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Georgia Cities Focus on Safety and Risk Management

November 15, 2017  |  Gale Horton Gay
This article appeared in the November 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.

Risk and managing risk is something cities big and small, urban and rural have in common.
Across Georgia, many municipalities are step­ping up efforts to address, minimize and man­age risk as much as possible. A LaGrange official said her city takes risk management seriously, so much so that various departments take different approaches to safety and ensuring that employ­ees and residents are at minimal risk.
In 2004, LaGrange began the implementation of a city-wide loss prevention initiative.
“Working with the Milliken Corporation, which has established one of the best safety re­cords in the manufacturing world, we learned the skills to be successful at risk management,” said LaGrange City Manager Meg Kelsey.
“One significant finding from the project re­vealed that majority of on-the-job injuries were tied to fitness levels. The city immediately recog­nized the need to revamp its wellness program and turned toward encouraging employees to live a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
“Tree trimming safety is just one program within our diverse organization,” Kelsey ex­plained. “We have utilized Electric Cities of Georgia and the Georgia Arborists Association for years to assist in training these employ­ees. Their training focuses on topics like chain­saw safety, maintaining minimum approach dis­tances, dot flagging requirements, CPR and first aid.”
“Safety is very important for every employee to make sure they don’t get hurt on the job,” said Kelsey, adding it’s also critical to ensure “we are keeping our citizens safe. The bottom line is accidents cost the city money.”
Dublin Gets Proactive with Risk Management
Dublin Assistant City Manager Artiffany Stanley was tasked with making risk management one of her priorities four year ago at the request of the then-city manager. At the time, she was in human resources and didn’t know much about what risk management entailed.
However, she contacted the Georgia Pub­lic Risk Management Association and learned quickly.
Stanley gathered information from the city of Albany and developed a 50-page safety policy that covers employee safety and training, the roles and responsibilities of supervisors/depart­ment heads/employees, accident and incident reporting, claims administration and more.
She started to take a closer look at Dublin’s workers’ compensation claims, asking “what can we do to alleviate injuries?” She shared informa­tion with employees who filed claims about what they can do to avoid having similar injuries.
At the request of the city’s public works direc­tor, Stanley purchased an online safety series, which is shared with the public works and sani­tation employees.
After a police officer injured his ankle and a sanitation worker stepped on a nail, Stanley purchased steel toe/puncture-resistant boots for detectives and sanitation workers. She’s also or­dered reflective vests for firefighters and plans to buy LED gloves for police officers that will assist with directing traffic at night.
Dublin’s existing safety committee, which hadn’t been meeting, was reactivated, revamped and given new marching orders. The seven members now meet monthly to review workers compensation claims as well as vehicle/equip­ment accidents and incidents. Committee mem­bers also participate in quarterly safety inspec­tions of city buildings.
In the past two years Dublin has also held CPR and first-aid training for employees, and launched an incentive program in which em­ployees can earn a paid half- or full-day off if certain safety goals are met.
According to Stanley, the focus on risk man­agement and newly implemented measures are showing success. She pointed out that Dublin previously had 40-50 worker compensation claims a year, and that number has decreased to approximately 20 claims.
One of Dublin’s 2018 risk management goals is to provide defensive driving training to all employees who drive a city vehicle.