by Ed Schirick
risk management process involves a series of steps: risk identification,
risk analysis and evaluation, risk control, risk financing, and risk
administration. Each of these steps is dependent upon the other and that
the entire process is active, fluid, and constantly changing. However,
the risk management process doesn't work very well unless the camp director/risk
manager gathers data - information about incidents and accidents from
operations - that can be quantified, analyzed, and evaluated. This data,
which takes on new meaning through the analysis and evaluation process,
leads to new risk identification, fosters risk control (safety and loss
prevention efforts), and challenges how you finance risk (buy insurance,
retain the risk through deductibles, transfer it in a contract), which
in turn redefines how you manage the whole process.
Incident vs. Accident
An incident is generally considered to be an event specific as to date
and time that could have resulted in injury to people, damage to property,
or financial loss to the business. Professionals in experiential education
and in organized camping have characterized incidents such as this as "near
misses." Incidents occur often in business. Unfortunately, managers are
not always on the alert, so some incidents are not recognized as such.
On the other hand, an accident is an incident that results in unintended
injury to people or damage to property that will cause a loss to the
Capturing data about where, when, and how incidents and accidents occur
at camp is critical to the success of the process. The detail of each
situation is the fuel needed to run the risk management engine.
Sources of Information about Incidents and Accidents
Camp directors can obtain information about incidents and accidents
from many sources, such as from their insurance company and from camp
One of the best sources of information on incidents and accidents is claims
information from your camp's insurance carrier. All insurance companies make
claims information available to customers on request. Known as loss runs,
or loss experience, these documents usually capture information such as the
annual premium, the type of policy, policy number, date of loss, date the
loss was reported, name of the claimant, the type of loss (e.g. broken arm,
sexual misconduct, windstorm damage), a claims adjuster's estimate of the
dollar amount necessary to settle the claim, and the estimated expenses of
adjusting the claim (e.g. attorney's fees, investigators fees).
In addition, information about whether the claim is paid and the matter
closed or open and still pending is available. Each claim shown on the
loss runs reports has a story, which is where the real value resides
for the camp director/risk manager and the risk analysis/evaluation process.
Camp directors should be obtaining loss runs reports at least annually
on all their insurance coverages, especially on property, liability,
automobile, workers compensation, and camper accident medical insurance
coverage. This information should be obtained from your current insurance
carrier and from all prior insurers. When there are no more open claims
on your record from the prior carrier, you need this report only from
your current insurer.
Health center log
Another source of valuable information on incidents and accidents is the health
center log. This record represents a wealth of information about what is
happening at camp. A daily review of the log will provide the camp director/risk
manager with important information. Over time, patterns may become evident,
which may lead to further analysis, investigation, and action. The camp nurse
is an excellent resource for the camp director and can be a valuable partner
in gathering information about incidents and accidents to fuel the entire
risk management process.
Camp incident reports
Some camp directors have established a procedure for capturing information
about incidents that occur at camp. This can also be a very valuable source
of information since these incidents are typically situations where events
did not go as planned, and except for good luck or quick thinking on someone's
part, probably would have resulted in accidents where someone was injured
or property was damaged.
Generally, these incident reports capture data about when the incident
occurred, including the time of day, and include the type of activity,
location of the incident, who was involved, age range of participants,
who was responsible, equipment in use and how it functioned, weather,
how safety issues/plans worked, and what happened. The objective of incident
reports is to identify the cause of the incident. They tend to be narrative,
take a 20/20, retrospective view, and provide some of the best opportunities
for learning. They also provide terrific material for in-service training
programs for staff during the summer.
Using the Data
Fortunately, today you don't have to be an actuary or a computer expert
to develop a database. Many user-friendly software programs are available
to help you organize the data and make some sense out of it. Chances
are someone on your staff or, for that matter, one of your campers has
the knowledge to help you create a database for incidents and accidents.
This could be a great project for someone during the off-season, too.
You can't manage what you can't measure
The objective of the process is to gather information over time, ideally five
or six years, to identify trends and patterns to help you manage, reduce
risk, and increase safety. The information can also help you make decisions
about deductibles, staffing, staff training, and even develop projections
about the number of incidents and accidents at your camp using simple mathematical
averages. Information about how many incidents and accidents have occurred
at camp can help you set goals for staff to improve upon next summer. It
will also increase staff awareness about safety because it will become part
of your culture. Develop your own report card, so to speak.
The risk management process is dynamic. This characteristic makes it
an ideally suited tool to help you manage. Over time, the people who
work for you change, as do the campers and the families they come from.
There is no better way to help you organize and manage change than this
process. Risk analysis is at the heart of the process. Make a commitment
to develop a database of incidents and accidents. Stick with it and over
time it will provide you with valuable insight about the claims patterns,
loss trends, and risk management issues at your camp.
Originally published in the 2000 July/August
issue of Camping