Monday, February 25, 2013

Sky Lanterns - Don't Get Burned


As summer approaches, cities begin to think about special events.  Often times, these celebrations may involve fireworks, or something similar called "Sky Lanterns."  Sky lanterns are made of paper, wire and a small fuel pad.  When the inside is lit, the heat helps to raise them skyward like a small hot air balloon.  Essentially, they are a type of floating fire ball that goes wherever the wind may carry it. 
Although sky lanterns may look beautiful when released in a group, they are ILLEGAL in the State of Minnesota.  Sky lanterns have already caused fires around the globe, and even took the life of a 10 year old boy.  A sky lantern may land when the flame is weak but still burning, so there is significant fire potential if they land on flammable vegetation or buildings. 
The bottom line is that it is illegal to sell or use them in Minnesota.  Doing so could result in up to 90 days in jail, or a fine of not more than $1000, or both.  For more information, go to the following link to access a memo from the State Fire Marshal. 
State Fire Marshal

By Jackie Torgerson

Friday, February 15, 2013

Webinars!

Did you know that the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) Loss Control now produces webinars on topics that are timely and important for Public Works employees?  You can attend these interactive webinars live on the date and time they are produced.  You can also go to the LMC website and view these webinars at any time it is convenient for you and your colleagues.   Check out the League of Minnesota Cities website for the first few offerings. 
While you are there search for other valuable loss control information and watch for notices of future webinars.  Join other Public Works employees around the state for interactive polling and learn from content using photographs of actual Public Works environments and operations.  Submit questions for the Loss Control specialist to answer during the webinar or send us your questions on a topic ahead of time.  We’ll be sure it gets addressed.  Head to the website now to view:
1.    Find it and Fix it…Getting Started on Mock OSHA Inspections
2.    In the Drivers Seat: Beating Driver Fatigue
3.    Developing an Effective Playground Safety Program

What topics would you like to see covered in a webinar format? 
by Cheryl Brennan

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Get what you need…but don’t get scammed! Required Workplace Postings

Ever get a phone call from a company trying to sell you workplace posters?  Hold on…it might be a scam.  “Required postings” scams have exploded in number over the last few years and have been reported by cities and other employers from coast to coast.  One sign it’s a scam is if the person on the other end tells you that there have been changes to regulations and that “you must purchase the latest OSHA posters” or else you’ll be “out of compliance.”  Often these scammers will attempt to sound like they represent a government agency.  They may send “official looking” announcements or even threatening notices warning of fines or penalties if you don’t purchase the “updated” postings.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  These companies don’t represent OSHA or any other government agency.  They are private businesses, trying to make a quick buck through misrepresentation and deceit. 

The fact is Minnesota law does require employers to post state-mandated posters; however, these posters are available for FREE from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI).  Although there have been some design changes to the State’s posters, the regulations described in the posters have not changed, so employers do not need to replace their current poster set.  You do not have to pay anything to be in compliance with Minnesota’s required postings. These required postings include Safety and Health on the job, Minimum Wage, Age Discrimination, Unemployment, and Workers’ Compensation, and must be posted in a conspicuous location in the workplace (Note:  in addition to the state posting requirements, some U.S. Government agencies require postings, such as the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission).

You can request your FREE posters (available in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali) by phone, email, snail mail, or electronically via DLI’s website by visiting the web address below.  Simply click on “Order free, mandatory workplace posters online.”  You can even print your posters directly from DLI’s website.  From the printer to the bulletin board!  For more information visit:  http://www.dli.mn.gov/LS/Posters.asp  

So if you receive a call or letter and suspect a scam, get a name and address, do some fact-checking, and then, if necessary report the incident to your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).  That way, we’ll all be doing our part to “keep ‘em honest.”