Video highlights the Town of Blacksburg’s risk management efforts

Risk management has a broad scope. It helps people and organizations address threats and optimize opportunities through both a managerial and decision making process.

For a town such as Blacksburg, the challenges of risk management change dramatically each fall and spring when the population doubles to more than 42,000 as students return to Virginia Tech.

In many cases, the town has worked closely with VML Insurance Programs (VMLIP) to bolster their risk management efforts.

“Our relationship [with VMLIP] has been positive with the training aspects, and having staff come in and give us an audit or safety review to help with things we aren’t aware of or on new risks,” said Town of Blacksburg Assistant Town Manager Chris Lawrence. “It enables us to have a checklist of problem areas and things we can make better with staff.”

The town has worked with VMLIP’s safety consultants, utilized VMLIP’s grant funding to bolster risk management efforts, and has utilized a variety of free training courses and materials to strengthen staff knowledge. Altogether, the town has integrated a risk management framework throughout their organization.

Utilizing grant funds, the town has been able to establish a bottom-up approach to identifying risks and hazards. By allowing all departments to request funding, the town is able to identify risks and needs early each year. It also allows risks to be prioritized when management determines which items to apply for.

This fall, VMLIP traveled to the town to document their risk management efforts – visiting staff from Blacksburg Transit (BT), public works, and police departments to learn about the efforts being made to manage risk.

From the BT’s “Cross Like” public awareness initiative and pilot Driver Assistance Systems program, to a watering truck designed to keep public works employees safe in the medians, to new vehicle markings on police vehicles to enhance their reflectivity and visibility, the town is approaching risk management in a holistic manner.

While the audio quality of subsequent video productions has improved, this video provides an overview of the enterprise-wide risk management perspective the town has embraced.