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Many risk managers say their most valuable tool on the Internet is a risk and insurance bulletin board called RISKWeb.
Other useful World Wide Web sites include those provided by state governments and federal agencies, sites offered by organizations or universities, and sites maintained by news providers, according to risk managers.
Risk managers also like the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.'s home page, which is undergoing enhancements (see story, page 17). Few risk managers said vendor-provided Web sites are useful.
RISKWeb is an electronic bulletin board that allows people around the world to discuss risk and insurance issues by posting electronic mail messages to each other.
Discussion topics range from corporate risk management to underwriting to insurance solvency and regulation. Online submissions to RISKWeb are posted on the Web site and also redistributed to subscribers.
As of late November, RISKWeb had about 2,300 subscribers around the world. People interested in joining RISKWeb can send a message saying "join riskweb" to firstname.lastname@example.org. or access the Web site at http://www.riskweb.com.
RISKWeb is a free service offered by Ins-Web Corp., a technology company in San Mateo, Calif.
RISKWeb is "the place to go to get the most recent, the most professional, the most useful information," stated Dale Adams, supervisor of risk analysis for Staffing Resources Inc., an Irving, Texas, temporary staffing company.
"I've been to just about every risk management-related site out there, and 99% of them I haven't been back to a second time because there's just nothing there of interest," Mr. Adams said.
Janna Maxey, risk manager for the Baptist Foundation of Arizona in Phoenix, agreed that RISKWeb is her favorite risk management-related Web site.
"It's really been invaluable," she said. "I'm just finding all kinds of people I can go to to ask advice. I'm actually learning new things on a daily basis."
RISKWeb is "like having a reference library but with real people to talk to," commented Heidi M. Vulcano, director of risk management and employee benefits for New York-based Alper Holdings USA Inc., a privately held holding company.
Ms. Vulcano also cited RISKWeb as her favorite risk management-related site on the Web.
"It's really amazing when you can put that many heads together and see all the different sides of an issue," she said.
RISKWeb is "sort of like a support group for risk managers," Ms. Vulcano commented.
Several risk managers also have high praise for government-sponsored Web sites.
Federal government Web sites that risk managers said are particularly helpful include those provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (http://www.osha.gov) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov).
Both sites offer statistical information that can be useful in benchmarking and for comparison purposes.
An easy way to access federal government Web sites is through a free service called the Federal Web Locator, offered by the Villanova University's Center for Information Law and Policy.
The Federal Web Locator (http://www.law.vill.edu/fed-agency/fedwebloc.html) bills itself as "one-stop shopping for federal government information on the World Wide Web."
The Federal Web Locator home page offers links to every branch of the federal government, all federal agencies and departments and numerous other government and quasi-government sources.
Risk managers said state-sponsored Web sites also are quite useful. These Web sites generally offer summaries of legislation that has been passed and legal decisions in the state.
The quality of state-sponsored Web sites varies, risk managers agreed. "You have to be willing to explore the Web site" for a while to find the information you need, Ms. Vulcano advised.
An easy way to access state government Web sites is through a free service offered by the Library of Congress. This site (http://lcweb.loc.gov/global/state/) offers meta-indexes for state and local government information, including links to numerous state-related organizations, state maps and each state.
Clicking on a particular state leads to more information, such as the state's home page and links to each branch and department in the state government.
Two state-sponsored Web sites risk managers mentioned as particularly helpful are those of California and Texas.
Risk managers also seem to like Web sites sponsored by organizations.
For example, the National Safety Council's Web site (http:www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/statlink.htm) is useful and has extensive links to other sites that provide injury statistics, noted James R. Brittle, risk manager for LaRoche Industries Inc., a chemical manufacturer based in Atlanta. Mr. Brittle said he uses statistics gleaned from these sources for benchmarking purposes and statistical comparisons.
University-sponsored Web sites also can be good sources of specialized information, risk managers said.
For example, Tampere University of Technology in Finland has a site called OSHWEB (http://turva.me.tut.fi/oshweb/) has valuable information for risk managers with multinational operations, Mr. Brittle said. This site provides global coverage of safety issues for many industries, he said.
The civil engineering department of Canada's Carleton University offers a Web site (http://civeng.carleton.ca/cgi-bin2/quakes) that has nearly real-time information on earthquakes around the world, Ms. Vulcano pointed out.
Web sites sponsored by trade publications also offer useful information, several risk managers said. In addition to articles, often these sites have links to other useful sites, according to risk managers.
Web sites also are a good way to get ideas from peers, one risk manager noted.
Betsy R. Kutska, executive director of the Park District Risk Management Agency, an insurance pool based in Wheaton, Ill., said she looks at Web sites provided by other intergovernmental pools for ideas and to find out what they are doing.
"I could spend all day on (the Internet), but I have to get work done, too," Ms. Kutska commented.