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 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sewer Check Valves- Another Tool in Your Sewer Tool Kit

Joe Ingebrand 
From time to time we in loss control get questions as to how a city can install a lateral sewer line check-valve in cooperation with a home owner without increasing liability in future. Check valves have long been used in communities where flooding is common, where sanitary sewer systems become overwhelmed with storm water causing sewer back-ups. They are also a tool used as a temporary fix for property’s with a history of sewer back-ups, or those that are particularly vulnerable due to current infrastructure problems that are years away from being replaced.

In order to reduce liability associated with ownership and maintenance of sewer check valves, the city should consider the following:
  • Consult the city engineer for location and installation guidance,
  • Use a written agreement between the property owner and the city, and 
  • Work with the City Attorney to develop a policy and an agreement defining when, where, and how they can be used and who is responsible for them after installation.
See a Model Policy and Model Agreement below.  For an electronic copy of these documents please contact  your loss control consultant or Joe Ingebrand at . 


Sewer Backflow Check Valves

On occasion the City may purchase and install a sewer backflow check valve (“check valve”) at certain properties for the purpose of preventing sanitary sewer backups.  In general, this action will be reserved for properties that have had multiple and/or severe sanitary sewer backups.

The City may recommend this action to a property owner or the request for a check valve may come from a property owner.  The determination of which properties qualify for a City-provided check valve will be made by the City on a case-by-case basis.  Items to be considered include, but are not limited to:
  • The number and severity of sanitary sewer backups that have occurred at the property.
  • The cause of the sewer back up and the location of any blockages.
  • The type of building and contents of the building located on the property.
  • Pending sanitary sewer system improvements that would improve service to the property.
  • Sanitary sewer system improvements that have already taken place to improve service to the property.
  • Before a check valve will be provided, both the City and the property owner must enter into an agreement regarding the purchase, installation and follow up care for a check valve.

The City may hire a contractor to carry out the installation of a check valve.

The purchase and installation of a check valve for one property does not entitle another property owner to the same service.  Neither this policy nor the practice described herein confers rights on another property owner.

The City will evaluate this policy and practice on an ongoing basis and may discontinue the provision of check valves to property owners at any time.
             THIS AGREEMENT is made this _____ day of                               , 20___, by and between the City of ________________, a Minnesota municipal corporation (the “City”) and ___________________________________________________, owner(s) of the property located at __________________________________________ (the “Property Owner”) (collectively referred to as the Parties”).
WHEREAS, one or more sanitary sewer backups have occurred at this property; and
WHEREAS, the Parties want to take reasonable action to prevent future sanitary sewer backups at this property; and
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the promises contained herein, the Parties hereby agree to the following:
Sewer backflow check valve:  A valve that isolates the property’s plumbing from the public sanitary sewer in the street.  The check valve includes a flapper that shuts when water level in the public sewer line is high enough to flow back into the house.
 1.  The City will provide a sewer backflow check valve for the property located at ____________________________________ (the “Property”).
 2.  The City will install or arrange for the installation of the sewer backflow check valve at the Property.
3.  If there is a cost to the Property Owner associated with the purchase or installation of the check valve the details should be reflected here:
4.  The Property Owner is responsible for all maintenance, inspection, repair, and replacement of the sewer backflow check valve following installation. 
5.  The Property Owner understands that while a sewer backflow check valve offers protection against sanitary sewer backups, it is not foolproof.  Even with a sewer backflow check valve, sanitary sewer backups may sometimes occur. 
6.  This Agreement will be in effect for the time Property Owner resides at the Property.  The Property Owner may not assign this Agreement to any subsequent owner of the Property.
7.  Prior to installment of the sewer backflow check valve, this Agreement may be terminated by either party by giving written notice to the other party.  
1.  City’s Insurance.  The City shall maintain property and liability coverage with the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust under standard LMCIT liability coverage forms.   
 2.  Damage to Property.  The City/the City’s contractor shall be responsible for any damages to the Property occurring during the installation of the sewer backflow check valve, to the extent that the negligence of the City/the City’s contractor causes damage to the Property,  subject to any protections the City is entitled to under Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 466 or other laws.
3.  Liability of City.  Provision and installation of a sewer backup check valve at this Property is not an admission of liability on the part of the City for any past or future sewer backups.
4.  Sewer Backup Claims.  Nothing in this agreement prevents the Property Owner from filing future claims with the City in the event of a sanitary sewer backup.
1.  Entire Agreement.  This Agreement supersedes any prior or contemporaneous representations or agreements, whether written or oral, between the Parties and contains the entire agreement. 
 2.  Amendments.  Any modification or amendment to this Agreement shall require a written agreement signed by both Parties.
 3.  Governing Law.  This Agreement shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of Minnesota.
 4.  Captions.  Captions or headings contained in this Agreement are included for convenience only and form no part of the agreement between the Parties.
 5.  Waivers.  The waiver by either party of any breach or failure to comply with any provision of this Agreement by the other party shall not be construed as, or constitute a continuing waiver of such provision or a waiver of any other breach of or failure to comply with any other provision of this Agreement.
 6.  Savings Clause.  If any court finds any portion of this Agreement to be contrary to law or invalid, the remainder of the Agreement will remain in full force and effect.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties caused this Agreement to be approved.

CITY OF _______________, MINNESOTA           PROPERTY OWNER(S)
BY:    __________________           BY:  _________________                                                             
            Its Mayor                                                                   
AND:___________________         AND: _________________                                                            
            Its City Clerk