Risk Management

by Allan Haggarty

Risk Management, or managing risk is about minimising danger. It is, of course, impossible to eliminate it. Two simple examples are not to cross the road against a red light and not to change a light globe before switching off the light. Common sense? Yes, but as one gets older, one can be easily distracted.

Organisations like U3As face risks, no matter what activities they engage in. Risk Management is about minimising or managing such risks.

We should all look at our various activities by putting ourselves in the shoes of a prospective member and methodically look at how we conduct those activities. For example, is there a mat at the front door of our premises and if so is it worn or uneven and likely to cause an unfamiliar person to trip or fall?

Is the door heavy or likely to swing back and push someone off balance? Are there any electrical cords on the floor that someone may trip over?

Do you serve a cup of tea? Is the receptacle for used tea bags at the end of the serving line or do members have to double back and risk spilling someone’s hot tea? Who operates the urn?

If you feel you’re too familiar with your environment, consider asking an independent perceptive person to come to a class to assist in noting potential problem areas.

Having identified some risks, how do we manage them?

Door mat. Consider replacing it, if it’s yours, or asking the building owner to do so and warn members in the meantime. A warning sign is best, to minimise the risk of members not being aware of the danger, though you should still point out the existence of the sign.

Heavy door. Consider chocking it open, or again, warning members.

Electrical cords. Consider appointing a member to be responsible for setting up electrical equipment and keeping cords out of harms way.

Morning tea. Consider appointing a member to operate the urn and to place tea bags, sugar, milk, urn and the receptacle for used tea bags in that sequence and encourage members to move well away from the area after being served.

Activities such as bush walking might require warnings about levels of fitness, terrain, duration of walk, inclement weather, appropriate clothing, sunscreen, insect repellent, mobile phone coverage, first aid and you may require participants to sign a disclaimer relieving the organisation of any liability. [An example of a disclaimer is included in the U3A ACT’s Newsletter, on the Travel Opportunities page: www.u3acanberra.org.au]

If your activities involve greater risks, eg a Men’s Shed, then obviously the scrutiny needs to be greater and again a disclaimer may need to be considered.

One more thing: CRISP’s policy imposes an obligation on U3As to take all reasonable care. So you should record risks you’ve identified and how you manage them. This amounts to having a Risk Management policy in place and should help your insurer in defending a claim. Otherwise you may be charged a higher premium or worse still, be told you won’t be covered.