Working with the Risk Manager

April 08, 2011

Joe Risser CPCU, ARM-P
Director, Risk Management
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Risk Managers are often viewed as ‘the person who says no’ in the organization since they are expected to protect the organization from liability or other losses. Traditionally however, the role of the Risk Manager is to advise and assist those responsible for the operations, programs and activities of an organization in their efforts to manage risk. Ultimately, the organization’s chief executive and managers have the responsibility and authority to protect the organization, employees, customers and the community from losses.

Risks that can result in losses include (but are not limited to): loss of a building or other facility to fire or flood; injury of an employee to the degree they cannot perform their job, short term or long term; injury to a customer and/or damage to another person’s property resulting in a claim and/or litigation. Ultimately a judgment could be rendered which may adversely affect the organization (court expenses, order to pay medical expenses, restitution, life long disability or loss of earnings), and result in significant if not severe financial loss for any organization.

Risk management is prevention and/or control of risk to reduce losses, and the arranging of financing for losses, through transfer and/or insurance. Safety inspections and procedures, activity guidelines and standards, staff selection criteria and supervision guidelines, waivers and release agreements, liability and medical expense coverage programs and/ or insurance, are all tools to manage risk – so that the desired activity and/or operation can take place with minimum impact of losses.

The key steps in the risk management process include:

  • Identifying risk in activities and operations
  • Analyzing the potential frequency and severity of losses due to risk
  • Developing techniques to manage the identified risk and possible loss

This information is balanced with the priorities of the organization for accomplishing its mission, maintaining reputation, avoiding litigation and preserving financial resources, through the development by the organization of a risk management plan.

Critical to the key steps in this process is the expertise of the organization’s Risk Management professional and technical staff, and their knowledge of the people, materials, equipment, facilities, and processes involved in the various activities and operations within the organization. Providing this expertise, along with specific standards and guidelines of regulatory agencies and associations, and the purpose/ priority of the particular activity, equipment, or operation in the program, will ensure the development of a solid risk management plan which protects and supports the mission of the organization.

A successful risk management plan must be both implementable and implemented by all members of the organization. Collaboration of the professional and technical staff of each department within the organization with the Risk Manager and senior management of the organization is critical to the design and operation of the risk management plan. Not recognizing a risk and failing to manage that risk can result in a serious loss. Recognizing a risk, establishing controls and not implementing them can result in both a serious loss and civil and even criminal liability for negligence.

Risk management in Campus Recreation is essential! There are many areas of risk exposure and the potential for injury to participants is high. Combining the specific skills and techniques provided by the Risk Manager with the knowledge and commitment of Campus Recreation staff will ensure that the most effective risk management strategies are developed and implemented.

Ask your Risk Manager for help — the answer won’t be ‘No’.

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