Safety First: SCAC Insurance Trusts Celebrates Counties’ Dedication to Risk Management

Representatives from Dorchester County accepted the award for Most Improved County during the 2024 SCAC Risk Management Awards ceremony.
Representatives from Dorchester County accepted the award for Most Improved County during the 2024 SCAC Risk Management Awards ceremony. Dorchester County also received a Sustained Excellence Award and an Outstanding Achievement Award they shared with Colleton County for their innovative collaboration on the "Splash Into Safety" education program for children in rural areas.


Members of the SC Counties Insurance Trusts met recently to share important information to help mitigate risk in counties across the state and to award those counties that have demonstrated outstanding achievements in safety and risk management.

Jeff Birnbach and Matt Meade deliver a presentation on improving cybersecurity.This year’s meeting featured an eye-opening presentation on cybersecurity from Jeff Birnbach, managing director at Sylint, and Matt Meade, an attorney with Eckert Seamens. The two shared tips to help county employees recognize social engineering schemes and warned against the impulse to become “data hoarders.”

“Reduce the threat landscape. Don’t allow data to sit around for years unsecured,” Meade cautioned.

Joanie Winters of the Winters Law Firm then shared insights to help county employees navigate labor laws, which included a breakdown of workers’ compensation law.

SCAC this year recognized more counties than ever for their dedication to risk management and the safety of their communities.

“This year, we’re honoring 14 counties for the innovative safety initiatives they’re implementing to keep county residents and employees safe. That’s twice as many counties as last year and the most we’ve ever had receive awards,” said SCAC Director of Insurance Services Robert Benfield. “These initiatives are often unseen and unsung, so we’re excited to shine a light on the important work being done in our counties.”

Awards are given each year to counties who have made significant achievements in their risk management and safety programs.

Barnwell County: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award

Barnwell County purchased personal voltage detectors for their first responders to alert them to potential voltage hazards in their proximity. The detectors are worn around the neck and are useful during storms, search-and-rescue operations, debris removal and vehicle extractions when overhead powerlines are likely to be downed and potentially hazardous. The county’s goal is to provide one voltage detector with every chainsaw deployed within the county. Funding has been secured, and the county plans to acquire 20 more detectors.

Berkeley County: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award; Sustained Excellence Award

The supply chain shortage of N95 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic forced many agencies to reevaluate their preparedness plans. Berkeley County has been proactive in their approach by supplying every ambulance with powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs). These respirators are reusable, easily disinfected and rechargeable. In addition, PAPRs require no annual fit testing, can be worn over facial hair and provide eye and face protection from blood and bodily fluids.

Berkeley County Safety Superintendent Josh Godin also received a service award during this year’s award ceremony. Godin was recognized for his willingness to share policies and procedures that have been developed by the county’s risk management department as well as information regarding Berkeley County’s in-house Commercial Driver’s License Training Program.

Colleton County: Sustained Excellence Award; Outstanding Safety Achievement Award (co-county recognition with Dorchester County)

Colleton and Dorchester counties’ Parks and Recreation departments collaborated on a program to provide access to water safety to children in rural areas who had never had a water safety lesson. The counties partnered with Colleton County School District, Dorchester County School District 4, Colleton Medical Center, Summerville Medical Center, and the Summerville Family YMCA. The “Splash Into Safety” partnership created a program to teach children water safety with the goal of preventing drownings, and 335 children participated.

Dorchester County: Sustained Excellence Award; Most Improved County; Outstanding Safety Achievement Award (co-county recognition with Colleton County)

In addition to the “Splash Into Safety” initiative, Dorchester County was recognized during this year’s Risk Management Awards for efforts to reinvigorate the county’s risk management program. Through rigorous review and revision of their safety and health policies, procedures and training, Dorchester County has consistently lowered its modifier rate over the past four years. The county is currently experiencing its lowest modifier rate in more than a decade.

Georgetown County: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award

Georgetown County Risk Management developed a two-phase Heat Stress Prevention Campaign modeled after OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Program. The first phase of the county’s campaign involved increasing awareness of heat illnesses and of what symptoms employees should be aware of. OSHA heat illness prevention tips were used to develop a standard operating policy. Laminated copies of the approved policy were distributed to all county departments and placed in county trucks.

Field training was provided to employees working outside in the heat, and employees reviewed heat illness symptoms. Employees also were given cooling cloths, sunscreen, water bottles and SPF lip balm to help protect them while working in the heat.

The county Recreation Department purchased an ice pack vest for the employee wearing the Forrest the Squirrel mascot costume, and the Facility Services Division purchased pop-up canopy tents for employees to put up while working on the rooftops during summer months.

Florence County: Service Award

Florence County Risk Manager Holley Laycock received a service award this year for the assistance she provided since taking on the role of risk manager.

Greenwood County: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award

Greenwood County Fire Services purchased mobile heavy vehicle lifts for servicing, conducting maintenance and inspecting fire apparatus. The fire service previously used floor jacks and jack stands, which prevented the vehicles from being lifted high enough to avoid awkward body positions and having employees working while lying on their backs. The lifts provide a more effective and efficient way to perform routine tasks on fire apparatus without creating undue musculoskeletal stress and strain.

Horry County Solid Waste Authority: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award; Sustained Excellence Award

Horry County Solid Waste Authority was experiencing multiple gas wells being damaged on a weekly basis by off-road trucks, compactors and large grass-cutting equipment. The team installed flashing lights and placed reflective barrels at each gas well location to assist in visibility for the operators during day and night operations. There have been no incidents of damage to any gas wells since the installation of the barrels.

Horry County: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award; Sustained Excellence Award

In addition, Horry County Public Works purchased a trailer to use as a mobile training unit (MTU), which was a more cost-effective option compared with a custom-order mobile classroom. The MTU has been outfitted to be comfortable in all weather conditions and is powered by generator. The MTU allows Public Works to carry the classroom to their satellite offices, job sites and other locations where there are no AV training capabilities. Crews no longer need to shut down job sites and commute to a training site. The MTU has the added benefit of being capable of serving as a mobile command unit in the event of a major storm or other emergency.

Lancaster County: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award; Sustained Excellence Award

Lancaster County implemented the Community Response to Active Shooting Events (CRASE) initiative in their community to prepare employees and residents in the event of a threat in the workplace or community. The CRASE program gives community members and personnel a realistic idea of what happens during a high-stress event. CRASE is taught through Homeland Security and the State Law Enforcement Division, and classes for Lancaster County were offered at the County Administration Building and the Parks and Recreation Department.

Lexington County: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award

Lexington County’s Risk Management team issues an annual report summarizing the types of injuries occurring throughout their department. EMS was able to use the data in this report to identify recurring injuries and find a solution to reduce the occurrence of those injuries.

EMS identified back and shoulder strains and were able to attribute the cause to EMTs and paramedics having to lift and carry large, bulky equipment bags. The department found a more ergonomic solution in a backpack-style equipment bag, which allows for proper weight distribution that minimizes stress on the back and shoulder. These backpacks also have lumbar support, helping EMTs and paramedics maintain healthy posture while working.

Since implementing the new backpack-style equipment bags, EMS has not reported any injuries relating to equipment carry.

Richland County: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award

Richland County expanded their Safety Week to a full month of events to coincide with National Safety Month in June. Over the course of 21 working days, the Richland County Risk Management team conducted 28 training sessions, which totaled more than 50 instructional hours for more than 700 attendees.

During the month, they also conducted seven drop-in events across the county to train on topics including electrical safety, heat safety and personal protective equipment. These events were a prime opportunity to share vital information and to provide items like hydration popsicles, safety glasses, gloves, cooling cloths and first-aid kits.

The expanded safety training sessions and events allowed Richland County to reach more than 1,000 employees face to face. These efforts sparked additional interest, and the county has received requests for more training and safety assistance from different departments.

Spartanburg County: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award; Sustained Excellence Award

Spartanburg County’s Risk Management Department set a priority of becoming more visible throughout the county in 2023. A new initiative allowed the county to reach around 1,600 county employees through a column in their biweekly newsletter. The department’s “Safety First” column focuses on safety-sensitive topics from slips, trips and falls to First Amendment auditors.

The column encourages feedback and promotes safe working practices. The column recently addressed active shooter scenarios and resulted in two in-person training sessions on the topic. More than 120 county employees participated.

Sumter County: Outstanding Safety Achievement Award

Sumter County recently implemented the Rave Panic app, which allows county employees to activate a “panic button” through the app via their mobile phone or computer in the event of an emergency. The application notifies emergency services and law enforcement to send proper authorities to the scene. It also notifies other county employees of the situation.

The Rave Panic app has been added to county computers, and employees were given the opportunity to download the app to their mobile devices at no personal expense. The app can also be used to send notifications to county employees for other emergency scenarios or if county offices were to close for some reason.

SC Counties Property & Liability Trust Lag Time Awards

                Saluda County: 1.1 days

                Abbeville County: 1.27 days

                Greenwood County: 2.26 days

SC Counties Workers Compensation Trust Lag Time Awards

                Chesterfield County: .24 days

                Colleton County: .34 days

                Spartanburg County: .38 days

SC Counties Workers Compensation Trust Experience Modifier Awards

                Fairfield County: .55

                Clarendon County: .57

                Edgefield County: .58

Find more information about the Risk Management Awards categories and criteria here.