RISK ROUNDUP—Whether you brought 2020 in with fireworks and friends or enjoyed a peaceful evening at home, it’s always exciting to greet a new year—especially a new year that’s also a new decade.
The first of the year is also a popular time to create new personal and professional goals. And if you haven’t already done so, January can also be a good time to review last year’s business successes, as well as reflect on programs and actions that were not quite so successful.
To help inspire your efforts, I asked Mr. Walter Haney of American Risk Managers to recommend a few specific areas for review, along with some ideas or tips for each topic.
Here Are 9 Ways You Can Start 2020 Off With A Bang:
1) Performance Reviews
Take some time to review the performance of your company and the goals you set at the beginning of the last physical year.
These performance reviews could include such departments as production, shipping & receiving, sales, marketing, financial, or your overall company performance. (Note: Safety is addressed in two other sections.)
Another good area to focus on could be your future goals. If you’re wanting to grow your company, you can begin now to lay the groundwork for its future expansion.
You may also want to get your managers and department heads involved, allowing them to provide updates and share new goals, past triumphs and future expectations.
TIP: Make sure to always document your goals. Studies show that writing down your goals increases the chances of completing them. This study in Forbes details several different ways that writing down your goals helps you achieve them, but you can also find numerous online statistics supporting this same subject.
2) Review Triggers For Plus & Minus Performance
Review with company management and department heads the rewards of employee overperformance and the detriments (or debits) to be applied for underperformance.
Make sure your management personnel understand that these rewards or detriments are to be applied without differential treatment to any employees.
Knowing that bonuses are available may provide an added push for some employees, while others will attempt to perform better to avoid debit situations.
Highlighting rewards and bonuses and how certain employees met and surpassed their goals can be a good incentive for others.
You’re also going to want to investigate the triggers as to why some employees didn’t meet their goals, so they can know which areas need improvement or added focus.
TIP: Make sure management takes steps to eliminate any unnecessary processes that could be holding employees back.
3) Review Your Safety Program For Strengths & Weaknesses
Mr. Walter recommends bringing in an outside Safety Consultant to review your company’s Safety Program in order to have an unbiased view of its accomplishments and needs.
You may have the best safety person in the country, but having an outside opinion—or second set of eyes—is important for the best overall results.
An outside consultant will not only bring in new ideas, they can also spot potential problems that your own personnel—who are so familiar with their surroundings—may not even be aware of. They can also offer suggestions on how to correct them.
“It might be something as simple as not cleaning floor areas that people are walking on,” Mr. Walter said. “You might hold off on watering down any areas until the third shift, when no personnel are working in that area.
“Then you can wash it down and let it completely dry before anybody goes back on that surface.”
TIP: Allow employees to offer input and safety suggestions. You can find more information and other ideas in “For Safety’s Sake: 10 Proven Programs Your Business Can Implement Today.”
4) Allow Your Safety Manager To Focus On Their Role
Start each new year with a renewed focus on safety and allow your Safety Manager ample time to promote special programs.
“Too many times, companies want to combine the Safety Manager’s job with another job,” Mr. Walter said. “They weaken both jobs when they do that.
“You don’t need somebody who is in charge of purchasing also trying to manage your Safety Program. He’ll be so busy with his purchasing job, that he’ll not be able to dedicate enough attention to safety matters.
“Safety Managers also need to go to meetings and various continued education trainings to help them do their best job.”
If you have combined roles like this within your company, consider hiring additional personnel, so your Safety Manager can focus on more important responsibilities.
You’re not really saving money by having one employee handle dual roles. Safety is an important job. Keeping employees safe and keeping losses down pays off in less accidents and claims.
“By letting your Safety Manager focus on his position, you’ll save money on your insurance costs and on all the indirect costs that are associated with losses,” Mr. Walter noted.
TIP: Keep Safety First and avoid the significant losses that occur outside of the amount of money the insurance company pays whenever you have a loss; such as lost time, medical costs, physical therapy expenses, possible retraining and increased Workers’ Compensation rates.
5) Review Your Losses With Your Risk Management Firm
An annual review of claims is just one of the parts of a solid Risk Management program.
Reviewing your loss history will tell you the areas you should be looking at and spark discussions on needed changes or improvements.
If you haven’t been working with an independent Risk Manager previously, do some research on firms in your area. Some companies (like ours) cover multiple states.
There are countless benefits to having a consultant onboard who is an expert in risk. Just like your lawyer or accountant, Risk Managers are frequently outsourced instead of being on staff.
“To manage your company’s risk programs, you have to understand them,” Mr. Walter said. “Risk Managers are trained to identify risks associated with your particular type of operation, help you eliminate them and develop customized insurance programs to best protect your company.”
They can also help you bid out your company’s insurance coverages (50% of the time keeping your current agent) and usually save you 25-35% on insurance costs. (More than enough to pay their fees.)
TIP: Using your loss runs, a Risk Manager can create a spreadsheet detailing claims by operation location, specific shifts and other differentiators. They’ll also note costly lost time accidents, so you’ll be able to spot patterns.
BONUS: Get Expert Opinions — When Necessary
Mr. Walter advises companies to bring in outside experts in some special areas, such as Safety Programs or certain types of auditing situations.
For example, he advises forensic reviews after lost business income claims. You can find more information on business income insurance needs here.
For certain types of audits, your Risk Manager will conduct their own audit to double-check for errors and accuracy. See “Top 3 Reasons Why Audits Increase Commercial Insurance Costs” for more information.
“Owners and top managers can’t be all things to everybody,” he said. “You have to do what you do best, and recognize when you need outside assistance. We’re not afraid to tell our clients to get an expert opinion.”
TIP: Always use an expert from an independent firm, not one employed by an insurance carrier. You need someone whose view is not tainted by any type of special interest.
6) Develop Corrective Actions To Strengthen Weak Areas.
After reviewing performances in each department, you’ll want to further your efforts to remedy underperformance issues.
Mr. Walter noted, “You have to know what needs to be corrected. If you know what’s wrong, you can correct it. But if you never find out what’s wrong, you have no way of correcting it.
“If there’s a problem in your Workers’ Compensation program, it needs to be identified. If you have employees that are getting injured, you have to find out what’s happening and how it’s happening.”
As far as strengthening programs, Mr. Walter said one example could be as simple as making sure all personnel adhere to company regulations when making changes to or repairing any equipment or machinery.
“If you’re working on motor equipment, adhere to “Lockout/Tagout,” he said. “You have to lock out the equipment from any type of power source and then tag it as out of operation.
“And only after the repair or service job is completed are those tags to be removed.”
Employees who work on dangerous machinery should also be advised to never try to quickly perform any action that puts their life or limbs in harm’s way.
“You can’t try to grab something quicker than a machine operates,” he noted. “You always have to completely stop the machine. And if you have to go inside the machine itself to work on it, you need to make sure it doesn’t have the ability to start up by itself.
“Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) is one of the most important procedures you’ll ever use with mechanical and manufacturing equipment. Most companies are aware of this and understand its importance. They’ve been told by OSHA.”
TIP: You can find more information and interactive training programs by visiting the OSHA (Occupational and Safety Health Administration) website or clicking here. A USDA overview on LOTO can be found here.
7) Establish Control Of The Use Of Motor Vehicles
Don’t overlook your company fleet during review time. If you haven’t done so already, you’ll definitely want to establish control of all vehicles.
Establishing control of your fleet means limiting the number of employees who are authorized to operate vehicles.
You’ll also want to limit the usage of all vehicles when employees are not on company business.
“By limiting the people who operate vehicles, you can really tone down the personnel and up the quality of the drivers, using as fleet operators only those with the best ability,” Mr. Walter said.
“For example, if you have 10 people and two vehicles, and you can get it down to the two most able drivers, you have accomplished something.
“If you don’t care and you let anybody who has a key go out there and crank your company vehicles up and drive them, then you have a problem. You’re taking unnecessary chances.”
TIP: Mr. Walter said two drivers will also take better care of the vehicles—and keep them cleaner—than 10 drivers will.
8) Vehicle Maintenance & Records Update
Your company’s fleet vehicles should be serviced on a regular basis, with a review of maintenance issues conducted annually.
You should also make sure your vehicle list is up to date for your insurance company, with all purchased vehicles being added, and any sold or surplus vehicles taken off of your insurance coverage.
Regarding maintenance, Mr. Walter recommends using an outside company that specializes in automobile service to work on your company’s vehicles.
“Maintenance of any equipment is important,” he noted. “And it should only be done by a specialist who does that type of work. You need to let an auto maintenance company service your fleet vehicles and then return them to you.”
He noted that it’s not a good idea to ask an employee that’s already worked a full day to work on vehicle maintenance after their regular shift.
“They’re ready to go home and you’re not going to get as much effort out of them,” he said. “This type of situation can create a safety hazard.”
TIP: Fleet drivers can and should perform pre-trip vehicle reviews, such as checking oil, cooling levels, belts, tires, batteries, etc. You can visit OSHA publications for helpful checklists.
9) Emphasize Sales & Production Control
Another important aspect of your company is planning and scheduling, and you’ll want to incorporate some type of forecasting review with your sales and production departments.
“It’s important to have sales and production as part of your overall reviews, meetings and goals,” Mr. Walter said.
“You need to establish your production to meet your sales goals, so you don’t have an overrun of materials or manufactured items. Having an overrun can limit or reduce the value of your products.”
Determine the amount of product you’re trying to sell ahead of time and then set up your production lines to match. This allows the entire process to flow forward naturally, without the overproduction of product.
TIP: Establishing precise production schedules also helps to avoid extra overtime, which can be costly and dangerous. Excess overtime can lead to inattention and is also likely to drive up losses. Plus, people who are tired just aren’t as productive.
Good Luck In 2020!
We hope these ideas and tips will help you consider several reviews and followup plans to implement at your company.
Regular reviews also help to improve management efficiency.
And better management always lessens the risks for any business.
Discuss These Reviews Further With Mr. Walter By Calling (800) 548-0117.
(Photo Credit: Nick Kwan/Pexels)