Magazine article Risk Management

THE ADVANTAGES AND CHALLENGES of Online Loss Control

Magazine article Risk Management

THE ADVANTAGES AND CHALLENGES of Online Loss Control

Article excerpt

Have you ever asked an employee to show you a copy of your loss control program? If so, what condition was it in? Odds are, if it could be found at all, you got an out-of-date document, and that could cost you.

A possible solution is putting your loss control program online. The larger the company, the greater the advantages. Companies with limited worldwide loss control resources, substantial telecommuting and mobile workforces and significant exposure to ergonomic-related injuries are prime candidates. Those that already have an online presence, be it a Web site or an intranet, are already well-positioned to start the process.

Online Advantages

Online programs offer some obvious, and not so obvious, advantages over paper-based loss control manuals.

Real Time Access. Loss control programs are by nature fluid and evolving. Developments in safety-related technologies, changes in operations and regulations, and lessons learned from losses require continuous updates. Doing so in a paper manual requires multiple steps, each taking time and racking up expenses in paper costs and postage. Online changes, however, are made instantly, offering constantly updated information to employees.

A manual is only useful if employees review new materials promptly and replace pages or sections when necessary. In many cases, with paper-based manuals, this is delayed or never done at all. Information can be lost; outdated information could be used, resulting in an improper response when an event occurs. Plus, with the coming and going of employees and office moves, the right information may not end up in the right hands.

By contrast, updating an electronic loss control program asks nothing of the employee. Since old information is removed, there is less confusion. The information is always in the same place; it will be there when it is needed.

Cost Effectiveness. Although updating an electronic program is not cost-free, the expense can be a fraction of that for processing paper manual updates. Companies with existing intranets, an internal information technology staff and an up-to-date loss control paper program already have the infrastructure in place for an online program. For those without such existing assets, after initial online development, expenses are significantly less than those for paper manuals. Copying, mailing costs and the hours spent filing updates are eliminated.

Cost effectiveness can also include the advantage of proper response, i.e., the value of having the correct contact for an emergency, rather than the phone number of someone who is out of business.

Reducing Staff Wear and Tear. An online program can also reduce wear and tear on the risk management staff. By providing self-service access to extensive loss control materials, companies have been able to significantly reduce routine calls to their safety departments. When the basic program of one large financial services company went online, phone calls to the risk management staff for routine requests, such as certificates, of insurance, were reduced by more than 60 percent.

Information Searches: Most people who use the Internet are familiar with search engines. An electronic program with a search function greatly improves the employees' ability to find information quickly and efficiently. Since search engines can rank responses according to different priorities, employees can access the information they really need. Plus, when something is easy to operate, it is generally used more frequently.

Feedback. Employees using loss control information can give suggestions or point out inaccuracies to the risk management department at the click of a button. More eyes evaluating the program usually results in a better site. Employees also feel part of the process, and may be more confident that attention is being paid to the details of the program.

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