NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS OFTEN SPARK an urge to lose a few pounds, kick a bad habit or get more exercise. However, New Year's resolutions do not need to be strictly reserved for individuals.

Waste businesses also may be inspired by the fresh start that a new year offers and set out to make a few changes in how they do business. A renewed commitment to finding, implementing and improving a firm's risk management practices, for example, may be a resolution well worth keeping.

There are many ways that a waste firm can reaffirm the effort it puts into risk management. Here are a few things to consider.

Shake off complacency

Complacency can be a grave danger to any business, and it can easily set in. When things are going well, it may be difficult to imagine that something could go wrong. However, a firm is most vulnerable when it is lulled into a quiet state of security. Small changes that result from process improvement, re-engineering and ongoing employee training can keep a firm on its toes and lead to breakthroughs that enhance old processes.

Renew your commitment to employee training

Any employee's actions can become liabilities. It is important to provide proper equipment and training. Insurance companies often offer risk control information and training to help their customers develop employee programs to control day-to-day operational risks.

Vow to look for improvements

Effective risk management requires a commitment to continuously seeking ways to minimize exposures as they are uncovered. Procedures — recordkeeping, personal safety equipment, material handling, disposal practices and reporting procedures — need to be part of day-to-day operations. Risk management is an ongoing process.

Get re-acquainted with your insurance coverage

Every business should be familiar with the terms and conditions of its insurance policies and understand how its coverages will work in various situations. Because so much can change in a business during any year, it is important to consider how any changes may affect a company's insurance protection.

Commit to communication

Smart and open communication has many benefits. Communication breakdowns, on the other hand, present a host of risks to a company and potentially affect employees, shareholders, government agencies and customers. Sometimes even the smallest communication can make a big difference in preventing a future problem or dispute. Feedback, for instance, can encourage good behavior and result in a more motivated project team. In the event that an employee does something wrong, constructive feedback is necessary to get workers back on track. Customer relationships also rely on effective communication skills.

Be more prepared

Despite the best precautions, accidents can and do happen. Businesses need to be in a constant state of readiness for any potential incident. That means preparing emergency response plans under different scenarios and properly communicating the plans to employees. Again, because business situations can change rapidly, it is important to frequently evaluate emergency response plans to assure their effectiveness.

The active and aggressive management of potential exposures is a critical component of an effective risk management plan. As the new year begins, there is no better time for waste firms to make a risk management resolution to be active and more aggressive in managing potential exposures.