Monday, January 24, 2022

Where can I get certified as a playground safety inspector?

On average, over 200,000 children a year require emergency room care due to a playground-related injury. Of these, public playgrounds account for 74% of injuries.


At the League of Minnesota Cities, we frequently get asked where staff can go to get certified as a playground safety inspector. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) offers the industry-leading certification program in playground safety, the Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) certification program. The CPSI certification program provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date training on playground safety issues including hazard identification, equipment specifications, surfacing requirements and risk management methods.

In-person options:
The Minnesota Recreation and Park Association (MRPA) offers the NRPA Certified Playground Inspector Course and Exam at 2 Minnesota locations in Spring of 2022.

Online options:
If you don't see a course in your area, the NRPA offers virtual courses.

If you’re looking to hire a local CPSI to inspect your playground equipment, you can find a list in the CPSI registry.

Additional resources:
IPEMA International Playground Equipment ManufacturerAssociation


Submitted by: Julie Jelen, Loss Control Consultant

Friday, December 10, 2021

Reduce your risk of carjacking

Stealing a car by force has captured headlines across the country. While city vehicles are not normal targets for carjacking, there are general precautions which should be followed. Here are some recommendations from the Minneapolis Police Department:

  • Do not leave your vehicle running while unattended and never leave a key inside a parked vehicle.
  • Enter your vehicle quickly and lock your doors.
  • Memorize your license plate to help in fast recovery.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid being alone in your vehicle in certain areas, including isolated roads and parking lots.
  • Don't sit in your vehicle with the windows down and the doors unlocked.
  • Park in well-lit areas and if concerned, find a security guard to accompany you to your parked vehicle.
  • When exiting your car, look around you before turning off the ignition.
  • Make sure your cellphone is charged and accessible.
  • Be aware of tactics carjackers use, including bumping into your vehicle, pretending to be stranded, and flashing their vehicle's lights at you. If you feel a threat, drive to the nearest police or fire station.
  • Keep distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of yours if you need to drive around it and make a quick escape, especially at red lights.

If you are a victim of carjacking:

  • Honk your horn or use your panic button on your key fob.
  • Don’t resist, hand over keys.
  • Call 911 immediately.

For more information on general vehicle crime prevention and personal safety, review this story from KSTP.


Submitted by: Julie Jelen, Loss Control Consultant

Friday, November 12, 2021

Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA) George W. Burke, Jr. Facility Safety Award

Do you know of a municipality or perhaps your own, that has a strong safety program within their wastewater utility? Each year, the Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA), Minnesota section, offers recognition opportunities for individuals or organizations that are doing great work. This year, they are working hard to find a candidate for the George W. Burke, Jr.Facility Safety Award

What is the CSWEA George W. Burke, Jr. Facility Safety Award?

Established in 1983, this award is given in recognition of active and effective safety programs in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities. This award recognizes a wastewater treatment facility based on the documented and illustrated safety program and safety record of the facility for the preceding calendar year.

To submit nomination, go to CSWEA Awards. The nomination is technically due by November 15th, but will be extended as needed.  

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Reminder: Changes to Federal CDL training coming Feb. 2022

On Feb. 7, 2022 the updated Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
commercial drivers license (CDL) training standards will go into effect. These revised standards are required for anyone pursuing a new CDL license or endorsement. Training must come from a certified trainer registered in the FMCSA Training Provider Registry. As a result, most in-house training will no longer qualify.

The revised standards focused on entry-level driver training (ELDT), setting a baseline for anyone new to the commercial driving space. This includes those applying to: 

  • Obtain a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time.
  • Upgrade an existing Class B CDL to Class A.
  • Obtain a school bus (S), passenger (P), or hazardous material (H) endorsement for first time.

Two exceptions in the FMCSA to be aware of are:

  • If an applicant who obtains a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) prior to Feb. 7, 2022, obtains a CDL before the CLP or renewed CLP expires, the applicant is not subject to the ELDT requirements. 
  • Any individual who meets one of the exceptions for taking a skills test in 49 CFR Part 383 is also exempt from the ELDT requirements. 

The registry’s purpose is to ensure entry-level drivers are proficient in both driver theory training and behind the wheel training. The registry will always contain the official list of qualified trainers and the records of drivers who have successfully completed their ELDT, and states will have access to that information. After a driver has completed the required training, the training provider must electronically submit the certification into the training provider registry. 

Looking for more information? Explore these additional resources:

Training Provider Registry

CDL regulation PDF 

FMCSA Website for ELDT 

49 CFR Pt. 383 Guidance Q&A


Submitted by: Michael Neff, Loss Control Consultant


Monday, October 11, 2021

Are you doing self-inspections in your city?

Inspecting the workplace for hazards is one method your city can use to comply with the Minnesota AWAIR Act (AWAIR = A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction). Employers covered by this act must establish a written program that includes the methods used to identify, analyze and control new or existing hazards, conditions and operations. Self-inspections will also help reduce costs, boost morale, increase productivity, and lower liability exposure. 

Self-inspection process

The inspection process is a structured way to identify any hazards or deficiencies that 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. Use an inspection tool, such as a checklist, to document the inspection results. The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (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.

Conducting the self-inspection

A sub-group of committee members, typically two, conduct the inspections with the area manager and an employee representative. Staff conducting inspections must be trained in hazard recognition. 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. 

Document

As the saying goes – if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen. Keeping a record of in-house safety audits and inspections will identify past areas of focus and demonstrate a healthy safety culture.

 

Submitted by: Julie Jelen, Loss Control Consultant

Friday, July 23, 2021

New federal website offers free resources for preventing ransomware attacks

 A recent article in Cybercrime Magazine predicted that in 2021 a ransomware attack will happen every 11 seconds. Ransomware is an ever-evolving form of malicious software (malware) designed to encrypt information on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Ransomware attacks, in which payment is demanded from these cybercriminals before unlocking their files, have been surging of late.

New federal resources

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) has established a dedicated .gov website for ransomware resources at StopRansomware.gov. There is a wealth of knowledge available here – curated from various government agencies and departments – including fact sheets, training, webinars, etc. It is a service provided by the United States government and thus all of the information is free and available on demand.  

Insurance Trust cybersecurity resources

Members of the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) also have access to the eRisk Hub by NetDiligence. The eRisk Hub is a private, web-based portal containing information and technical resources that can assist members in the prevention of losses due to network attacks, cybersecurity threats, and privacy breaches. The eRisk Hub can also provide support in the timely reporting and recovery of losses if an incident occurs.

If you believe your city has already experienced a data breach or other cyber/privacy liability, contact LMCIT claims staff immediately at (800) 925-1122.


Submitted by: Julie Jelen, Loss Control Consultant

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Let the water fountains flow

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has announced that water fountains everywhere have the green light to get back up and running. In this piece I will highlight the MDH’s main reasoning and research behind this recent decision, and how this may impact municipalities.

Heat-related illness risk                        

We are about halfway through the summertime and temperatures don’t look to be dropping anytime soon. It’s no secret that water fountains all over Minnesota are placed where people need to be hydrated the most including outdoor parks, athletic fields, places of employment, etc. MDH officials say citizens are at a much greater risk of a heat-related illness and dehydration than catching COVID-19 from the fountain surface.

These resources can help you prepare for extreme heat:

Videos and graphics: Surface cleaning still recommended

The Department of Health reported citizens are at extremely low risk of contracting COVID-19 from touching the same water fountain as someone else. They also reiterate that COVID-19 is not found in the drinking water dispensed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still is suggesting frequent cleaning of surfaces especially in shared and public places, as before.

Refer to the following information for cleaning/disinfection information:

Address water quality risks first

When finally reactivating your city’s water fountains there are some things to consider before making sure the water is clean and trustworthy. When water fountains or other fixtures are shut off for an extended period, there is much more of a chance of water quality problems. A common example would be the build-up of bacteria such as Legionella.

Here is some guidance for safely reopening water fountains after shutdown:


Submitted by: Michael Neff, Loss Control Consultant