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SWCD Risk Management Concepts
Individuals, small companies, corporations, and various types of governments assume risk when conducting business. Conservation districts, like any other entity, assume and expose themselves to certain types of risk while acting as a local unit of government, an employer, and in other roles they assume (landowner, contractor, etc,). Conservation districts can employ different techniques and methods to manage and reduce their exposure to risk.

The Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services previously distributed a handout “Managing the Rapids of Risk, Accessories for Protection.” Each conservation district should have a copy of this document in their office. The document provides information regarding:
  • The role and purpose of the risk management division
  • The Oregon Tort Claims Act
  • The state liability self-insurance plan and coverage limits
  • Self insurance policy exclusions
  • Risk management suggestions for conservation districts
Risk management must be an integral part of conservation district activities. The strategies districts develop to minimize risk will help guarantee continued operations.

Policies and procedures
A common way to reduce and/or transfer risk is to develop and adopt district policies and procedures. Policies and procedures are the self-imposed written rules and processes under which the district directors, staff, and volunteers operate. Policies and procedures should be developed for many areas of district operations. Some areas to consider include:
  • Personnel management
  • Financial management and budgeting
  • Sexual harassment prevention
  • Equipment and vehicle use
  • Ethics and conflict of interest
  • Roles of directors, officers, and volunteers
  • Entry onto private property
  • Public contracting
  • Parliamentary procedure and meeting management
  • Public records requests
  • Communications
  • Agreements
  • Fund raising
  • Campaigning
  • Safety
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Drug and alcohol use

Insurance coverage
All conservation district directors, associate directors, employees, and volunteers are provided tort liability coverage under the state’s self-insurance program. The Oregon Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Program pays the required premium to the state’s Risk Management Division for this coverage.

State insurance coverage

Other source of information
Chapter 4 of the Oregon Soil and Water Conservation District Guidebook provides information on the following topics relating to risk management and insurance.

Definition of a tort
Insurance coverage for district-owned vehicles
Use of personal vehicles for district business
Use of state or federally owned vehicles
Leasing and renting vehicles
Licensing and use of “E” plates
Commonly asked questions relating to insurance coverage