Like many local governments, The Town of Herndon – up until December of 2019 – utilized staff from various positions throughout their organization to tag-team the duties associated with risk management.
In Herndon, finance managed property loss, human resources managed workers’ compensation claims, OSHA and safety training, while legal reviewed contracts and other matters.
All of that changed when Roxann Fox Simkins was hired in a newly created risk manager position in December 2019.
“The town has a good track record of maintaining a safe work environment for its employees,” said Tanya Kendrick, Herndon Director of Human Resources. “However, as risk awareness has increased, the need for a more proactive and comprehensive approach – beyond just compliance – became evident.”
The town was able to carve out the position after several department managers worked together to reevaluate vacant positions or merge current positions to fill this need.
While there are constants to this position, such as handling the town’s workers’ compensation and liability claims, the bulk of her tenure with the town has involved managing risk through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID has told many of us what tasks we must focus on,” said Simkins. “The town’s emergency action plan, the VOSH Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), and verifying compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders have been the focus over the past few months.”
Simkins said that is the nature of risk management.
“Each day brings something different, and happiness is being able to stick and move, pivot and shift.”
Simkins has spent much of her tenure ensuring the town met the VOSH ETS training requirements, as well as developing notification elements of the standard for contractors and tenants.
Since taking the position, Simkins has also focused on ensuring the town’s insurance needs are met. She credits this to her previous employment with GEICO.
“I’ve focused on making sure we’re collecting the appropriate Certificates of Insurance along with the corresponding endorsements,” said Simkins. “As well as verifying that our risk and exposure correspond with our level of coverage.”
Coming to the public sector from the private has not been without challenges, and Simkins has utilized the resources provided by VRSA to her advantage.
Simkins says VRSA staff are “partners in keeping Herndon and its residents safe.”
While she acknowledges that risk management has its share of administrative work, she relates this back to her ultimate goal.
“I can’t feel connected to a spreadsheet, but I can feel connected to the people that I get to help protect,” said Simkins. “That’s what it’s all about for me. Focusing on OSHA rules and regulations means focusing on people and keeping them safe. This is where I have found purpose in risk management – in safeguarding people.”
For more information on risk management and how VRSA provides more than insurance, visit: www.vrsa.us