Thursday, September 17, 2015

There’s An App For That! (Inspection Edition)

While in the field recently, one of our Loss Control Consultants came across an amazingly efficient way to track different inspections throughout the City.  The CityReporter App gives you access to a multitude of varied inspection checklists at the tip of your fingers on your tablet or smart phone.

The CityReporter App reduces the inspection paperwork and filing by automatically storing the inspection checklists, photos, and notes into a file in the cloud that can be accessed later by City personnel.  After the number of times during workshops that it has been mentioned that you need to document your inspections, there is finally an easy way to do this.
The CityReporter App has a wide range of inspection checklists preformatted and available for use.  If the App does not have a checklist suited to your specific needs, CityReporter gives you the capability to create a customized inspection form.  The pre-made checklists include parks, roads, facilities, pools, new construction, fire and sport fields, to name a few.
The CityReporter App was developed with the assistance and advice of a number of municipal risk managers, playground inspectors, the director of the International Playground Safety Institute, road maintenance companies, building industry experts, fire officials and a host of other professionals.  This App makes it easy to keep up with the various inspections that the City’s should be performing on a regular basis and takes the paperwork out of the mix.
Currently in Minnesota, there are only a few cities using the App, however this number is expected to increase as word gets out on the ease of the inspection checklists.  Check out their website at CityReporter App for more information, a free demonstration and detailed information on the CityReporter Application.

By Tara A. Bursey

Friday, September 4, 2015

Restroom Access for Transgender Employees

Did you know there is a new Department of Labor (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) A Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers In addition to OSHA guidance for transgender employees and applicants, there are also a wide variety of federal laws to consider.  What's provided in your Public Works department?  

Liability lawsuits--Failure by the city to provide appropriate facilities, or failure of any employee to abide by the guidelines, poses risk for a liability lawsuit.  Applicable laws include sex discrimination protection under Title VII and the Minnesota Human Right Act.  Other federal regulations also apply including the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
What does OSHA have to do with it?  "Under OSHA’s Sanitation standard (1910.141), employers are required to provide their employees with toilet facilities. This standard is intended to protect employees from the health effects created when toilets are not available. Such adverse effects include urinary tract infections and bowel and bladder problems. OSHA has consistently interpreted this standard to require employers to allow employees prompt access to sanitary facilities. Further, employers may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of toilet facilities."

Starting the discussion  Perhaps you’ve already made your employees aware of the requirements.  If not you will need to make them aware of what is expected and what changes, if any, the city needs to make to restroom facilities. 
To simplify the discussion it’s helpful to start with understanding gender identity.  Here’s an excerpt from the OSHA Guide, an “estimated 700,000 adults in the United States are transgender—meaning their internal gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth (e.g., the sex listed on their birth certificate).
For example, a transgender man may have been assigned female at birth and raised as a girl, but identify as a man. Many transgender people transition to live their everyday life as the gender they identify with. Thus, a transgender man may transition from living as a woman to living as a man. Similarly, a transgender woman may be assigned male at birth, but transition to living as a woman consistent with her gender identity.”

What needs to be done--The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided some basic guidance about these requirements.  Access the link to the Guide above for information on Model Practices for Restroom Access for Transgender Employees.  Specifically “Many companies have implemented written policies to ensure that all employees—including transgender employees—have prompt access to appropriate sanitary facilities. The core belief underlying these policies is that all employees should be permitted to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity. For example, a person who identifies as a man should be permitted to use men’s restrooms, and a person who identifies as a woman should be permitted to use women’s restrooms. The employee should determine the most appropriate and safest option for him- or herself.

The OSHA's Best Practices Guide also provides options which employers may choose, but are not required, to use. These include: Single-occupancy gender-neutral (unisex) facilities; use of multiple-occupant, gender-neutral restroom facilities with lockable single occupant stalls.

 Regardless of the physical layout of a worksite, all employers need to find solutions that are safe and convenient and respect transgender employees.

Under these best practices, employees are not asked to provide any medical or legal documentation of their gender identity in order to have access to gender-appropriate facilities. In addition, no employee should be required to use a segregated facility apart from other employees because of their gender identity or transgender status. Under OSHA standards, employees generally may not be limited to using facilities that are an unreasonable distance or travel time from the employee’s worksite.
By Troy Walsh

Monday, August 31, 2015

Self Inspections

Inspecting the workplace for hazards is one method the city can use to comply with the following component of the Minnesota AWAIR program: “ the methods used to identify, analyze and control new or existing hazards, conditions and operations.” 

 The inspection process is a structured way to identify any hazards or deficiencies which could lead to an accident or injury.  These self-inspections should be part of the monthly safety committee activities. Start by developing a list of buildings, parks, and structures etc. to inspect, and establish an appropriate schedule for these inspections.  Then use an inspection tool to document the inspection results.  LMCIT Loss Control has several customizable examples of checklists to use for the inspection process.  Nearly all the items on the checklists have an underlying OSHA regulation. 

 A sub-group of committee members, typically two, conduct the inspections with the area manager and an employee representative.  Based on its findings, the inspection team and/or safety committee will develop a list of corrective actions to reduce and eliminate any unsafe conditions that were identified.  Ensure all hazards are corrected in a timely manner.  

Purpose of the inspection
  • Uncover unsafe conditions
  • Help promote the safety program to workers
  • Provide an additional set of eyes to identify hazards before an accident or injury occurs, and
  • Help promote and encourage self-inspection by line supervisors and employees
Preparation for inspections
  • People conducting the inspection must be informed, through training or hands on experience, about typical operations and potential hazards in the inspected area.
  • Determine which standards will apply
  • Define the work area and plan the inspection route
  • Review any previous inspections and results and look for any outstanding work orders
  • Make or obtain a checklist to document the findings.  This will serve as a guide for the inspectors. 
Conducting the inspection
  • Inspect while employees are working if possible
  • Stay focused and alert for hazards
  • Take notes of all hazards and unsafe practices
  • Check all areas
  • Be constructive and don’t place blame
  • Look for why conditions exist
  • Be advisory not argumentative
  • Discuss recommendations with supervisor or manager
  • Try to sell your recommendation and the importance of any corrections.
The OSHA regulations, despite popular belief, have been developed over time from industry experience, past injury data, hazard analysis and scientific testing. They are developed to reduce hazards and prevent both acute and chronic injuries. The following is by no means a complete list but is a sample of the inspection points and the related safety regulations.  These should be used as reference when conducting self-inspections.

By Paul Gladen

Self-Inspection Checklist and Related OSHA Codes


o   Fire exit doors do not operate                                     29CFR1910.37 (d) (2)

o   Two means of egress as required                                29CFR1910.36 (b) (1)

o   Exit routes free of obstruction                                    29CFR1910.37 (a) (3)

o   Locked exit door                                                        29CFR1910.36 (d)(1)

o   Exits route 28 inches wide                                     29CFR1910.36 (g) (2)

o   All exits marked with signs                                   29CFR1910.37 (b) (2)

o   All NON EXIT's labeled as such                            29CFR1910.37 (b) (5)

o   Direction signs to exits not marked                        29CFR1910.37 (b) (4)

o   Exit lights not illuminated                                      29CFR1910.37 (b) (1)

o    Exit letters should be six inches by 3/4 inch                               29CFR1910.37 (b) (7)

o    Emergency Action Plan                                                             29CFR1910.38 (b)


o   No ground fault circuit interrupters                                         29CFR1910.304 (b) (3)

o   Circuit breakers not labeled                                                     29CFR1910.303 (f) (1)

o   Grounding plug missing                                                          29CFR1910.304 (g) (5)

o   Ungrounded outlet                                                  29CFR1910.304 (g) (5)

o   Loose or broken electrical outlet                                             29CFR1910.305 (j) (2)

o    Exposed live wires                                                                   29CFR1910.303 (g) (2)

o   Flexible cords through doors/windows                                  29CFR1910.305 (g) (1) (iv) (c)

o   Temporary wiring used as permanent                                   29CFR1910.305 (q) (I) (iv) (a)

o   Overcurrent devices not accessible                                        291910.304 (1) (I) (iv)

o   Unused opening in box not closed                                         291910.303 (b) (7) (i)


o   Extinguishers mounted, accessible                          29CFRI910.157 (c) (1)   

o   Extinguishers fully charged                                     29CFR1910.157 (c) (4)

o   Extinguishers of the correct type                              29CFR1910.157 (d) (1)

o   Extinguishers within 75 feet                                     29CFRI910.157 (d) (2)

o   Extinguishers monthly inspection                             29CFR1910.157 (e) (2)

o   Extinguishers annual inspection                                             29CFR1910.157 (e) (3)

o   Fire alarms readily accessible                                    29CFR1910.164 (e)

o    Emergency phone numbers posted                             29CFR1910.165 (b) (4)

o   Flammable liquid storage                                          29CFR1910.106


o   Bulk combustibles in storage cabinet                       29CFR1910.106 (d) (3)

o   Combustibles in storage room                                  29CFR1910.106 (d) (3)

o    Flammable liquids in office                                      29CFR1910.106 (d) (5) (iii)

o   Hazard Communication Program                              29CFR1910.1200

o   Proper housekeeping                                             29CFR1910.141 (a) (3) (i)

o   Adequate toilet facilities                               29CFR1910. 141 (c) (1) (i)

o   Toilets with privacy                                      29CFR1910.141 l (c) (2)(i)

o   Adequate washing facilities                           29CFR1910.141 (d) (2) (iii)

o   Emergency eye wash station                          29CFR1910.151 (c)


o   Grinding wheel rest not 1/8 inch                       29CFR1910.215 (a) (4)

o   Tongue guard adjusted to 1/4 inch                           29CFR1910.215 (a) (9)

o   All wheels ring tested prior to mounting                            29CFR1910.215 (d) (1)

o   Lockout Tagout Program                                            29CFR1910.147

o   Machine guards in place                                  29CFR1910.212 (a) (11)

o   Eye and face protection                                   29CFR i910.133

o   Eyewash stations                                            29CFR1910.151(c)


o   Roof/pipe leaks – wet floor                                        29CFR1910.22 (a) (2)

o   Slip hazard/broken door                                              29CFR1910.22 (l)

o   Aisles clear and in good repair                                    29CFR1910.22 (b) (i)

o   Fixed Ladder over 20 feet without cage                    29CFR1910.27 (d) (l) (iii)

o    Guarding floor and wall openings                              29CFR1910.23


o   Gas cylinder caps in place                                  29CFR1910.253 (a) (2) (iii)

o   Gas cylinders marked                                        29CFR1910.253 (b) (1) (ii)

o   Gas cylinders 20 feet from combustibles             29CFR1910.253 (b) (2)(ii)

o   Acetylene cylinders stored upright                      29CFR1910.253 (b) (3) (ii)

o   Oxygen cylinders near oil or grease                    29CFR1910.253 (4) (i)

o   Oxygen cylinders separated from fuel                 29CFR1910.253 (4) (iii)


o   General Duty Clause                                                   PL 91-156

  o     Forklift Seat belt in use                                               General Duty Clause

o   Respiratory Protection when required                        CFR1910.134

o   Forklift Training                                                          29CFR1910.178 (1)

o   Record keeping                                                           29CFR1904

Monday, August 17, 2015

Water Utility- Help During Emergencies

The US Environmental Protection Agency has just released the Water Utility Response On-the-Go mobile website.  It is a web-based tool that helps utility and public works employees complete a wide range of critical activities during all stages of a water emergency.  Various expandable tabs allow employees to complete the following tasks on their mobile devices:
  • Track Severe Weather
  • Contact Response Partners
  • Respond to Incidents
  • Take Notes and Record Damage
  • Inform Incident Command
  • Additional Planning
You never know when a drinking water emergency or natural disaster affecting your city will knock at your door.  Now there is an on-the-go application to help guide the utility or city through the response.  EPA Water Utility Emergency Response On-the-Go
By Joe Ingebrand

Monday, August 3, 2015

Best Practices for Safety Committees

Did you attend the annual Loss Control workshops this spring?  Perhaps you attended the afternoon session on safety committees.  The League received a LOT of positive feedback on that session, along with requests to repeat the training in a local venue so more employees could attend. 

Those attendees that went on the off-site portion of the training said it was “a valuable learning experience”.  The league responded by adding four sessions to the fall workshop schedule and is in the process of applying for credits.  We've also included a hands-on session on Job Hazard AnalysisLunch is included.  Find out more and register online.  Class sizes are limited so hurry or all the seats will be taken! 

The role of a safety committee is vital—but can also be complex. Let us help you simplify it. Much like an apple is easier to eat when it is sliced into sections, so too is a safety committee easier to develop (and operate!) once it is broken down into its parts.
- See more at Best Practices for Safety Committees