to the real magnitude and diversity of
The fundamental difference
between disaster management and risk
management is that it is emergency
and recovery management. Effective
emergency management requires us
to pre-quantify and properly size all
potential damages, losses and post
Assessing the potential scale and
duration of needs before the return to
normalcy and reestablishment of basic
services is essential for meaningful
disaster planning and budgeting.
I see a need to better aggregate data
that measures true diversity of disaster
impacts to assist us in future planning.
I would like to see the development
of some form of universal disaster
index with clear classifications, which
has the means of describing disasters
in a multidimensional and unified
way. Only with that will insurers,
communities, responders, government
and the public really stand to gain. &
JOANNA MAKOMASKI is a specialist in
innovative enterprise risk management
methods and implementation techniques.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iwrite this column in a week following many serious natural disasters — Hurricanes Harvey and Maria and the
less discussed Hurricane Nate. It is the impact of Nate,
measuring and ranking one disaster
over another? Do we have a system
that can clearly paint a holistic picture
of the full range of impacts in a
Quick research seems to indicate
that we often rank disasters using three
metrics: number of fatalities, economic
loss and insured loss.
At first glance, these sole metrics
seem deeply inadequate to portray the
true impact of such natural disasters.
What of long term resultant
injuries, loss of uninsured habitat,
recovery ability and duration, total
population affected, gravity and
concentration of property damage,
crop destruction, and social damage?
There are so many other effects on
humans and the environment that are
critical to understand.
With hurricanes in the U.S.
accounting for about two-thirds of all
insured losses, we have done much in
the way of developing sophisticated
hurricane tracking and early warning
systems. Truly impressive feats.
This work in turn reduced the
number of fatalities and assisted in
much-improved evacuation planning
efforts. But it feels as if we are left blind
about 4 dollars per hour, so the idea
of buying insurance is a pipe dream
for most and considered a luxury item
for the wealthier. Replacing a basic
appliance such as a refrigerator will no
doubt be a deep financial struggle for
the average family and will likely take
a few years to repay or procure. It is
For this reason, I deeply took to
heart the words of President Trump
when he clumsily compared Hurricane
Katrina to Maria and stated one was a
“real” disaster as it had more casualties
than the other. As awkward as this
statement was, it did make me think.
Do we in our risk management
community have a consistent way of
specifically, that I feel personally. I
spend much time throughout the year
in the beautiful country of Costa Rica.
This week the tropical storm surges
of Nate caused many deaths and left
thousands of people, some of them
friends and neighbors, desolate.
As of today, many of my friends
are still without water, power, roads,
bridges and essential services. Rivers
exploded from flash flooding and
washed their homes and land into the
ocean in just a matter of hours.
Worse still, people had to sleep
in trees as to not to be eaten by
crocodiles, which are now swimming
freely in streets and back yards.
The average wage in Costa Rica is
BY ROBERTO CENICEROS
The National Milk Producers
Federation, for example, reports that
half of all dairy farm workers are
immigrants and losing them would
double retail milk prices, costing
the U.S. economy tens of billions of
Opposing their efforts are the anti-immigrant activists, like a radio host
who dismisses dairy industry concerns
over a tight labor market. Kick welfare
recipients off the public dole and they
will work dairy jobs, the radio host
“We are one of the few
organizations that is standing up
to [the anti-immigrant rhetoric],
advocating for immigration reform,”
Naerebout said. But quelling those
voices might prove even tougher than
mitigating workers’ comp losses.
“I am not sure there is anything
that would satisfy them,” Naerebout
ROBERTO CENICEROS is senior editor at
Risk & Insurance® and chair of the National
Workers’ Compensation and Disability
Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at
On one side stand anti-immigrant activists, some calling illegal immigrant workers rapists and
murderers needing instant deportation.
workers unfamiliar with the workplace.
“The labor market is tight, so you
increase your efficiency by keeping
your trained labor there — not by
having to bring in substitute labor or
temporary labor,” Naerebout said.
Productivity concerns are just one
reason dairy organizations increasingly
emphasize safety. They face intensified
scrutiny following serious accidents.
Skid loaders, used to move feed
and manure, can crush dairy workers.
Other employees drown in manure
pits. Did I mention these are dirty,
Workers get kicked by cows and
squeezed by their 1,500-pound mass.
To protect themselves, dairy farms, like
other employers, purchase workers’
Meanwhile, agricultural operations
view heightened anti-immigrant
rhetoric as a threat while dairy
associations lobby Washington for
“Those who lack proper
documentation — we feel obligated
to them, to try and get comprehensive
immigration reform that will provide
them legal status,” Naerebout said.
There are also public education
the association’s executive director.
“Anytime you have an employee —
and we consider all employees to be
key employees — absent from work,
that means you have to replace them
with somebody who is not as well
trained,” Naerebout said.
“There is an indirect cost in all of
Naerebout’s words should sound
familiar to employers across all
industries whose safety and disability
management programs have
increasingly become key to keeping
scarce, skilled workers on the job.
Savvy risk managers also know the
indirect costs resulting from worker
accidents and the increased injury
risks accompanying new, replacement
On the other side stands an
industry facing a tightening labor
market concerned about retaining
immigrant laborers, many lacking legal
work documentation yet skilled in
performing dirty, dangerous jobs.
That’s the situation facing the dairy
industry, a labor-intensive milking and
feeding business that helps sustain
the nation. It is a story that illustrates
employee safety and workers’
compensation themes as the industry
increases efforts to keep its scarce
workers on the job.
The Idaho Dairymen’s Assn., for
example, recently launched a safety
program that includes teaching
workers how to think like the animals
they work with, said Bob Naerebout,
BY JOANNA MAKOMASKI