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Working from home an emerging public entity risk: Expert

risk management

LONG BEACH, California — Future risk management challenges facing public entity risk managers include working from home, earthquakes and safe drinking fountains, says a risk manager.

Gary Rosenblum, associate vice president, risk management, at California State University, Sacramento, discussed these during a session on future trends in risk management at the Public Risk Management Association’s annual conference on Monday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration “doesn’t regulate the home workplace,” he said. People are putting in longer hours working from home, and they will become injured, he said.

“In the future, I think OSHA is going to wake up and try to do something about regulating home work,” Mr. Rosenblum said.  “You’ll find out that this is going to be a big topic and it’s going to be very hard to regulate.”

Mr. Rosenblum said technology has developed to the point where there can be some warning of an impending earthquake. Those who are 30 miles away get 30 seconds of warning, for instance, and those 60 miles away, a minute, he said.

California has handled the development by creating an earthquake warning system that sends messages to people’s cell phones.

But a better risk mitigation system for earthquakes is called for that would provide information that industry, hospitals and utilities could use, Mr. Rosenblum said.

“We could have every single elevator in the state of California have an earthquake protection connection,”  he said. When an earthquake is imminent, an elevator could stop at the next floor and open its door.

Showing a picture of an older water fountain, Mr. Rosenblum said it dispenses unsafe amounts of lead, “and someday, somebody’s going to test it and tell you you’re killing them with lead.”

Mr. Rosenblum said, “In order to get ahead of that curve … we ended up testing every single fountain on campus,” a total of 975.  They are tested every four years, and a sticker on each provides information on how little lead it dispenses.

“This is the future of water fountains, and if you are an entity that has a lot of water fountains, keep that in mind,” Mr. Rosenblum said.