This year’s County Management and Risk Conference was held virtually on April 8,
covering topics ranging from how law enforcement personnel should handle being video recorded, to assessing service animal requests from employees.
More than 340 people signed up for the conference, which featured 14 sessions spread across an eight-hour day. Several sessions of the event were recorded, so that registrants can see what they missed. This year’s conference was the first in two years after the pandemic canceled 2020’s event.
“The Risk Management Pool and the Health & Employee Benefits Pool staff give members great education every day when we’re out in the field, but this is a good time for everyone to come together and learn about topics that we have found throughout the year are most important to our members,” said Michael Shannon, Director of Risk Management Services. “We had some great speakers internal and external. It was just as great as previous years.”
The conference attendance was smaller than in previous years, which have been three-day events and offered nearly twice as many continuing education hours — 12 hours in the past versus 6.5 hours from the most recent event.
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions in Round Rock will serve as the setting for the conference in 2022. “There is no such thing as a best kept secret, so my hope is that our members came away from the conference saying, ‘I didn’t know that,’ or ‘I learned something today,’” said Brian Naiser, Financial Manager for Health and Benefits Services. “It also serves as an open invitation to have our consultants come out and talk more about anything they heard during the conference.”
Here are some lessons learned from a few of this year’s sessions:
- COVID-19 response: Those covered by TAC Health & Employee Benefits Pool (TAC HEBP) plans have not had to pay for COVID-19 testing, treatment or vaccinations. The Pool also sent personal protective equipment to member counties. Through January 2021, TAC HEBP paid out more than $1.6 million after more than 18,000 claims were filed for COVID-19 testing; about 30% of Pool members were tested with a 13% positivity rate. The Pool also covered more than $9 million in COVID-19 treatment for covered consumers, about 3% of total paid claims for a typical year.
- Video recording and law enforcement: Court rulings have determined that the First Amendment protects the right of the public to record officers, but officers can seize someone’s phone with a search warrant and probable cause. Officers should record all traffic stops, foot pursuits, arrests and seizures of any evidence, among other activities. Officers, however, should not record encounters with undercover officers or confidential informants. Recordings of juveniles should not be released to the public. Social media has put law enforcement activity under intense scrutiny, which can affect officer recruitment and retention.
- Service animal requests in the workplace: Service animals may be a reasonable workplace accommodation under law. Service animals are dogs and miniature horses that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Employers must prepare staff and supervisors for such accommodations when they arise.
- Maintaining a healthy environment: Environmental workplace hazards include poor air quality, asbestos, mold, noise and poor ergonomics. Such dangers can lead to illnesses, such as asthma, hearing loss and muscular-skeletal disorders, that can lead to absences, lower productivity and higher coverage costs. Employers can avoid issues by staying updated on environmental issues, conducting regular inspections, training employees on hazards, taking seriously employee complaints of illnesses, and contacting experts.