Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Skid-Steer Safety

As cities look for ways to improve efficiencies, and reduce sprain and strain injuries associated with manual material handling, a skid-steer is one piece of equipment they often turn to.  But as with any equipment operation, safety needs to be paramount. And while OSHA does not have a specific standards on skid-steers, employers have received citations for a serious violation under the General Duty Clause of the OSHA Standard (Section 5(a)(1)).


OSHA Citations related to Skid-Steers:
 
  • Improper employee training on the safety features associated with the skid-steer loader
  • Disabling of the interlock control system and was not functioning properly.
  • Backup alarms did not functioning properly.
  • Seatbelts had been removed from the skid-steer loaders.
  • Failure to use an approved lift arm support device during servicing.
  • Improperly maintaining the skid-steer loader according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Employee's intentional bypassing of the safety systems of the skid-steer loader.
 

Skid-Steer General Safety Practices:
  • Always read and understand the operator's manual before using the piece of equipment.
  • Always lower the bucket or attachment so that it is flat on the ground.
  • Do not attempt to activate the skid-steer loader’s controls from outside the operator's compartment.
  • Do not leave the operator's seat while the engine is on. Never attempt to activate the controls unless properly seated with the seatbelt fastened and the seat bar (if equipped) lowered.
  • Keep all body parts inside the cab while operating a skid-steer loader.
  • Never modify, bypass, disable, or override safety systems.
  • Never permit riders on the skid-steer loader, in the bucket or attachment, or in the operator's compartment unless the compartment is designed to accommodate a second rider.
  • Establish a routine maintenance and inspection program in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations, and use approved lift arm support device.
  • Train personnel on the proper inspection, use, maintenance, and repair of skid-steer loaders.
Standard front step


Getting On/Off Equipment:

Side steps for larger buckets
Use three points of contact when getting in and out of skid steer. If using snow bucket or other large attachments, consider a side step for getting in and out of unit.


Side step for larger buckets

 
by Joe Ingebrand


Friday, April 3, 2015

Required Workplace Postings


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

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.  You can even print your posters directly from DLI’s website.  From the printer to the bulletin board!  For more information visit:  Order free, mandatory workplace posters online.

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.”

By Joe Ingebrand