Risk Management Policy
SECTION: Index I - Safety & Risk Management
POLICY NUMBER: I-03
The environmental health and safety of faculty, staff, students and the visiting public is of primary concern to the University of Houston-Victoria. In order to address this concern and in accordance with UH System Administrative Memorandum 01.C.01, Risk Management Policy, the university establishes this risk management policy pertaining to its personnel as well as the safekeeping of its property. The longer-term goal of this policy is to minimize harm to the physical, human, fiscal and environmental resources of the university, and to minimize the potential cost of risk. Therefore, whenever possible, the university shall eliminate, modify, transfer or provide for insurance coverage of existing and potential risks that may cause loss or injury to personnel, damage to component university property or loss of revenue. The university shall take reasonable actions and precautions to prevent harmful events and losses, including:
- Identifying real and potential risks and developing procedures to eliminate, mitigate or manage them (or their effects) in an effective manner;
- Avoiding unnecessary or unreasonable risk exposures to the extent possible;
- Minimizing exposure to financial losses, including the cost of lost productivity, worker’s compensation claims and legal expenditures;
- Protecting physical assets by reducing misuse, theft, damage or unnecessary losses of equipment and property;
- Efficiently managing its insurance policies;
- Working to provide a safer environment, reducing the frequency and severity of work related accidents;
- Minimizing interruptions of the services it provides to the public, thereby maintaining community goodwill;
- Appointing a Risk Manager, responsible for the university's risk management and safety programs;
- Making compliance with this program mandatory, requiring administrators, managers, supervisors, and employees to cooperate in the implementation of this program within their jobs and functional areas of responsibility.
Risk Management is the process of planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling an organization's resources to minimize the possibility of loss or injury from various harmful events. More simply stated it is the process of identifying and controlling losses.
Roles and Responsibilities
During the normal course of university operations, physical, human, fiscal and environmental resources of the university are routinely exposed to various risks that can result in losses. Because risk exposures exist in many operational areas, risk management involves employees in numerous operational areas with specific responsibilities.
As Chief Executive Officer of the university, the President is ultimately responsible for the Risk Management Program. The President delegates operational authority for the Risk Management Program to the Risk Manager.
The Risk Manager (Manager) is responsible for the university's risk management program, including planning, organizing, coordinating, initiating risk control measures, identifying significant known perils and risks to which the university may be exposed, and monitoring the program. The Manager's authority and responsibilities do not cross over into other functional areas of the university other than management of the Campus Safety Program. In this role, the Manager will also:
- Serve as the campus liaison to the University of Houston System Risk Management Department and coordinate risk management related issues with UHS staff when required;
- Consult with the Director of Emergency Management for guidance, direction and assistance in planning and organizing the risk management program;
- Evaluate campus insurance needs annually and consult with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Director of Business Services, Director of Emergency Management, and the UHS Risk Management Staff in the procurement of insurance;
- Advisor for the campus environmental, health and safety programs;
- Notify the UHS Office of General Counsel (OGC) of claims which may significantly impact the financial position of the university or a department within the university;
- Consult the UHS Office of Risk Management and/or OGC for guidance on claims involving bodily injury, personal injury and/or losses.
Administrators, Deans, Directors, Managers and Others in Supervisory Positions
Management employees have an important role in risk management. Although the Risk Manager has the responsibility of planning and organizing the program, to a great extent, he must rely on other functional areas for implementation. The emphasis placed on risk management techniques within departmental functional areas and individual employees bears directly on the success of this program. The risk management roles of those in supervision and management include:
- Implementing university risk management and loss control policies, programs, and procedures within their functional areas;
- Establishing effective lines of communication between employees and supervisory staff and managers to facilitate safety and loss control;
- Promoting a safe, secure and healthful university environment within the department, encouraging employees to promote safety among co-workers and to report safety or risk related issues promptly;
- Providing employees with proper tools, safety equipment, office equipment and furniture to accomplish jobs safely and without injury, both short term and long term, both in office and field environments;
- Encouraging employees to participate in safety-related training;
- Taking prompt and appropriate action to correct unsafe conditions or situations reported by employees;
- Providing for departmental cooperation with the Risk Manager and others outside the department during accident investigations, inspections, and program reviews;
- Cooperating with staff, auditors, and general counsel in ensuring that contracts, agreements, and other documents have the necessary insurance, hold harmless agreements, indemnification, dispute resolution and other protective measures as required by policy.
An effective loss control program begins with employees who regularly employ safe work practices:
- Every employee must agree to work safely, following commonly accepted rules, practices, and procedures, and using the proper tools and equipment to accomplish their work;
- Employees who repeatedly violate safety rules and practices and/or incur preventable accidents are subject to disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal;
- Employees shall participate in regular training and education programs, especially specific areas of safety related to their positions;
- Employees should encourage and promote safety among fellow coworkers and within their respective departments;
- Employees must promptly report safety hazards, potential problems or other compliance issues to management or the Risk Manager.
All Student Organizations
In compliance with the Texas Education Code, Section 51.9361, Student Services will hold an annual meeting in the Fall semester to present the university’s risk management program to members of student organizations registered at the institution. The purpose of the program is to inform and educate participants of institutional risk management program’s policies and procedures:
- At least one officer position of each student organization and the advisor/sponsor of each student organization must be present at the annual meeting;
- Student organization members and advisors/sponsors must sign an acknowledgement form at the meeting stating that they agree to follow commonly accepted rules, practices, and procedures;
- Student organization officers must sign an acknowledgement form at the meeting stating that they agree to present the information from the meeting at the organization’s next scheduled meeting;
- Student organization members must promptly report safety hazards, potential problems or other compliance issues to Student Services at (361) 485-4430. Students may also report items to the Risk Manager.
UHS Office of General Counsel
The Office of General Counsel (Counsel) plays a significant role in the risk management program, affecting risk management directly through the actual legal expertise provided:
- Counsel can provide legal expertise in the identification and analysis of risk exposures;
- Counsel can review policies, programs, contracts, reports, and documents to identify any legal liability exposures before they are implemented, published, or released;
- Counsel can be of valuable assistance in uncovering legal exposures that may result from the university's past, present, and future activities. The university's management staff is encouraged to seek legal counsel advice prior to initiating new policies or programs;
- Counsel can provide legal advice after a loss occurs. The total amount of a loss can often be minimized or mitigated by appropriate actions of legal staff;
- Counsel can work with the State Office of the Attorney General to secure appropriate representation for the university in the event of litigation.
Director of Human Resources
The Director of Human Resources administers and manages the university's human resources programs. Human Resources (HR) represent one of the largest areas of risk exposure to the university, and therefore, must implement sound risk control techniques, including:
- Policies and practices that are compliant with the Fair Labor Standards Act;
- Recruiting, interviewing and hiring policies and practices that meet legal requirements;
- Employment compensation, promotion and advancement opportunity practices that are not discriminatory and do not violate equal employment opportunity and affirmative action laws;
- Compliance with Return-To-Work requirements;
- Compliance with Time and Effort record keeping requirements;
- Compliance with Sexual Harassment requirements.
Workers’ Compensation Claims Coordinator (HR Department)
When employees are exposed to safety and health risks, the university has an increased exposure to workers' compensation claims and losses including injury, disease or death. Losses incurred by the university as a result of compensable, job-related accidental injury, illness, or disease can result in payment of workers' compensation medical and indemnity benefits. These benefit payments and the associated loss of productivity can be substantial. Risk management methodology must be applied effectively for the reduction of workers' compensation losses with a focus of eliminating or reducing the source of human injury, illness, or disease. Accordingly:
- The Claims Coordinator must keep the Risk Manager informed on workers’ compensation claim activity;
- All employee On-The-Job injuries must be reviewed internally by the Risk Manager, Unit Supervisor, and Workers’ Compensation Claims Coordinator to see if the accident may have been preventable and/or what procedures might be implemented to prevent or reduce future exposures and occurrences;
- Active Workers’ Compensation Claims must be monitored by the Claims Coordinator;
- The Return-To-Work policy must be followed, when applicable.
All university employees who handle public funds or property are entrusted by the public to handle such funds or property in a responsible, ethical manner. Such positions of trust are the fiduciary responsibilities of the university. Employees entrusted with handling public funds or property represent a risk exposure to the university through such actions as embezzlement, theft, and misuse or misappropriation of property or funds. The CFO and Comptroller of the university must recognize such fiduciary liabilities and implement sound accounting and fiscal controls to eliminate or minimize the possibility of such losses from occurring. Accordingly, those positions should work closely with the Risk Manager in the identification of exposures and appropriate risk control techniques.
The purchasing function exposes the university to various risks. Those risks can be minimized by:
- Purchasing goods and services that comply with appropriate safety codes and standards;
- Ensuring that proper procurement policy, controls, procedures and practices are in place;
- Complying with ethical guidelines and regulatory requirements;
- Coordinating contract related procurements through Contract Administration;
- Ensuring that bidding and proposal documents include the required university safety clauses and specifications.
Signature Obtained 12/14/2021
Robert K. Glenn, Ph.D. Date
Next Review Date: December 2024 (3 years)
Origination: Safety & Risk Management
If there are any comments and/or questions regarding this policy, please contact the Director of Emergency Management.