Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Accessing Vehicle for Repairs or Inspection

A previous blog focused on safety as it relates to getting in and out of equipment that is being operated, and reviewed the importance of using the “three points of contact” when entering and exiting the cab. Another area where cities experience slip/fall injuries is when equipment is being repaired or inspected.

You’ve probable done it yourself, climbed up on the dump box to see if the box is empty, or stood on a wheel to clean the windshield, both of these scenarios can and have led to slip/fall injuries. 

Whether it’s in the shop, or in the street, climbing on and around equipment can be dangerous. Fortunately, improvements have been made by manufactures, designing better steps and walkways on equipment, and by cities that utilize portable steps, wheel steps, built in steps or ladders to access equipment.        Joe Ingebrand

Friday, August 15, 2014

There’s an App for That!

Ever wonder if there was an easier way to find those pesky problem areas in your city?  There’s an app for that.  There are a number of apps designed to aid Public Works in tracking the areas that need repairs and/or attention. 

How does it work?
The most popular app is SeeClickFix.   The city would need to establish a portal with SeeClickFix, and then notify their residents of the availability.  The residents would have to download the app on their smart phone and report any issues to the Public Works Department.

What do the citizens report?
The citizens can report anything from downed trees or graffiti to potholes or sidewalk cracks via this app. 

Why do we need this?
With the diminishing resources we all deal with as a public entity, it is more important than ever to do more with less.  This creates more tasks for fewer people in less time, which then makes it more difficult for the Public Works Departments to identify all of the problem areas throughout the city.  The app can make the citizens their “eyes and ears”. 

Not a fan of the app?
There are a number of additional apps available that provide the same service as SeeClickFix.  Here is a short, but certainly not comprehensive list of the available apps:

By: Tara A. Bursey

Monday, August 4, 2014

City Employee Injured After Fall

Here is a headline no one wants to read....“A City of Watertown, SD, employee is in intensive care after falling off a piece of city equipment last week. The employee fell off a street sweeper on April 2, 2013 and fractured his skull. Initially, he was conscious and responsive, but due to the severe trauma, he was air-lifted to Avera Mckennan Hospital in Sioux Falls.”     (The Public Opinion .Com, Watertown, South Dakota)
No matter what type of equipment employees are operating, safety precautions need to be taken when it comes to climbing in and out of the equipment, or performing maintenance activities on the equipment.
Three-Point Contact Every Time
Keeps steps and standing surfaces free of snow, mud and debris.
Wear shoes with good support and tread.
Exit and enter facing the cab.
Slow down and use extra caution in bad weather.
Get a firm grip on rails or handles with your hands.
Look for obstacles on the ground below before exiting.
Don't climb down with something in your free hand. Put it on the vehicle floor and reach up for it when you get down on the ground.
Don't rush to climb out after a long run. Descend slowly, to avoid straining a muscle.
Never jump!  You may land off balance, on an uneven surface and fall.
Don't use tires or wheel hubs as a step surface.
Don't use the doorframe or door edge as a handhold.
Don't get complacent and become an injury statistic!
by Joe Ingebrand

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

FREE OSHA Log recordkeeping training for state and local governments

Basics of OSHA log recordkeeping for state and local governments
This half-day session is directed to new OSHA log recordkeepers at state and local government establishments, although more experienced government recordkeepers are welcome to attend. Topics will include a review of the fundamental requirements of OSHA recordkeeping and will expose the most common OSHA log errors. Participants will have time to ask questions about their own recordkeeping situations and receive tips about how to improve the accuracy and usefulness of the injury and illness log.

Monday, July 28, 2014

OSHA Training

Employee health and safety is not just about plugging in a video and calling it good.  While a considerable amount of relevant (and quite frankly unchanging) information can be conveyed through the use of videos an employer also must make sure to deliver training that is specific to the hazards, environment, equipment and conditions employees face in their everyday work. 

 For example, to provide training on confined space hazards and cover all required OSHA training elements for your city you might choose to use the FirstNet online training offering.  Next you might supplement that information with a free video/DVD from LMCIT’s lending library, and finally you would go over the specifics of confined space situations in your operations.  Using a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) or Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) would be an effective tool.

Using the LMCIT low cost online training classes and free DVD library can enhance your employee health and training program.  You can also secure some water and wastewater operator credits at the same time.  Look for the LMCIT postcard and email coming your way soon about the FirstNet Learning product. 

by Cheryl Brennan, Manager Loss Control Field Services 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Online Training from LMCIT is Here!

What does a Minnesota city such as yours have in common with cities in Vermont, Iowa, Kentucky, Colorado and even Alaska?  Good question!  Here’s the even greater answer.  They incorporate online training from FirstNet Learning as part of their employee health and safety training program. 

 And now you can too!  On August 4th the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust will kick off a low cost online training program now available to all LMCIT members.  “We’ve offered this training since 2005 to our members in the Regional Safety Groups (RSG”S) and the response has been very positive.”  “A few cities particularly rely on the online training to supplement the training they must give new and seasonal employees,” says Chris White, the Loss Control Program Coordinator.  The New Employee Safety Orientation and Safety Awareness for Seasonal Employees are offerings that get used a considerable amount. 

An email and post card announcing the program will be on its way to you soon.  First Net Learning will host a series of free webinars to introduce the program on August 21st from 1:00-2:00, August 26th from 10:30-11:30 and September 9th from 1:00-2:00.  The webinars will give municipalities even more information on how to incorporate online training into the overall employee safety program for the low, low price of $14/employee and a course offering of more than 30 titles each year!  Starting this fall LMCIT will add a new course every month for a total of 42 course offerings. 

Many OSHA Standards require very specific health and safety training content for employees exposed to typical, municipal workplace hazards such as bloodborne pathogens, confined space entry, lock-out / tag-out, and much more.  The required training is specific to the tasks employees perform, the exposures in the work environment and the equipment or PPE employee’s use, such as forklifts or respirators.  In addition, the city needs to discern that the employee actually understood the training and the city must maintain training records in the event of an OSHA investigation into an accident or injury.  FirstNet Learning will help you track participation and learning outcomes.  Stand by for more information coming with my next post...... 

By Cheryl Brennan, LMCIT Loss Control Field Services Manager

Monday, July 14, 2014

It’s a Company Vehicle, Right? Wrong!

When you are hired by the City and you are given a “work” vehicle, do the same rules apply as with private industry?  No, they do not.  There are Minnesota Statutes governing the use of municipally owned vehicles.  The statute outlines the use of these vehicles for personal reasons.  What considerations need to be made and what policies should the City adopt regarding use of city-owned vehicles?

The Statute and What it Means:
MN Statute 471.666 sets forth the restrictions on the use of municipal vehicles.  Subdivision 2 of the statute outlines the restrictions on use of municipal vehicles.  It is indicated that a local government vehicle can only be used for local government business, including personal use that is clearly incidental for local government business.  It also states that the vehicle cannot be used as a vehicle to commute to and from work for the employee. 

Example:  A city employee uses the city vehicle to get to a work related seminar.  On the return trip from the seminar, the employee takes a detour to a shopping mall to make some non-work related purchases.  If the employee is in an accident in the mall parking lot, there may be coverage questions that may result in the city’s coverage not applying to a portion or portions of the loss.

Exceptions to the Statute:
Exceptions to the statute regarding to and from an employee’s residence are outlined in Subdivision 3 of the statute.  These exceptions include when the vehicle is used in connection with work-related activities outside of the employee’s scheduled work hours.  Another exception is if the employee has been assigned the use of the vehicle on an extended basis and their primary place of work is not the local government work station where they are permanently assigned.  This would apply to field employees.  The third exception is if the number of miles traveled or the time needed to conduct the business will be minimized if the employee uses the municipal vehicle to travel to their residence before or after traveling to the place of local government business.  The last exception is those public safety vehicles that are owned or leased by the local government entity.  

Why Is This Important?
If an employee has an accident and it is determined that their personal use of the vehicle falls outside of the statute and/or the City’s fleet policy, the employee assumes significant personal risk.  The risk could be financial in nature and depending on the City’s policy, there may be disciplinary action for the lapse in policy adherence. 
What Can We Do?
  • Regularly review employee use of city-owned vehicles with special attention to personal use of the vehicles.
  • Consider adopting a policy that prohibits the personal use of city-owned vehicles.
  • Train employees on the policy and develop a form to clearly show when use of city-owned vehicles is “authorized”.
  • Require employees to use their personal auto if there is a possibility of personal use or if the employee would like to have their spouse or family member accompany them.

The bottom line is city/municipally owned vehicles must adhere to a different set of rules governed by MN Statute 471.666.  This differs greatly from the private industry’s guidelines on company vehicles, which are determined by each individual company and are not subject to the statute above.

By Tara Bursey