a risk management leader within the university setting?
  6. What advice would you provide to Directors who are struggling with these new risks?

The ensuing discussion quickly turned into a free-flowing exchange of ideas and experiences. The insights shared, together with the pragmatic and common sense advice given, should provide Directors with a realistic roadmap to follow as they try to navigate their way through the new wave of risk issues.

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Tips from the Trenches: Writing a Comprehensive Risk Management Manual

July 17, 2011

Kathy Rose
Facilities Director
Campus Recreation
University of Kentucky

When our Director decided that the University of Kentucky Campus Recreation Department would participate in the 2008 Risk Management Survey of SEC Schools , I was confident, almost to the point of smugness, that we’d score well. I knew that our Fitness, Aquatics, Intramural, and Outdoor Pursuits Directors all had solid risk management policies in place, and as the Facilities Director, I felt that risk management was one of my strongest areas. Needless to say, pride cometh before a fall, and the results of the survey ranked our department’s risk management plan as one of the lowest scoring among all the participating schools. So immediately following our initial shock, which was accompanied by the usual sulking and gnashing of teeth, we went to work to fix the problems.

One of our biggest deficiencies was the lack of a centralized plan that would drive our risk management policies and procedures within each area. Our initial step towards solving this problem was to form a Risk Management Committee that would oversee the Campus Recreation Department as a whole. The committee’s first daunting task was to write a risk management manual that would be general enough to be relevant to every area within our department, but that would also include specific policies and procedures needed for specialized programs. We assessed our current risk management practices and found that a few new policies needed to be incorporated into each area. But mostly we found ourselves working backwards, taking solid procedures from each area and using them to formulate a general policy. It was like having all the boards, bolts, screws, and knobs for your new TV/DVD entertainment center spread out on your living room floor, and then having to create your own instruction manual in order to put the pieces together.

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The Last Line of Defense: The Experience of Club Officers and Implications for Risk Management Practices

July 16, 2011

Benjamin B. Stubbs
Assistant Director, Programs
University of Tennessee

It is a beautiful evening on the river. The water is smooth under the rowing shell, the air is crisp, and the white clouds in the sky are starting to turn pink and orange. But Wallace isn’t admiring the sunset. Instead, he cranes his neck to see into the coach’s boat, trying to count the number of personal floatation devices. The other club members listen to the coxswain, focus on their form, and maybe think about how fun it is to row at night. Wallace, a junior in engineering and the Crew Club president, is thinking about safety.

When it comes to the risk associated with sport club activity, student officers are the last line of defense. Recreation managers devise policies that limit the risks inherent in club activity. And yet, club practices, travel, and social activities are often beyond the scrutiny of sport club administrators. Many risk management decisions and responsibilities are left to the student leaders. However, risk management is only one of the many responsibilities of sport club officers. Officers organize practices and events, communicate with members, staff, and other teams, complete paperwork, manage inventories, and more. Each of these responsibilities is influenced by their specific roles as club leaders, and by their attitudes about their club.

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Climbing Wall Risk Management: Part 1

July 15, 2011

Jason Kurten, M.S.
Outdoor Adventure Coordinator
Director of Indoor Climbing Facility
Texas A&M University, College Station

Josh Norris, M.A.
Climbing and Adventure Education Coordinator
Adventure Leadership Institute
Oregon State University

Climbing Walls. Many, if not most of today’s colleges and university recreation centers feature one of these installations in some form. Whether it is a small bouldering wall tucked away in a corner or a free standing tower rising through the center of your building, these facility features pose an unique issue for managers. Through the 1980’s, the climbing wall industry historically lacked consolidation and standardization. Facilities were built in areas where outdoor climbing was popular and they provided a place where these outdoor adventurers could practice their craft in a controlled environment. Today we see these installations in YMCA’s and university recreation centers, and run as commercial operations – even in areas devoid of any outdoor rock climbing opportunities. This article is the first in a two part series. Part I will focus on physical facilities by covering three topics: Published Guidelines, Documentation, and finally Facility Risks and Inspections. Part II will focus on Employee Training, Climber Instruction and Competency. Read more

Climbing Wall Risk Management: Part 2

July 14, 2011

Employee Training, Participant Instruction and Competency

Jason Kurten, M.S.
Outdoor Adventure Coordinator
Director of Indoor Climbing Facility
Texas A&M University, College Station

Josh Norris, M.A.
Climbing and Adventure Education Coordinator
Adventure Leadership Institute
Oregon State University

This article is the second of a two part series devoted to risk management for artificial climbing walls. The first part of the article dealt with the physical facility. This article will focus on the human element involved in the sport. As many of us know from our larger recreation facilities, the human element can often be the most difficult to manage and sometimes the hardest to predict. However, once the physical facility is secured, the single most important way to mitigate risk in climbing walls is to develop a process to address human errors and issues, both in our employees and our patrons. In developing this process, the areas to focus on include: the concept of Demonstrated Competence and its application to both the skill instruction and testing of our patrons and the training and testing of our employees. Read more

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