The purpose of this report is to provide information, both programmatic and statistical, to help us understand and incorporate risk management measures into the everyday tasks we perform. Some general and unique challenges that have faced Clackamas County will be addressed as well. Knowing there is no crystal ball for forecasting the future needs of the County, we must rely on the experiences and statistics of previous years to project potential areas of future need.
Clackamas County has 381,775 residents living within an area of 1,879 square miles. The county is primarily rural but does include 17 cities and local governments. Clackamas County employs approximately 2,357 full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary employees, along with many volunteers. County government consists of departments organized to provide the following services: transportation and development, sewer, public safety/law enforcement, tourism, public and governmental affairs, libraries, community health and social services, taxation and assessment, as well as internal administrative services.
It is the intention of Clackamas County to preserve and protect the assets of the County from accidental loss at the most economical cost. Also, just as importantly, the County’s goal is to provide a safe, secure and healthful working environment for its employees. The County has elected to retain exposure to loss primarily through self-insurance and transfer exposure through purchased insurance only when the premium cost has been determined to be cost-efficient compared to the exposure.
The management and control of the County’s risk management program is a function of the Risk and Benefits Division, within the Department of Employee Services. A Risk Management Committee provides oversight of this function with the day to day management provided by the Risk Manager. Our philosophy is that risk management must be so much a part of County culture that it becomes a value rather than merely a priority that shifts as other priorities change. The primary areas managed through this program are: liability, workers’ compensation, vehicles and unemployment claims administration, loss control services, insurance, and contracts.
Services to the Organization
Risk Management staff provides the following services to the organization:
- Internal consulting services for departmental staff on preventing and controlling risks, including risk assessments;
- Workers’ compensation, liability, vehicle, property and unemployment claims administration;
- Marketing, purchasing, and administration of property, excess liability and workers’ compensation, and other miscellaneous insurance policies and bonds;
- Review of County contracts for insurance requirements and indemnification language;
- Employee and supervisory training on risk-related topics, including tort liability, workers’ compensation, loss control and employee safety;
- Coordination of modified duty assignments and physical rehabilitation programs for injured workers;
- Loss control consultative services for employee safety and environmental issues;
- Ergonomic consultations.
As the economy continues its struggle to recover, the County’s risk management efforts remain an important factor in minimizing loss that further reduces the resources necessary to keep our budgets on solid footing. Exposure to loss, for the most part, is within our control to minimize.
Our Cost of Risk decreased during FY 11/12, primarily due to a reduction in liability claims costs. Workers’ compensation claims also decreased.
Vehicle losses have sustained a slow, but steady, increase since FY 07/08. Of particular interest is the increase in “at-fault” vehicle accidents. $983 per 100,000 miles driven in FY 10/11 compared to $1,304 in FY 11/12 shows the increase in just two years. We will discuss the area of vehicle loss increase in more detail later in this report.
Unemployment costs decreased from last year by 25%. It is the first decline since FY 07/08.
Daily attention to risk identification, prevention and mitigation is very important to the financial stability of ongoing stresses on County resources. Risks arise from decisions and practices throughout the entire organization, not just those departments with the most likelihood of sustaining loss. We should work together to establish a culture of continual risk management in all aspects of providing the valuable services we provide.
Claims data reflects that from FY 10/11 to FY 11/12 costs changed by the following:
- Liability down 52%
- Workers’ Compensation down 30%.
- Vehicle up 17%.
The OSHA Incidence Rate graph shows how we have done in preventing injuries. The current OSHA review period increased slightly (6%). The rate represents the second highest rate during the past five years. Eight work groups accounted for the majority of this increase. We continue to face the challenge of putting into place those actions (e.g. heightened awareness of the risks associated with a certain task) that will focus on prevention.
To compare our program with like entities, we calculate the cost of risk as a percentage of budget and payroll. Costs include: actual claims expenditures, insurance premiums, staff salaries and benefits, materials and supplies, consultants and contractors. From the graph you will see that our cost of risk reduced (Budget -.21 and Payroll -.21) in the 11/12 fiscal year compared to the increase the prior year of .24 and .31, respectively. The majority of this decrease relates to a decrease in claims costs, specifically liability claims.
Claims brought against the County comprise a significant portion of the annual expenditures from the self insurance fund. We contract with a third-party administrator to effectively manage general liability, employment and vehicle claims. County Counsel contributes early on in any claims that may involve litigation.The following graphs show the pertinent data related to these exposures.
This report reflects a 52% decrease in liability costs from FY 10/11 to FY 11/12, making it the most dramatic decrease from one year to the next in recent memory. Two large liability settlements accounted for 79% of the increase in liability claims costs during FY 10/11. FY 11/12 did not have any claims of this magnitude.
More importantly, the number of liability claims also decreased by 11%, boding well for future costs.
The general liability category (e.g. trip/fall, road design, etc.) was the category with the highest number of claims in the liability claims area, up slightly from the previous fiscal year. It was also the category with the highest cost and the only year this category has been the highest in the last five years. Costs in the general liability category increased by about 400%. Note: this is the cost paid during FY 11/12 for all claims, regardless of the year they occurred in.
Because auto claims are the second highest area of loss, we need to continue our emphasis on safe driving habits. The Vehicle Claims section of this report contains more detail.
The Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Transportation and Development, as expected, were the departments with the highest number and cost of liability claims.
The past year’s workers’ compensation and liability costs were almost the same, as were the number of claims. Workers’ compensation claims costs decreased by 30% from FY 10/11 to FY 11/12 while the number decreased by 4% during the same period.
The number of claims per employee decreased by 13%. This continues a two-year downward trend that we are very pleased with. We still, however, are not down to the FY 08/09 rate, but are headed in the right direction.
The number of strains and sprains decreased by 13% this past year. You will also note that “occupational disease” claims increased by one (25%). These are claims that result from activities that occur/accumulate over longer periods of time as opposed to an injury that occurs as the result of one incident.
The cost graphs capture the amount spent during the fiscal year for all claims. It is apparent that strains and sprains continue to generate significant costs. Even though the number of strains/sprains declined, the cost increased by 24%. This type of injury is usually the most potentially volatile, so implementing ways of preventing them is vital.
No real surprises in the data that shows which departments generate claims, other than the difference between the cost of DTD and H3S claims where H3S claims generated four and a half times more cost than DTD. The high cost of the H3S claims resulted from claims in the Health and Weatherization divisions. The claims were all strain/sprains and had higher than usual disability compensation because some injured workers were laid off and, consequently, remained on disability.
County personnel drove in excess of 6.8 million miles during FY 11/12. The total number of vehicle accidents (both fault and not-at-fault) increased from 105 to 135 (29%). The cost for these accidents increased by 17%.
You will note that the graphs are organized a bit differently this year. We felt it was important to distinguish between “not-at-fault” and “fault” accidents. This will help us to focus on those accidents that result from error on the part of the County driver and look for loss prevention methods to address it.
The preceding graphs capture the areas where our loss control efforts need to be focused. These are all causes that resulted from driver errors. From an analysis of the data, driver distractions and poor judgment were the primary causes.
It makes sense that the department that drives the most would have the greatest number of vehicle incidents (CCSO). Proper follow-up training after a preventable accident and regular refresher training are important for all departments.
The number of claims per miles driven is the best way to compare Clackamas County with other jurisdictions. For example, Multnomah County’s rate of 2.48 (number of incidents per 100,000 miles driven) shows how our two jurisdictions compare.
Unemployment expenses decreased for the first time in the past five years (25%). This is a better reduction than the decline in Oregon’s unemployment rate in general.
We have made some progress in the areas of appropriate documentation about employment actions and involving the Department of Employee Services early when employment questions and decisions arise. State and Federal extensions have ended as well.
Premiums increased slightly (4%). The markets held steady with no large reinsurer loss impact. The primary increases were in the property and excess workers’ compensation lines.
There were no losses against any of the County’s insurance policies.
Clackamas County purchases insurance in the following areas: property, boiler and machinery, excess liability, excess workers' compensation, volunteer and van liability, and marine and aviation liability.
Achieving our mission - The goal of any risk management effort should be to help the organization achieve its mission. At the beginning of this report we stated that with resources shrinking, risk management plays an important role. In light of this, we should question how we are doing relative to those efforts. Hopefully, the data presented in this report can help answer that question.
It has been suggested that managing our risk effectively can be seen as a way to increase resources. Here are a couple of ways this can happen.
In terms of workers’ compensation, employees who are at work because they have not been injured on the job avoids the need to back-fill, avoids overtime, promotes higher quality work because the person whose job it is, is doing the work, promotes positive morale and eliminates claim costs.
On the liability side, attention to how an action may bring liability upon the County improves County-citizen relations by avoiding contentious claims. This attention often improves the efficiency of the service as well since time is not spent investigating and managing the result of a bad decision.
Fiscal Year 11/12 saw the liability and workers’ compensation costs decrease while the number of vehicle claims and cost increased.
Efforts will be increased to improve the consistency and effectiveness of our driver training. With the majority of the accidents occurring in the Sheriff’s Office, Risk Management will lend its support to finding ways of meeting the training needs. Also, on a County-wide basis, emphasis will be placed on increased use of the Alert Driving training tool.
Safety Committees were an area of substantial emphasis during FY 11/12. Risk Management made a concerted effort to organize and re-energize the safety committee function. Committees are organized in almost all County departments and Risk Management’s Safety and Loss Control Analysts are assisting them in meeting consistently and operating according to OSHA requirements.
The Safety Incentive Program went through a complete change in FY 11/12. Mostly from a philosophical perspective it was felt that, while the BINGO program was useful in raising safety awareness, it lacked active participation. We were finding that under the BINGO program people, for the most part, were not doing anything to promote safety, merely getting a number every day. It was felt that we could improve on the return on our investment. The current program focuses on engaging by reporting safe and unsafe behaviors and conditions. There has been an average of 600 submissions per month since the program was instituted.
Our goal remains to assist County departments in working to preserve and protect the assets of Clackamas County and its citizens.
Dwayne Kroening, CRM
Human Resources Assistant
Integrated Disability Analyst
Integrated Disability Analyst
Human Resources Assistant
Risk & Loss Control Analyst
Risk & Loss Control Analyst
Human Resources Assistant
Employee Services Director
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