Friday, January 27, 2017

Are your seasonal workers properly trained?

Seasonal workers, whether winter or summer, are required to be trained. Seasonal employees need to receive the same level of safety training as other workers. Make sure they:

§  are briefed on overall safety training in addition to being given site-specific training

§  aren’t made to do only tasks that are especially dangerous

§  are given the correct PPE for each job, as well as training on how and when to use it


Minnesota OSHA requires that all employees are trained annually on Employee Right-to-Know, which includes hazardous substances, harmful physical agents, and infectious agents that are present in the workplace. The city is also responsible in making sure each employee understands the city’s Emergency Action Plan and AWAIR policy (A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction program). This can be done at the New Employee Orientation and/or annually reviewed.  For a full list on training requirements, contact your LMCIT Loss Control Consultant.

In addition to those OSHA required training mentioned above, some jobs have other hazards that require training specific to the tasks the employee performs.   This could include specific training on equipment, such as forklifts or PPE.  The city is responsible for making sure the employee understands the training and retains all training records.

How can we get this training?

If you are part of the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) Regional Safety Group (RSG), your RSG Coordinator can help to ensure compliance and proper training is being met. Other top training programs, such as Minnesota Municipal Utility Association’s (MMUA) Safety Training program, will also ensure employees are trained with accurate recordkeeping.

Another great option is LMCIT’s FirstNet Safety Training.  FirstNet Safety Training is an affordable and convenient web-based training for all employees.  This tool provides access to more than 45 online training courses covering a wide variety of safety topics that can provide basic training for new employees, as well as refresher training for experienced and seasonal employees. FirstNet Safety Training will also help you track participation and learning outcomes.  To view a full list of courses, visit the FirstNet Safety Training Courses page. Keep in mind, each city has their own unique hazards and can’t solely rely on online training programs. For more information on FirstNet Safety Training or joining a RSG, contact Kristen LeRoy, LMCIT Program Manager (651) 281-1268 or (800) 925-1122.
 
 

By: Julie Jelen, Loss Control Consultant



Friday, January 20, 2017

Winter Safety Tips

It’s January, and that means we are in the thick of our Minnesota winter (even if it is a temperate 38 degrees outside as I am writing this). We may be going through an unseasonably warm streak right now, but looking ahead in the weather forecast the cold and snow we are more accustomed to will be back soon, so here are some winter safety tips.


Cold Weather
When working outdoors or in unheated areas this time of year, it is important to be mindful of the dangers of cold stress. This includes Frostbite and Hypothermia which we have previously written a blog about here.
Two things that you can do to protect yourself from the cold are wear appropriate clothing and be mindful of how your body is reacting to the cold. When it’s cold out, wear plenty of layers and limit the amount of skin you have that is exposed to the cold and wind by wearing gloves, knit hats, etc. When it’s sub-zero out, you should ideally have no skin exposed and should be limiting the amount of time you are spending outdoors. The next thing you can do is be mindful of how your body is reacting to the cold. When it is cold and your body temperature starts to drop, your body will start to focus its blood flow on your core as a way of protecting your vital organs. This means that blood flow to your extremities such as arms and legs will be decreased. An early warning sign of this decreased circulation will be numbness in your fingers and toes, so if you start to feel this numbness despite wearing gloves, heavy socks and insulated boots, you need to get out of the cold immediately.

The Minnesota Department of Labor has some additional information that can be found here:


Look on the bottom of that article for additional links and resources from federal OSHA and NIOSH that can also help you be safe in the cold. 
 


Frozen Pipes
During the winter months, especially January when it is not uncommon for us to go a full week with temperatures only in the negative digits, you should be very mindful of the risks of frozen water and sewer lines. This is a topic that we have covered extensively in other blogs, for easy access, we compiled links to all of them into a single post last year that you can find here.
The risk of water line freeze-ups is one of the reasons why it is important to make sure the water is shut off in any vacant buildings unless of course, the city wishes to keep any sprinkler systems in those buildings active. If the city does decide to keep the sprinkler or water system in a vacant building active the heat should remain on as well, and the building should be inspected frequently during cold snaps to ensure no pipes have frozen and burst.


511mn.org
Did you know that the Minnesota Department of Transportation has a website that allows you to track road conditions? 511mn.org allows you to track road conditions of all roads maintained by the state DOT. You can see how the roads rate after snow storms between “normal”, “partially covered”, “completely covered” and “travel not advised”. The website also allows you to track traffic speeds, see where any accidents have occurred, and look at photos taken by state traffic cameras. Aside from the website, there is also an app that you can download to your phone.
As Public Works employees you are usually the ones clearing the roads of snow for the rest of us, so this may not be as useful to you, but informing your citizens about this useful tool could help prepare them for the snowy roads and prevent accidents. As someone who has to travel a lot for work, I know the app has been extremely helpful to me on more than one occasion.



By: Cody Tuttle


Friday, January 6, 2017

Building a Better Mouse Trap


Have you ever completed a job and thought, “there has got to a better way to complete these tasks”? Thinking outside the box with your normal everyday operations could help in making the job easier and/or safer!

Did you know that the Minnesota Local Transportation Agencies (LTAP) has a Grant Program for ideas such as this?  Local Operational Research Assistance Program (OPERA) is a Grant Program that could help some of these ideas come true! The below link will guide you to past projects that have been completed as well as some video’s on these completed projects.



National LTAP also has Archives of not only the Minnesota projects, but the national project competition, called the “Build a Better Mousetrap”, winners. Build a Better Mousetrap will review the 2015 National Entry’s as well as entries back to 2009. These inventions and ideas could be applied to your organization to help make the Job Easier and Possible Safer!
 
 
 

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