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Slip and Fall Risk Management

Hold department managers accountable for safety to promote better loss control

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From mat management to the use of proper cleaning products, prevention is, of course, key to slip and fall management in retail stores. But there are two additional key areas that should be addressed — management communication and accountability. Indeed, sharing information and holding department managers accountable for results can reap numerous benefits for a company.

On a macro level, there are millions of slip and fall losses each year, and the costs are in the billions. Such accidents are also a leading loss leader for workers’ compensation and general liability lines of business for retail operations. On a micro level, a risk manager should understand how slip and fall losses trend within the organization, then follow this information with action plans to address it. In most organizations, this is where the information stops or bottlenecks occur.

Some of the more-effective programs push trending information beyond the corporate office and share it with all levels of management, especially the front lines. In evaluating your own program, how would you answer the following questions?

 • Are your department managers aware of the insurance costs associated with the operations of your organization?

 • Are the types of losses, namely slip and falls, shared from a frequency and cost perspective? What about other losses?

 • Are reports shared on a frequent basis so that all levels of the operation can see how losses are trending, better or worse?

 • In order to understand the sales-to-cost comparison, can managers translate how many items need to be sold in order to make up the work comp and general liability costs for the organization? How about the department?

Once department managers are educated about trends within the company and department, it is time for them to have “skin in the game” by being accountable for the results directly in their control. This should result in the following:

 • Getting their attention. If the managers know they’re being held accountable for results and being measured on safety performance, then it is likely that they will take a more proactive approach to risk management.

 • Promoting better loss control efforts. In fact, managers tend to get more directly involved (ownership) in managing loss control programs when they know that there is attention from all fronts. They will be more active and follow through on what they know and can control. They will also seek more help, guidance and look for other ideas to assist them.

Holding managers accountable for safety performance can take on a couple of different approaches:

 • Performance Review: Include safety metric outcomes as part of the performance review process. Give managers clear goals for safety performance and results. As part of the goals, avoid using just frequency and cost measures. It is important to also include activity-based items that promote loss control activities. The risk manager/safety department should identify activities that will assist department managers in managing their program. Some examples are:

 • Complete and maintain logs of floor inspection and submit them to the risk management department regularly.

 • Complete self-inspection checklist addressing all floor conditions on a frequent basis.

 • Provide periodic training and reminders to employees about slip and fall management and prevention. This should include educating employees on loss trends within their department and asking for suggestions for improvement. Employees like to be asked and involved and can actually offer some of the best ideas.

 • Cost Allocation System: This process rewards both risk managers and individual departments for doing well. There needs to be a direct correlation between departmental losses and the risk management costs allocated to their units. Consider using both risk bearing (costs directly related to their department) and risk sharing (insurance premiums and cost of risk costs are spread out among all departments) as measurement. Again, when it comes to allocation of costs, it is most beneficial to allocate those that are clearly incurred by the department and solely in the department’s control. Incorporating both of these ideas into a company’s risk management program will help reap many benefits.

Don Enke is a senior risk manager with Safety National Casualty Corp. (don.enke@ safetynational.com).

© 2014