Conference contributes to building a culture of safety in construction
by Kathy Wells
December 2, 2016

The International Risk Management Institute Inc., now known throughout the industry as IRMI, was founded in 1978 with the main purpose of providing education, by way of seminar and print publication, to risk managers, insurance agents/brokers, underwriters and other insurance professionals.

At the time, IRMI published quarterly supplements, originally stored on loose-leaf paper in three-ring binders, and has continued to build its reference library over the years. Today, IRMI’s educational content has reached more than 75,000 pages and is available to subscribers through its online platform, IRMI Online, and its e-newsletter, IRMI Update. IRMI also publishes a library of free content for risk professionals available at irmi.com.

In the early 1980s, IRMI scaled back its seminars to focus on hosting a national conference. In 1982, IRMI kicked off its first conference for industry professionals who manage or insure construction risks, now called the Construction Risk Conference (CRC). This year’s conference, the 36th CRC, drew over 2,000 construction risk and insurance professionals to Orlando, Florida, from November 6-9. This CRC featured three general sessions and 27 seminars presented by more than 60 nationally recognized insurance, risk management, safety and surety experts.

Who's Hoo

The owl, featured prominently throughout IRMI’s logo and conference materials, represents the insurance and risk management wisdom the organization provides. With this wisdom as the focus, conference staff and presenters engaged attendees with education, offering bonus resources, presentation materials, networking events and a notably increased social media presence.

Contracting companies of all sizes were well-represented, sending their risk, insurance or safety managers to take part in IRMI educational resources—to the tune of 2,000 total attendees. Nearly one-third of attendees were contractors and construction firms; approximately one-fourth were agents and brokers; another fourth were insurers; and the remaining attendees were comprised of architects, engineers, lawyers and consultants.

CRC attendee Cornel Pendergrass is the vice president account executive at Conner Strong & Buckelew in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which has sent a company representative to the CRC every year for that past 5 years. “The goal [this year] was to see where the insurance construction marketplace is headed and also to hear what’s new,” said Pendergrass. He gained some additional ideas from a session regarding the importance of mentoring.

Two-time CRC attendee Carrie Gentile is a senior account manager at Assurance and found even more value in this year’s sessions than in previous years, namely the sessions on OCIP versus CCIP and joint ventures.

Now Trending

Overarching themes of safety and security stood out, addressing emerging trends in technology, such as wearable tech, and growing risks around drones and cybersecurity. All general session speakers and panelists focused on the importance of having culture of safety. According to IRMI President, CEO and Conference Cochairman Jack Gibson, other trending topics included onerous contract provisions, OCIP versus CCIP, managing drone risks and additional insured coverage.

IRMI Director of Marketing Amanda Beasley said a number of sessions stirred debate and discussion among attendees. “It’s in those moments that we know we’ve done what we are supposed to do by bringing the right people together with the right topics,” said Beasley. “Even with discussion boards, social media and video conferencing, nothing outweighs the experience of face to face, hallway conversations.”

Addressing the increasingly discussed topic of suicide prevention, IRMI presented the Gary E. Bird Horizon Award to the Construction Subcommittee of the Workplace Task Force; National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The committee developed and implemented the award-winning “Breaking the Silence: Suicide Prevention in the Construction Workplace” program to address mental health and suicide prevention in the construction industry.

With election day taking place during the conference, concern and discussion regarding the next president-elect carried weight throughout all sessions and conference events.

However, in the closing general session, FMI Chairman Hank Harris delivered a generally positive trajectory concerning the construction economy, noting that construction added 219,000 jobs over the past year, and gave attendees a hopeful outlook on continued growth in the coming months.

The 37th CRC will be held November 5–8, 2017, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Visit www.irmi.com/conferences/crc.