Risk Advisor, the Fund’s quarterly newsletter, provides a broad range of risk management information and brief reports on issues of current interest to members. Click on the links below to view past editions.
Nothing arouses passions in Texas more than water. As the old saying goes “whiskey is for drinkin’; water is for fightin’”. In the broad scope of things, the fights over water usually take place in courts or the legislature. Water rights, water availability, access to water, wasting water, and conserving water all can elicit vigorous and even violent responses. Sometimes a few of these fights make it to the local water district level but usually in board hearings about regulations or board actions like bid awards, permit applications, or eminent domain. These actions rarely result in real violence except, perhaps, verbally. However, water districts and authorities in Texas are not immune to workplace violence that can result in verbal abuse and physical attack.
Builders Risk insurance is a property coverage for buildings under construction. Builders Risk provides many of the same coverages that the Fund provides to the district’s or authority’s owned buildings. The coverage is usually provided on an “all risk except what’s excluded” basis so most of the perils that cause damage to property already constructed are also covered under Builders Risk.
Ransomware attacks are increasing in frequency, and the repercussions are growing more severe. Ransomware attacks cost companies billions of dollars a year. Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents you from accessing your computer (or the data that is stored on it). The computer itself may become locked, or the data on it might be stolen, deleted or encrypted. Some ransomware will also try to spread to other machines on the network, such as the WannaCry malware attack in 2017. An overwhelming majority of ransomware attacks now include a threat to publicly disclose stolen data if the ransom isn’t paid. This adds a second level of extortion as an attempt to guarantee that the ransom is paid.
Recently, there has been some union activity at entities in the risk pools. All governmental entities in Texas are exempt from the National Labor Relations Act and the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB). The NLRB also does not have jurisdiction over entities of local government or entities that do not engage in interstate commerce. See, 29 U.S.C. § 152 (2) and) (3) (defining “employer” and “employee” to exclude governmental entities and employees of governmental entities).
The winter storm of February 2021, which caused water damage to property for many of our members, highlighted the need to have a plan of action in place when it comes to hiring a water mitigation company. The sheer scope and breadth of that storm, which impacted the entire state of Texas, created unprecedented problems. Namely, the difficulty in finding available contractors due to the high demand for their services. Hopefully, that was a once in a lifetime event. Barring a statewide catastrophic event, it pays to know your water mitigation contractor before disaster strikes.
Supervising/managing employees can be a difficult task especially for water districts and authorities. Events of the past two years have complicated this even more. From hiring to termination, supervisors/managers have had to learn new practices and technology to survive in this new environment. Although some supervisors already managed remote field staff, the landscape of how we operate and supervise has changed for almost every leader.
Often our successes are dependent on our energy levels and our overall well-being, and our energy levels and well-being are contingent on how well we treat ourselves. Have you set yourself up for success in the office? Are you taking care of yourself at work? Take a look around your workstation. Is it arranged to support neutral postures and good body mechanics? If not, you could be making yourself tired and wearing yourself out just sitting at your desk! Let’s talk about managing your workstation to your advantage.
A company’s safety culture is only as strong as the effort everyone puts into it. No one wants their employees to get injured but just hoping it does not happen is not enough. It starts with upper management’s commitment to the safety committee and their support of the safety committee. If the commitment is strong, the committee’s efforts will be strong, and you will see an improved safety culture. An effective safety committee can help create a safer work environment, improve communication on safety related topics, reduce lost time accidents, and raise employee morale.
To further assist Members of The Texas Water Conservation Association Risk Management Fund, the “Fund” is offering legal consulting assistance available to members of the Fund’s Liability Program. Members have access to attorney Joel Geary (and his designated partners) to ask legal questions on potential liability matters. This support is offered as a liability loss prevention measure. There is no additional charge to members to consult with Mr. Geary. This service is intended to complement, not replace, members’ local counsel.