Monday, October 29, 2012

Lifting Tables Can Be a Pain in the ______

During the 2012 Loss Control workshop sessions, we asked participants: “What is one of your tough, physically demanding job tasks—and how do you avoid manual material handling and still accomplish the task?”

Often this question was answered with: moving picnic tables. Sometimes this is an ongoing task (moving them out of the way for mowing), and other times it’s for special events (like a street dance), while still other times it’s a seasonal process (moving them into storage facilities or shelters for the winter).

Consideration should be given to the options and methods other cities are already using to accomplish this task in a way that minimizes manual material handling and the risk for employee sprains and strains:

The City of Detroit Lakes installed rubber bumpers on the mower to push the table out of the area to be mowed.

The City of Sauk Centre built an attachment that goes on a front deck mower in place of a deck...

...and uses it to lift tables and move them to an off-season storage building.
The City of Red Wing uses a set of jigs they made and attached to a Cushman power dump box to lift and transport tables.

The City of Clara City built a picnic table mover/cart with wheels to move tables.

Other cities use forks on a loader or skid-steer to lift, move and load tables to a trailer. Some add extended forks.

Commercially built products are also available to move tables: 

The Table Mover -

(Used by the City of Moorhead, Park Maintenance Department)

The Picnic Table Transporter -

Ergonomics in public works is very important. (Ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than having the worker adjust to the physical demands of the job.)

Recent LMCIT research shows that Public Works has the largest amount of loss costs among member city job classes: roughly thirty-five percent (35 %). And the most frequent and costly injuries in public works are: sprains, strains, and other musculoskeletal injuries.

Changes in tools, equipment, or procedures are some of the ways to improve ergonomics and reduce the potential for future injuries. 

What’s your city’s method? Let us know.

By Joe Ingebrand

Please note: The referenced products and/or services are provided solely as a source of general assistance and should not be taken as the League’s endorsement of the product or service, or a recommendation that it will meet your unique needs.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How Well Do You Handle the Change of Seasons?

The change of seasons means significant changes to your equipment. Lawnmowers, loaders, tractors, and dump trucks alike all have a changing role. To get them functional for the new season, you have a lot of accessories that need to be changed out.

How you handle this changeover is either exposing workers to some serious material handing exposures and awkward body postures, or it can be a non-event.   

Some things I would like you to consider are as follows: 

  1. Are storage areas clear of other equipment and items, or does it take days of clearing paths through a bunch of “stuff” to get to the equipment?
  2. Are you manhandling the equipment manually, or moving it mechanically?
  3. Do you have to manually push/pull or lift/lower this equipment at all, or can you do it totally hands-free? 
  4. Do you have a formal plan to make sure the needed equipment is operating correctly prior to the start of the changeover? 
  5. Have you identified your greatest exposure(s) for completing all these tasks, and do you have a plan in place to reduce this exposure with a planned equipment purchase (overhead hoist, forks for the loader, etc.)?
If you think you have a good method for the changeover madness, share your thoughts or your plan of attack.

What’s your city’s method? Let us know.

by Andy Miller

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This One's For You!

This blog truly is for you—it’s your turn. This is the place where the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) will offer tools to help you do your job safely while faced with budget cuts, fewer hands to help, and rising service demands.

This is the place to see what other Minnesota city public works departments are field- and road-testing. When possible, when we hear about something great, we’ll put it up here. (And by the way, if you’re doing something great—let us know).

From my years of working in parks departments, I know that blogs aren’t the usual way we get things done in public works. But interesting times call for interesting measures. This format allows us to focus on you—just you—to get right to the point and share things as they happen.

I hope you’ll join us. I hope you’ll help us make this blog a success. You can subscribe on this page to get updates. So here we go—welcome!

Rachel Carlson, Loss Control Manager