Saving Your School Money Through Health Risk Management

posted Jul 20, 2011, 9:56 AM by Todd Fox   [ updated Aug 11, 2013, 7:27 PM ]

How can health risk management help your school (or home) save money?  Every year, schools lose money, time and effort by failing to educate teachers and students adequately about health and hygiene.  Schools are hotspots for illnesses and diseases spread by bad hygiene, sick students/teachers and lack of infection control.  How many absences per teacher does your school average?  How many absences per student due to illness does your school average?  How many days have been missed due to communicable disease outbreaks?  These and other health related questions are important because they COST MONEY.


Here are some examples how health issues can cost a school money.  With the assumption that time equals money, many hours each year and for each class are spent providing make-up work or reviewing what was missed by a substitute.  In addition, finding substitutes costs money and substitutes can disrupt the learning rhythm of your students.  Next, outbreaks can lengthen the school year depending of the amount of days excused.  In addition, finding solutions for the outbreak can be costly and ineffective (environmental cleaning costs, PR costs, claims, defense costs, etc.).  Schools save money when they stay on schedule, have few classroom disruptions and avoid having to cancel class for outbreaks.


So, how can health problems be avoided?  From a risk management standpoint, there are basically three ways you can respond.  First, you can do absolutely nothing and live with the consequences as they arise.  This is usually not recommended (but is the norm) because of the lack of control and eventual liability involved.  This can be the costliest option since negligent claims can cost millions of dollars.  Communicable disease outbreaks (flu, measles, lice, SARS, MRSA and others) can also be very embarrassing for a school or class.  No one wants to be plastered in the local or national newspapers/nightly news.


Second, you can have processes set up to diminish consequences as they arise (good substitutes ready to teach, good public relations for outbreaks, fast reporting, school nurse help, good insurance policies, etc.).  This option is appealing since costs are usually only incurred after an issue occurs.  However, taking care of problems or “putting out fires” can be a daunting task for teachers and school administrators.  In addition, infections and communicable diseases often cycle unless they are taken care of properly.  You are always behind the ball and always feel like you’re catching up to reduce negative consequences.


Finally, you can implement prevention trainings and processes to decrease the amount of health issues that arise.  Prevention usually requires more time, effort and resources up front but turns out to be less expensive in the end.   A good prevention plan usually starts with a risk assessment to point out where there needs to be more training and control in reference to hygiene and infection control.  A risk assessment looks at the school demographic (economics, races, etc.), environmental cleaning resources, food services, school nurse set up, reporting, in-class education, assemblies, signage and so forth.  Next, prevention plans set goals of improvement, have measurable statistics and include infection control tools to implement for reduced health issues.  Finally, administrators, teachers and students need to be aligned in a way so everyone is working together (we call this the “OUTFOX mindset” where everyone is looking for ways to reduce illness and disease).


So, which option have you or will you take?   If you would like help with a risk assessment or other infection control plan, please contact us for ways to OUTFOX health risks in your school or home.
Todd Fox

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