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Friday, March 1, 2024

Risk Services Program works to save UC money

Innovative risk services programs have saved the UC approximately $101 million since 2005.

The Be Smart About Safety program is the most significant factor in financial savings in years, said Jennifer Ward, spokesperson for the UC Office of the President.

It’s been beneficial on many campuses and has saved a lot of money, Ward said. We’re using principles like ergonomics and holding seminars on following proper safety procedures in the workplace.

If you teach folks to sit at the computer right and if you teach them to take breaks, then [it is less likely there will] be instances of tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome and so on, Ward said. It’s little things like watching how you use your telephone to avoid straining your neck.

Be Smart About Safety seminars are held to communicate these concepts to faculty and employees. The program has reduced workplace injuries in the UC by 28 percent since 2004, returning approximately $31.5 million to campuses, according to UCOP news release.

What we’ve realized is that you have to invest to prevent. Studies have shown that every dollar invested in prevention programs saves $4 to $6, said Larry Wong, Risk Services Loss Prevention and Control program manager.

We’re trying to invest our funds in proactive health and safety programs to prevent rather than fix problems, he said. That’s how we save money.

The risk services program is primarily concerned with employee health.

We’re geared towards faculty and staff; student health issues are more abstract for us, Ward said.

The risk services program also deals with property damage issues under the new Property and Fleet program, managed by Gary Leonard.

One way we have brought savings to the university is by going after parties responsible for damage to UC property so that the university only covers the damage it’s responsible for, Leonard said.

The Property and Fleet program is currently working on programs to further educate UC employees on vehicle operation safety by categorizing employees who operate machinery into specific classes.

In order to assess risk at campuses and determine financial factors of risk, the UC relies on actuarial science and key industry experts.

Actuaries are individuals who look at all of our data and using statistics helps us forecast the cost of our program, claims we might experience, and different safety measures we could use, Leonard said. Then, they tell us what we might expect to realize as cost savings once these policies are implemented.

Other changes the risk services program has recently instituted were for expanded health insurance for UC employees and students working abroad.

There’s lots new in employee and student coverage, said Karen Vecchi, OP and Risk Financing manager. One of the main things is extraction coverage in case of political unrest or whatever, and this is huge. We’ve had travel coverage before, but it’s been very minimal.

One of the great things about the UC is that it is very connected internationally, and now UC travel insurance provides rescue and medical evacuation if they are necessary, Ward said.

CHARLES HINRIKSSON can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com.


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