This year the Western Virginia Water Authority was awarded the Margaret A. Nichols Risk Management Leadership Awards at the 2016 Annual Meeting held Friday, May 13 at The Place at Innsbrook.
Additionally, VML Insurance Programs (VMLIP) awarded the Town of Halifax, the Town of Ashland, and the Prince William County Service Authority with Risk Management Performance Awards, and awarded 14 individuals a Risk Management Excellence Award.
Risk management award recipients must demonstrate a proactive risk management attitude and commitment; excellent loss experience and reporting time; or a significant improvement in their loss ratios to be considered for the award.
This year’s award winners were:
Western Virginia Water Authority – Margaret A. Nichols Risk Management Leadership Award
The Margaret A. Nichols Risk Management Leadership Award is presented each year to recognize and encourage innovation in risk management by members of the pool. The award is named in honor of Margie Nichols, longtime administrator of VMLIP who passed away in 2002.
“The authority is an active member focused on risk management,” said VML Insurance Programs’ Member Supervisory Board Chair Kurt Hodgen. “They aggressively work to enhance employee safety – through new ideas and initiatives – in order to lower risk throughout the organization.”
“They thoroughly investigate all accidents and ensure that injured workers are offered the chance to utilize the panel of physicians. They follow up with injured workers after every doctor’s appointment, and require them to bring in a current disability note, which is shared with VML Insurance Programs. They provide light duty work for every situation, and have been successful in accommodating most restrictions.”
Additionally, the authority was recognized for a recent organization-wide training effort to confront complacency with regards to safety on the job. They participate in the award-winning Where the Rubber Meets the Road campaign, and maintain a 100 percent score on their Risk Management Guidelines Assessment.
The Town of Halifax, 2016 Risk Management Performance Award
“The Town of Halifax is diligent about ensuring they are doing everything possible to reduce risk,” said Hodgen. “An example is the Explorer Program with the local boy scouts troop. When the town was helping put together a program to help the scouts learn about becoming an officer, Barksdale contacted VML Insurance Programs to discuss this program and make sure they had everything they needed in place to reduce risk.”
The Town of Ashland, 2016 Risk Management Performance Award
“For a small town, they are an extremely active member – they utilize online reporting, the Nurse Triage 24 reporting system for workers’ compensation claims, they offer a panel of physicians for injured workers – as well as light duty, and they participate in the award-winning Where the Rubber Meets the Road campaign,” said Hodgen.
“In particular, the town’s accredited law enforcement department has embraced risk management and instituted a fit-for-duty program utilizing VML Insurance Programs’ grant funding.”
The town also works with safety staff to ensure that their recreation and parks facilities are safe and meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Town staff have also been proactive in addressing cyber risks and have asked for increased cyber options in order to mitigate these risks.
Prince William County Service Authority, 2016 Risk Management Performance Award
“The authority keeps safety in the forefront of their operations,” said Hodgen. “They recently hired a new safety and loss control manager with a background in risk management, who has been proactive in taking on the authority’s risk management program. Over the past fund year they have had no claims involving lost time, a testament to their safety and risk management program.”
The authority offers a panel of physicians and light-duty work whenever possible for injured employees.
Pam Baughman, Louisa County Water Authority, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“As general manager, Pam has taken great pride in the responsibility of writing and implementing a safety program for the authority’s employees. She participated in a voluntary OSHA inspection process to further improve their existing program and safety of her employees, and she has consistently emphasized the importance of safety to her employees, which has improved the safety culture at Louisa County Water Authority,” said Hodgen.
Michael Bozeth, City of Winchester, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“As the city’s senior human resources analyst, he took it upon himself to manage the Where the Rubber Meets the Road campaign participation after their long-time risk manager left. He arranged for the whole city to complete their training – all 312 drivers – utilizing the VMLIP Online University as well as through attending a VMLIP Safe Driver Instructor course in anticipation of teaching for the campaign,” said Hodgen.
“He has been the driving force in reviving the city’s safety committee, and in doing so actively sought help from VML Insurance Programs’ staff. While he does not have a traditional risk management background, when he arrived at the city he immediately contacted VMLIP staff to find out what resources were available. To that end, he was instrumental in helping the city reach a 100% score on the Risk Management Guidelines assessment.”
Brenda Cogdell, City of Manassas, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“Brenda is often asked to share policies or programs with other members of VML Insurance Programs looking to implement the successful safety initiatives she has implemented in Manassas,” said Hodgen. “She never hesitates to share and has even consulted with members who needed help with various risk management issues.”
Each quarter, Brenda organizes a safety luncheon for employees who were accident-free. She shares monthly safety tips and organizes monthly department safety meetings in addition to the city wide safety meeting.
“Brenda has been the driving force to get safety recommendations completed within the city, and has been an advocate for the use of the VMLIP Online University and for city participation in the award-winning Where the Rubber Meets the Road campaign.”
She was recently recommended by the President of the Virginia Public Risk Management Association (Virginia PRIMA) to participate on the National PRIMA Board, where she was recently selected to serve.
Rosemary Creekmur, Spotsylvania County Schools, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“As human resources assistant for the school system, Rosemary has been a terrific asset to have for not only the injured worker, but for VMLIP claims staff,” said Hodgen. “Rosemary provides the VMLIP claims staff with all information needed to investigate claims and determine compensability, including photographs and video of accidents that occur where surveillance cameras are located. In fact, she has developed materials that other members utilize to complete their investigations and provide information to claims staff.”
Additionally, Rosemary coordinates the injured worker’s return to light duty. Once a light duty position is offered she sends out a letter to the injured worker and supervisor outlining the restrictions set by the treating physician, the job duties of the position, and the hours and location of the assignment. This practice has successfully brought resolution to many of the schools claims. Both the contact and light duty letters developed by Rosemary have been sent to and implemented by other members, as these letters are detailed and cover information in a way that the injured worker better understands their rights and their responsibilities.
Annette Hall, Stafford County Schools, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“As loss control manager for the school system, Annette has a detailed school inspections process that includes report-back and follow up procedures,” said Hodgen. “Additionally, she organizes meetings with school administrators to review losses and discuss preventative measures that have and will be taken. She ensures a thorough walk-through is done of each and every school in the system, including classrooms, mechanical rooms, playgrounds, storage rooms, the cafeteria, auditorium, and more.”
Annette documents hazards at each walk-through, and when possible ensures they are addressed on the spot. This process has been effective for Stafford County Schools, who maintains a five-year loss ratio of 33 percent.
Loren Kato, City of Fredericksburg, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“This past fall, Loren organized three days of snowplow training for the city’s snow patrol – comprised of public works, parks and recreation, and public facilities staff who operate the city’s snowplows or are in charge of clearing city sidewalks,” said Hodgen. “All in all, nearly 100 staff completed the eight-hour instruction, with more than 30 staff in attendance each day.”
The eight-hour training was composed of a half-day in the classroom and a half-day of practical learning and hands-on operation of the equipment. The classroom-learning portion provided an overview of road conditions and temperatures, as well as the types and amounts of chemicals or abrasives that should be applied depending on road conditions.
The city also brought in snowplows and tractors to a large parking lot and put trainees through an obstacle course which included parallel parking, navigating a tight bridge, maneuvering safely around obstacles – such as mailboxes, plowing a cul de sac, and more.
Some drivers left the parking lot to practice driving on the road – getting a feel for driving over train tracks and exit ramps and learning how the plow feels when loaded with sand versus when empty.
“We are sure that all of this came in handy during the 2016 blizzard,” said Hodgen.
Todd Larkin, Rappahannock Community Services Board, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“Larkin ensures that facilities are maintained and that when VML Insurance Programs’ safety staff make a recommendation, it is addressed immediately,” said Hodgen. “He has taken the time to implement risk management guidelines, and this past year helped with providing lifting and back injury prevention training material that another member was seeking.”
Darby Moore, City of Staunton, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“As a human resources technician, Darby proactively manages the city’s claims. She notifies our claims representative of all forthcoming claims before it has been set up, and sometimes before it has been reported to NT24,” said Hodgen. “Additionally, Darby anticipates what we will need to complete a claim investigation and often provides this information before it is requested.”
Lenny McDonald and Dennis Welsh, Loudon County Sanitation Authority, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“To honor two employees from one entity with an individual award for each, is quite an accomplishment,” said Hodgen. “They have both been longtime supporters of VML Insurance Programs. They understand the importance of workplace safety, especially when performing work in confined spaces. In fact, the authority has donated a number of gas monitors to other VML Insurance Programs members who were in need of additional equipment.”
Neil Norris, Western Virginia Water Authority, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“Neil works aggressively to increase safety and lower risk throughout the organization,” said Hodgen. “To this end, he recently led an organizational wide training effort to confront complacency with regards to safety on the job.”
Neil investigates all accidents and ensures that injured workers are offered the chance to utilize the panel of physicians. He follows up with injured workers after every doctor’s appointment, and requires them to bring in a current disability note, which he shares with VML Insurance Programs. He works to find light duty for every situation and has been successful in accommodating most restrictions.
“It is clear to many VML Insurance Programs’ staff that Neil is having a positive impact on safety throughout his organization. His sense of humor and calm have helped both Neil and our staff come up with solutions to issues without great difficulty,” said Hodgen.
Jessica Rice, City of Charlottesville, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“Jessica has been the risk management specialist for the city for several years now and has been a tremendous resource for the property and liability claims department,” said Hodgen. “She coordinates gathering investigative materials from various city departments, as well as conducting scene investigations and follow-up field work to provide information to claims adjusters so they can make the proper decision on all city claims.”
Heather Taylor, Town of Mount Jackson, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“As the town clerk, Heather has been the driving force behind Mt. Jackson’s participation in the award-winning Where the Rubber Meets the Road campaign since she was trained in 2012,” said Hodgen. “In fact, she has also been conducting training for the nearby Town of Edinburg.”
For two years, Heather has taught defensive driving classes, and recently has taught both winter driving and safe backing courses. Heather’s support of the Town of Edinburg has been the main reason that Edinburg has been able to complete the training requirements for this campaign.
Donna Vogel, City of Suffolk, 2016 Risk Management Excellence Award
“Donna has multiple responsibilities with the City of Suffolk, including risk management, benefits and wellness,” said Hodgen. “Upon her arrival, Donna and her team immediately took a hard look at the city’s claims from each department, and through a series of productive meetings with VML Insurance Programs’ staff, city leadership, and department heads, implemented an effective high hazard/low hazard risk management plan.”
Donna has also focused on the utilization of data in order to focus on the areas of key concern to reduce the city’s exposure and cost of risk. Prior to implementing new programs and policies, Donna thoroughly considers the best approach and evaluates all potential options, alternatives, and consequences of the implementation.
In addition to the awards ceremony, workshop speakers presented on a number of topics including: a neurosurgeon’s point of view on workers’ compensation injuries; the City of Suffolk’s risk management program; contract review; and developing a termination process.
The luncheon featured a selection of cupcakes from Frostings Bakery, complete with logos of award winners.
VMLIP is the first and largest group self-insurance pool in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more than 30 years, VMLIP has provided auto, property, liability, and workers’ compensation coverage to more than 460 local political subdivisions across Virginia. VMLIP provides pool members with superior financial stability and effective risk management services. For more information, visit: http://www.vmlins.org or follow VMLIP on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/vmlip.