Fairfax City Council has hired Vince Candida to investigate conditions that are potentially hazardous to city employes and the public and to assess how the city should protect itself against claims.

Candida was formerly the personnel and risk management director at Leesburg's Loudoun Memorial Hospital, and began his Fairfax job July 14. His position is part time -- three days or 25 hours a week. The salary is $19,864.

Candida is charged with monitoring the working conditions of city employes and acting to correct anything that might be considered hazardous. Candida will meet monthly with heads of the city's 10 departments to learn about employes' activities and make occasional spot checks of those departments.

Jack Byrd, executive vice president of the Insurance Advisory Service, a District consulting and risk management firm, says the primary function of a risk manager is to review and evaluate the city's exposure to economic loss and try to minimize that loss through transfer, insurance or self-insurance. "A lot of the coverage that is needed is not available in the general marketplace, or is available at extremely high prices. As a result, a lot of municipalities are going into self-insurance," Byrd said.

Natalie Wasserman, executive director of the Public Risk and Insurance Management Association (PRIMA), says the liability insurance crisis has hit municipalities so hard that many have to self-insure. "Self-insurance gives them a certain independence from the ups and downs of the insurance market."