Strategy Demands Mark Changes for Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety Services
Strategic realignments for greater efficiencies and collaboration are being put in place in the cooperative areas of the Risk Management Department, Environmental Health and Safety Services Office and Emergency Management.
The changes come at a time to consider work processes and provide opportunities for growth among staff as a key staff member retires and a new resource is being added to assist in dealing with workers’ compensation, says David Pajak, director of risk management and chief emergency management officer at SU, who oversees all three areas.
“We’re rethinking customer service, our strategic direction and demands, and seeing how we can be more efficient and effective in managing risk,” Pajak says. “We’re also looking at providing staff the opportunity for growth.”
In their shared mission and vision, the three units are tasked with protecting the University’s people, buildings, finances, resources and reputation, helping it to meet its academic, social and economic goals. Staff members work with colleagues across campus in a variety of situations, which can range from assisting Athletics in emergency management planning at the Carrier Dome, to matters related to international travel and study abroad to procuring various types of insurances to protect the University’s assets.
Some of the changes are based in part on the upcoming retirement of Linda Egerbrecht, manager of insurance and claims, in the Risk Management Department. Egerbrecht, who is retiring in February and has been with the University for 22 years, leads the workers’ compensation program and manages the property and liability insurance program, among other work.
In her role with workers’ compensation, Egerbrecht manages claims management and works with employees who sustained a work-related injury to ensure they are getting the appropriate treatment and assist them in transitioning back to work when they are medically able. The number of claims can range from between 250-300 a year.
“Customer service is primary. We have the philosophy that we want to treat our people with dignity and when questions do arise, they know we are going to treat them fairly and in accordance with the law,” says Egerbrecht, who has been a longtime member of the New York Self Insurance Association, for which she was chair and vice chair at one time.
Egerbrecht has enjoyed her work helping people on their way to recovering. “When people have a medical issue, it’s nice to be part of the healing process,” she says.
Egerbrecht, who has two children with her husband, John, and five grandchildren, is looking forward to spending time with her family.
Pajak is appreciative of Egerbrecht’s service to the University and her integrity, professionalism and hard work. “Linda is the best in the business,” he says. “She is recognized as a leader in workers’ compensation in New York State.”
Egerbrecht also has a special rapport with the employees and supervisors she has worked with around campus. “They respect her and how she is always customer service-focused and fair,” Pajak says. “She had to deal with a few catastrophic claims over the years and when those things happened, she was able to coordinate care, making sure they had wage replacement and enabling them to eventually come back to work.”
Before Egerbrecht departs, Michaele DeHart will be promoted to associate director of risk and insurance. She will manage all property and casualty insurances, work with the General Counsel’s Office in reviewing contracts, and assess risk.
A newly created second position of associate director of claims has been filled by Christopher Richmond to manage the newly hired third-party administrator, PMA Management Corporation, for workers’ compensation among other duties. The third-party service will process and investigate internal claims effective Feb. 17.
“With Linda’s retirement, Syracuse University, as a self-insured employer, wishes to leverage its resources to continue to focus on effectiveness and efficiency in its workers’ compensation program administration,” Pajak says. “Outsourcing workers’ compensation claims leverages the University’s resources by having claims processing and investigations done by experts who have the human capital, skill sets and information technology. The University will then be able to focus more on overall workers’ compensation program management, regulatory changes, budgeting, safety prevention and service to employees who sustain an occupational injury.”
In the area of Environmental Health and Safety Services, Brian O’Hara and Brian Tarolli have been promoted to supervisory positions under John Rossiter, manager of the Safety Services Office. O’Hara is now assistant safety manager, along with retaining his title of health and safety specialist, and Tarolli is the fire and life safety supervisor. The five inspectors will report directly to either O’Hara or Tarolli.
Also, Chad Ames, formerly hazardous waste technician, is now environmental compliance program coordinator, working under Becky Ponza, environmental compliance manager, and James McCumber, director of environmental health services. In the same area, Allison Piccioni, office assistant, has been promoted to office coordinator.
“Looking at our strategy demands and service we decided to reorganize and promote within,” Pajak says. “These changes will not increase operational expenses and will allow for continuity of services and administrative efficiencies with our experienced, committed and knowledgeable staff members.”