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Spotlight: Q&A with Risk Service’s Grace Crickette

If Grace Crickette stays up at night worrying about UC’s safety, it sure doesn’t show.

Yet as the University’s Chief Risk Officer, she oversees the 14-member team responsible for managing risks and protecting its 5,500 buildings, $19 billion in equipment and other assets, and a UC community made up of nearly 400,000 students, faculty and staff.

That’s a lot of responsibility: A major loss in any one of these areas would be a huge blow to the University.

Crickette knows that it’s much more effective to prevent something bad from ever happening than to deal with the aftermath. In fact, evidence shows that businesses typically save $3 for every $1 spent on safety.

Crickette went one-on-one with Link to talk about UC’s risk management program and some upcoming security changes in UCOP’s Franklin Building.

How does Risk Services benefit the University?
Unplanned incidents and losses are costly. Although the loss of some assets can be absorbed by our budgets, incurring a major loss or multiple small losses can jeopardize operations. Our team has the job of minimizing these costs and disruptions, especially in this time of budget constraints.

How do you work with the campuses?
Our team focuses on enabling all faculty, staff and students to identify and manage their risks. UCOP has 14 people in our Risk Services office and each campus and medical center has a dedicated Office of Risk Management that works to implement our programs at their location.
Each year, we have a Risk Summit where hundreds of people from around the system come together to discuss the management of risk. We use the time to educate and train individuals, give updates on risk management issues, share loss control and loss prevention ideas, and promote Be Smart About Safety initiatives. We discuss everything from safe driving and sports safety to radiation, student affairs security and systemwide risk management.

Are any big safety initiatives underway focusing on UCOP?
Though smaller, OP is just like a campus or medical center and we have many of the same types of risks. One such risk is security. In 2009, we had a group of external security experts look at the security systems at UCOP’s Franklin building. We plan to use funds from the Be Smart About Safety program to implement their recommendations. Staff will hear more about these enhancements in the next month or so.

Should staff be worried about our current security system?
We don’t need to be worried about the security systems we currently have in place, but we should be cautious. There have been some security breaches in the past that we need to address. And like most big cities, the Bay Area has a history of violence in the workplace. You might recall the shootings at 101 California Street in 1993 where a man entered an office building and killed eight people. UCOP isn’t immune to individuals wanting to do harm and we have a duty to provide appropriate security to keep our staff, faculty, students and assets safe.

How has Risk Services been affected by budget cuts?
President Yudof has advocated that in these difficult times, we can’t reduce our commitment to safety. It’s important to continue investing in safety so we don’t find ourselves in a position that jeopardizes current and future operations.

What is the Be Smart About Safety program all about?
Each year Risk Services allocates a small amount of its budget to fund proactive loss prevention and loss control projects at the campus and medical centers. This funding is intended to minimize the frequency and severity of losses related to workers’ compensation claims for workplace injuries, and other programs designed to prevent injuries to students and the public.

The program was implemented in 2006, and since then it has shown significant cost savings for the campuses that use the funding. Systemwide, the largest categories of BSAS expenditures are usually devoted to preventing workplace injuries through things like continuing lift team programs in medical centers, purchasing ergonomics equipment, and hiring dedicated Environment, Health, and Safety staff devoted to promoting employee safety.

Has your office been involved with students, faculty or staff in Haiti?
Yes. We have a travel assistance and insurance program, and we successfully helped two students get out of Haiti safely. We also expanded this program to cover relief and rescue workers and volunteers affiliated with UC. Additionally, we sent supplies that were surplus from our H1N1 preparations.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
At the heart of our mission is the safety and security of UC’s greatest asset – its people. I invite all UCOP staff to visit our website at www.ucop.edu/riskmgt/ to learn more about our programs.


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  1. Emily February 2, 2010 Reply

    Risk does not only include personal safety from possible perpetrators of crime. It also includes safety from a building with undue pressure caused by rumblings; open overhead bins with NO earthquake safety bars; running in the halls (sound familiar?); not carrying heavy objects safely; taking computer breaks, etc.

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