Each year the Virginia Risk Sharing Association hosts four fall forums throughout the Commonwealth, bringing training and thought leadership on a variety of timely topics.
This year, due to COVID-19, these transitioned to virtual Fall Educational Forums, held this Wednesday and Thursday. Attendance for the four forums exceeded 260. Thank you to our attendees for participating during these challenging times of uncertainty and change.
Topics for the sessions included:
- Improvise, Overcome and Adapt: How VRSA Members Have Adjusted to COVID-19 and the VOSH Emergency Temporary Standard
- Dealing with Difficult Situations in the Current Environment: How Effective Communication Can Impact Outcomes
- Guess What is Coming Next? A Workers’ Compensation Legislative Update
- Insight: Introducing a Decision Support Application for VRSA Members
Panelists for the Improvise, Overcome and Adapt: How VRSA Members Have Adjusted to COVID-19 and the VOSH Emergency Temporary Standard presentation included Chesapeake Public Schools Risk Manager Lina Kennedy; City of Fredericksburg Risk and Safety Program Manager Jason Compton; City of Lexington HR Director Robby Bailey; and Town of Vinton HR Director Donna Collins.
Many have embraced staggered shifts, teleworking, communications, and infrastructure changes such as touchless faucets to address the challenges presented by COVID-19. The group also stressed the importance of focusing on mental health and utilizing Employee Assistance Programs.
- “We’ve insisted that our supervisors and directors and our field-level staff supervisors place an emphasis on EAP for employees. There’s been a big emphasis on supervisors and managers to engage employees and make themselves available.” – City of Fredericksburg Risk and Safety Program Manager Jason Compton
- “Staff are glad to be back and seeing the kids. They are taking all the necessary precautions and our custodial staff is doing a phenomenal job, before and after school and in between classes – and they put signs up this is a disinfected room, and that really helps.” – Chesapeake Public Schools Risk Manager Lina Kennedy
- “For those that didn’t have emails, like public works, we did toolbox talks. I was out and about the city every day talking to all the different departments and answering questions. Anxiety levels started to go down, and I think that’s because their questions were being answered.” – City of Lexington HR Director Robby Bailey
- With the CARES Act, we’ve been able to get partitions put up in the public works department for staff that interact with citizens and vendors. We’ve done the nanoseptic coverings on the door handles and the push bars, we’re going to be implementing that all the doors are motion-sensor activated, motion-sensor faucets and replacing furniture and other items with new ones that can be sanitized. Should something happen like this again, we’re better prepared as far as infrastructure goes.” – Town of Vinton HR Director Donna Collins
The big takeaway from the panel was that in spite of the many challenges that members are facing as a result of COVID-19, they are resilient.
“Through collaboration and innovation, they have been able to navigate the ‘rapids’ that this unprecedented pandemic has placed them in,” said VRSA Director of Education and Training Thomas Bullock.
View the recorded webinar here.
Through the Dealing with Difficult Situations in the Current Environment: How Effective Communication Can Impact Outcome webinar, presented by VRSA Director of Education and Training Thomas Bullock, the importance of communication skills, team building, group problem solving, empathetic listening and more were highlighted.
The webinar has been recorded and is available here.
Ralph Whitt with Whitt & DelBueno, PC presented on Guess What is Coming Next? A Workers’ Compensation Legislative Update, which addressed the impact of COVID-19 and teleworking on workers’ compensation, as well as legislative updates related to workers’ compensation regulations.
One of the biggest takeaways from this session is that the new Post Traumatic Stress Disorder statute (65.2-107) imposes specific provisions on employers of law enforcement officers and firefighters, including policies to be adopted on mental health access, peer support and training for resilience and self-care. These provision/polices must be in place by 1/1/2021.
The recorded webinar is available here.
The final presentation of the forums was given by VRSA Director of Member Services Marcus Hensel, who presented Insight: a strategic decision support application. This presentation explored the new Insight application launched between VRSA in partnership with City County Insurance Services (CIS), a pool in Oregon.
“Now is an outstanding time to make decisions that support strategic objectives and that consider governance, stakeholders and financial impacts during a time of budget shortfalls,” said Hensel. “The need for documentation and transparency has always been critical for public bodies, never has its significance been as front and center.”
The presentation is available online here.
Learn more about Insight in the video below.
“The fall forums have always been a time when we provided training to our members in a way that provided a great deal of member interaction,” said Bullock. “While we can’t have our traditional workshops this year, we felt it was important to continue with this tradition through these forums. With our member panel and timely presentations, we hope this provided some level of normalcy to our members this year.”