Friday, June 24, 2016

Mosquito Transmitted Diseases- from Aedes to Zika!

While news of the Zika virus is currently flooding the airwaves, other mosquito transmitted diseases in Minnesota continue to be present.
According to the MN Department of Health, “local Zika virus transmission is not a concern to Minnesota residents since the mosquito species that transmit the virus are not established in this state. However, individuals who travel to affected areas may become sick and should either consider delaying travel (particularly for pregnant women) or follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list 19 cases of Zika Virus in Minnesota as of June 15, 2016, all of these cases are described as: Travel-associated cases. (i.e. Travelers returning from affected areas, their sexual contacts, or infants infected in utero.)
CDC’s maps indicate that mosquitos carrying the disease are limited to the Southern United states but could reach Southern MN.
 
 
 
Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections. (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html)
 
 
Mosquito Transmitted diseases in Minnesota
  • West Nile Virus (WNV)
    West Nile virus is a disease transmitted to people, horses, and birds. It is the most commonly reported mosquito-transmitted disease in Minnesota. Most people infected with West Nile virus show no symptoms or flu-like symptoms, but some (primarily elderly) have more severe illness. West Nile virus was found in Minnesota in 2002 and will remain a public health concern in the foreseeable future. In 2014, 21 cases of WNV disease were reported in Minnesota.
Others types are as follows:


Preventing Mosquito Exposure
  • Reduce or eliminate mosquito breeding grounds (i.e., sources of stagnant or standing water).
  • Cover as much skin as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when possible.
  • Avoid use of perfumes and colognes when working outdoors.
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin on skin that is not covered by clothing.
  • Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be exposed. The more DEET or Picaridin a repellent contains, the longer time it can protect you.
  • Spray insect repellent on the outside of your clothing (mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing).
  • Do NOT spray insect repellent on skin that is under clothing.
  • After working, use soap and water to wash skin and clothing that has been treated with insect repellent.
  • Be extra vigilant from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active


 

Sources:
 
Interim Guidance for Protecting Workers from Occupational Exposure to Zika Virus: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/outdoor/mosquito-borne/pdfs/osha-niosh_fs-3855_zika_virus_04-2016.pdf
 
CDC Zika in the United States

 
 

 

By: Joe Ingebrand

 
 
 
 

Monday, June 6, 2016

New Federal OSHA Reporting Rules

Federal OSHA’s final rule on injury reporting policies will be effective January 2017. This rule does not change what information is currently collected; rather it changes how the information is reported and, for the first time, this information will be publicized on-line. 

NOTE: Minnesota OSHA must still adopt its rules for our state based on the new federal rule.  State rules must be as strict as or stricter than the federal rules.  As a result, the following is the MINIMUM you can expect to see in the Minnesota OSHA rules when they are adopted.

 

The new federal OSHA rules apply only to certain types of cities:

If yours is a city or municipal entity of 250 or more employees including paid on call fire, police, EMS or other “volunteers” who, if injured, would be covered under MN Workers’ Compensation rules, then this new rule will apply to you.  In addition, employers with between 20 to 249 employees in “certain high risk industries” such as utilities, solid waste collection, water or wastewater treatment, healthcare facilities, amusement parks and arcades, or transit systems just to name a few, then your entity will likely also need to comply.

Cities subject to the new rule must:

  1. Begin electronic submission of employee injury records: OSHA 300, 300A and 301.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently ask only a few employers to submit their OSHA 300 logs.  Under the new regulation, all affected employers will submit electronic records.  The forms remain the same: OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses; Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses; and OSHA Form 301, Injury and Illness Incident Report.
  2. Public, searchable database of employers’ history of work injuries. According to the Federal Assistant Secretary of Labor, "Our new rule will 'nudge' employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers, and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable 'big data' researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer."
  3. Incentive program cautions.  Employee incentive programs, for example prizes for no lost time, get implemented by safety committees or management to reduce workplace injuries.  These programs often backfire and actually cause employees, through peer pressure and or management pressure, not to report injuries.  OSHA has a long history of frowning on incentive programs.  The new regulation narrowly defines what OSHA will consider acceptable.  “OSHA encourages incentive programs that promote worker participation in safety-related activities, such as identifying hazards or participating in investigations of injuries, incidents, or “near misses.””
  4. Informing employees of their rights under the rule.  Employers must establish a reporting procedure that does not deter or discourage an employee from reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.  Federal “OSHA already prohibits any person from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee who reports a fatality, injury, or illness. However, currently OSHA may not act under that section unless an employee files a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the retaliation.” In contrast, “under the final rule, OSHA will be able to cite an employer for retaliation even if the employee did not file a complaint, or if the employer has a program that deters or discourages reporting through the threat of retaliation.”

For your reading pleasure, here is a link to the new Federal rule: Federal Recordkeeping and Reporting Occupational Injuries.  


By: Cheryl Brennan


Friday, June 3, 2016

Mutual Boiler RE - Preventing Damaging Power Surges


With Spring here and Summer on the way we have already seen more than a few thunderstorms. The lightning in these storms has the potential to cause dangerous power surges that can damage property and equipment.
Our partners at Mutual Boiler RE recently published an article in their Spring Gears in Motion newsletter with some helpful tips on how to protect yourself from these damaging power surges:
 
P.S. If you are working outside when a storm starts, please err on the side of caution and seek shelter.


By: LMCIT Loss Control

 
 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Minnesota LTAP Operational Research Assistance Program (OPERA)

Have you ever had an idea how to make your job easier or, to develop and build something to make tasks simpler?  Do you like tinkering and found something to improve road work? There is a program from Minnesota Local Road Research Board called the OPERA Program, and it could help fund these ideas! OPERA funds projects up to $10,000 through an annual request-for-proposal process.

Visit the Minnesota LTAP Link below to learn more about the OPERA Program.


Here are a few links from past projects:
 
 

By: Troy Walsh



Friday, May 20, 2016

Minnesota Rural Water Tracer Wire Specification

The League of Minnesota Cities Spring Loss Controls Workshops are officially complete! We thank each of your for working us into your busy schedule to attend.  These workshops are always as much of a chance for us to learn as they are for you, and this year one of our more popular presentations was shared by our friends at the Minnesota Rural Water Association (MRWA) who taught us all about their trace wire specifications.

MRWA’s trace wire specification has been nationally praised and has even been used by companies such as Google in their utility projects. Here is a link to this specification for all of you that were unable to attend a workshop and for those of you that did but didn’t get the link. 

 

By: Cody Tuttle


 

 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Youth Employment - Summer help is on the Way

Each year about this time we in loss control get the question as to whether or not a 17 year old can operate a mower.  The answer to this question is yes; however, there are other restrictions related to youth employment cities should be aware of.

Lifeguards
·         15, 16 and 17 year olds can work as lifeguards in pools, but only with uninterrupted adult supervision.
·         16 and 17 year olds can work as lifeguards at lakes and rivers, but only with uninterrupted adult supervision.

Machinery
·         Youth ages 16 to 18 are restricted from driving certain power-drive machinery.  (They can operate riding/push mowers and weed whips.)
·         Minors cannot operate motor vehicle on streets as part of their normal job. (There is an exception for incidental and occasional driving by licensed drivers.)

Liquor
·         No individual under the age of 18 can serve, dispense, or handle intoxicating liquors that are consumed on premises.
·         Minors are prohibited from working in rooms where liquor is served or consumed. (There is an except for the job of busing dishes and providing musical entertainment.)

Other Regulations:
·         Minors cannot work where hazardous material exists.

 
For additional questions on this issue please contact your loss control consultant or LMC HR Department: jhottinger@lmc.org.


By: Joe Ingebrand



Monday, May 9, 2016

Air Advisory in State Take Two – What This Means When Working Outdoors

Last year we had a number of Air Quality Advisories in the state due to a number of wildfires in Canada and the wind shifting the smoke to our areas.  This year we are seeing much of the same type of issue in many parts of the state.  As such, we thought it would be beneficial to re-publish the information on Air Quality Advisories that we shared last year. Please take a moment to review the information and remember to stay informed on the air quality issues that may impact you or your workers.

 
We have all noticed the haze and gloomy air in the past week hanging around.  This haze was caused by over 180 fires blazing in British Columbia, Canada.

There are over 2 million acres of wildfires raging across Canada and into Alaska currently with no real end in sight.  The smoke from these fires has risen to over 20,000 feet which then allows the jet stream to act as a highway, transporting the smoke across the country. 

The state that has felt the largest impact is Minnesota, however there have been health advisories issued across the Western and Midwestern parts of the United States.  The reason that Minnesota is so heavily impacted is due to the East/Southeast direction of wind movement, which has put us directly in the line of “fire”, so to speak. 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued a statewide Air Advisory on Monday, which indicated that the northern two-thirds of the state should take extra precautions due to the reduced air quality from the smoke infiltration. What does this mean?

  1. Exposure to the high level of fine particles has previously been linked with respiratory and cardiovascular health effects.  There is a risk of exacerbation with pre-existing health conditions, which can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue.
  2. The level of fine particulate in the air on Monday was unhealthy for anyone.
  3. Those individuals that are sensitive to fine particles (pre-existing cardiovascular or respiratory disease, elderly, children, and individuals who are under heavy or extended exertion are advised to postpone or reduce vigorous activity and reduce exposure to air pollution (heavy duty vehicle exhaust, wood fires, candles)
  4. Those in the at risk or higher risk groups should check the Air Quality Index prior to vigorous activity being resumed.

As many of our Public Works and Parks Departments work the majority of their days outside participating in activities that require extended or heavy exertion, these employees are considered an “at risk population”.  As such, the MPCA does recommend limiting or avoiding those activities until the risk is reduced.

For current air quality conditions visit the Air Quality Index page

 


By: Tara Bursey, Loss Control Consultant