Audit Finds Portland Safety Practices Need to Improve

September 1, 2017

An audit recommends the city of Portland improve the way it promotes safety after it was hit with more than $18 million in legal payouts from 2012 to 2016.

Cases against the Oregon city included workers getting injured, city vehicles hurting people or damaging property and discrimination complaints filed by employees, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Although Portland’s risk management has spent nearly $16 million annually to help city bureaus lower injury rates, financial loss and liabilities, the audit found that it is not doing enough to prevent future injuries.

In the last four years, the number of worker injuries has jumped from 526 in 2012 to 605 in 2016.

The risk management division has not followed best practices for setting safety guidelines or shared information across bureaus that would help reduce accidents, prevent loss and protect city employees, according to the audit presented by Portland Auditor Mary Hull Caballero to the City Council on Wednesday.

It also found that the safety information has not passed through a required review by a Loss Control Advisory Committee composed of council members, the city auditor and other high-level city officials. Auditors found no records indicating that the advisory committee has ever come together.

“This risk management relationship with City Council is necessary to ensure that (the) council receives adequate information to make cost-benefit decisions about risk when setting priorities and adopting budgets,” the audit said.

In a written response to the audit, Portland’s Chief Administrative Officer Tom Rinehart, who overlooks the office responsible for the risk management, said his bureau will better adhere to city codes and improve how it provides information, consultation and support to bureaus.

Rinehart and City Risk Manager Kate Wood did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment on Tuesday.

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