Friday, December 18, 2015

Tech Corner – Back-Up Cameras

As we work on our budgets for the upcoming years consider the newest technologies in your planning.  When looking at large purchases, consider what has changed and what options may make your job easier or less risky. 

A number of cities have implemented back-up cameras in their plows as an added feature.  According to these cities, the added technology decreases back-up accidents and pays for itself easily within one season.  The drivers are benefited with fewer blind spots and better clarity while backing. 

Plow trucks are not the only equipment that can be improved with the back-up camera technology.  Passenger vehicles, such as pick-ups, can benefit from this technology as well.  A few cities have even added this technology into their Bobcats and loaders, which are notorious for blind spots. 

While there has been a healthy dose of skepticism when discussing this technology, those that have implemented the use of back-up cameras have found it does make their jobs easier and safer. 

By: Tara A. Bursey

Friday, December 11, 2015


     We recently had a question regarding the storage of fireworks left over from the cancelation of a holiday event. This started me thinking – handling and storage of fireworks, how cities deal with fireworks displays, and  the related state and federal regulation questions. The simple answer is there are specific regulations on the use, possession, and storage of explosives which includes display fireworks used in celebrations such as the Fourth of July. Some cities contract with a licensed vendor to  handle the fireworks displays so the city doesn’t directly handle the fireworks. The city should, however, be familiar with the regulations. The information put out by the State of Minnesota and the ATF are good references to ensure the contractors are following the correct and safe procedures.

     For those cities that do organize and handle the fireworks it is important to note there are specific storage requirements which must be met. Whether it be the fire department or police department who are in charge of handling the fireworks and putting on the displays, the regulations must be adhered to for both public and employee safety. The State Fire Marshal Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has a Public Display Fireworks Operator Guidelines publication which outlines the regulations associated with the use, possession, display, and storage of fireworks. The storage of fireworks is regulated by the ATF and in the Minnesota Public Display Fireworks Operator Guidelines in Part E - Federal Requirements  it references the ATF’s Regulations for proper storage. The ATF puts out the ATF Federal Explosives and Regulations book (The Orange Book) that has regulations for the possession, handling, and storage of explosives; where display fireworks fall.  Fireworks must be stored in an ATF approved storage magazine built for the type of explosive being stored. The storage requirements of fireworks is outlined in the regulations and related tables for safe distances from storage facility to inhabited buildings and roads as listed in Subpart K – Storage.  Subpart K outlines the requirements for storage of explosives and has tables for setbacks or distances from inhabited structures, roadways, railroads, and other storage magazines. These two guides should be downloaded and used in preparation for upcoming and future planned events where display fireworks are being used.

     For your quick reference, here are  links  to the above mentioned publications put out by the State and ATF.
1. Public Display Fireworks Operator Guidelines -

2. ATF Orange Book -

By: Paul Gladen

Friday, December 4, 2015

Snow, Plows, and Drivers

The Snow is coming soon, are you prepared? With the winter rapidly approaching you are either a Snow-Bird, or going to work your way through yet another winter. How are you educating your community on what to do when they encounter a plow while driving on city streets? Putting together a pamphlet and/or an education session will help notify the public of your winter parking rules, when the plows will typically be out, when their streets will get plowed, and what to do when they encounter a plow truck.

A few years ago the city of Victoria and the Lake Minnetonka Cable Commission worked together and developed a short video on Snow Plow Safety Tips. This video gives a short explanation for what drivers could do to help the Plow Operators during plowing events.

By: Troy Walsh

Friday, November 20, 2015

Toddler Swings

Fall is in full force, and winter is on its way. While you are no doubt busy closing shop at your local playgrounds and parks in preparation for winter, it may be a good time to start considering upgrades to your playground equipment for next year. One piece of equipment you might want to consider replacing is your bucket swing.

The Problem

Bucket swings themselves are a nice safe alternative swing for toddlers who yet lack the muscle stability to use a regular swing without serious risk of falling while being pushed. The problem arises, however, when older children (and occasionally teens) who are too big for it attempt to get into the swing which, by design, requires assistance getting in and out of. The older child then finds their legs stuck in the swing’s tiny leg openings which were meant to prevent toddlers from falling.

While this may sound like some outlier problem, several fire departments in cities and towns across the state found themselves cutting children out of these toddler swings this past year.

The Solution

When looking for an alternative to your bucket swing, it is important to keep in mind how important it is to still have the support and safety that one provides, just without the ability to confine and trap the legs. One alternative to consider is a swing with a removable guard, so that even if a child finds themselves stuck, freeing them is as simple as undoing the child proof latch. Another option (pictured below) is a form of bucket swing that is still guarded around all sides, yet less constricting around the legs with a single bar separating the legs to prevent a younger child from slipping through. As always, be sure to consult the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines for playground safety, or contact you LMCIT loss control consultant, before purchasing any new playground equipment.

By: Cody Tuttle

Friday, November 13, 2015

Reaching for the Stars and Installing Decorations!

   Cities have increased the Flags, Banners, and Flower Pots that help decorate our downtowns, add seasonal colors, and help celebrate holidays. With this increase of decorations, we increase the number of possible injuries for our maintenance employees. When climbing a ladder 10-20 times while installing decorations; are we always making sure the ladder is secure and on a flat surface? How about a bucket truck? Are we following all the regulations for fall protection, harnesses, and climbing in & out of the bucket each time? What else do we already have that we could utilize for installing these decorations with safety in mind and reducing the repetitive motions?

   The city of Cleveland, MN has a wide variety of decorations for their downtown and surrounding areas that they change several times a year. Their Public Works Department designed Steps and a Platform they install on their loader to minimize the hazard of ladders and the expense of a bucket truck. The loader operator is now able to load the decorations on the platform, drive to the location, park, leave the operator’s seat, climb the steps, secure himself with fall protection, and install the decorations. The steps and platform are removable for winter plowing operations and can be reinstalled when needed!
   Evaluating operations and finding a way to reduce injuries is critical in daily operations.







By: Troy Walsh


Friday, November 6, 2015

MN OSHA Safety Grant Update

(New) Application is On-Line Only

For years, LMCIT Loss Control has been encouraging cities to utilize a MN OSHA Safety grant to defray costs associated with making safety improvement, and that won’t change. What has changed is the requirement to complete and submit the grant application on-line.

Numerous cities in MN have received the grant, which is a match grant up to $10,000, saving cities thousands of dollars.  Items include: manhole cover lifting devices, truck tailgate lift, confined space entry equipment, fall protection equipment, personnel protective equipment, and the list goes on…..

Lastly, if you have already received a grant, but it’s been two years, you are now eligible to apply again. And since the grants are reviewed every two months, you don’t have to wait long to find out the results.

Program overview and criteria:
Online presentation.
Information you need to complete the application.
On-line application.

As always, if you need help or have questions, in addition to OSHA Consultation, you can always contact your LMCIT Loss Control Consultant.

By: Joe Ingebrand

Monday, November 2, 2015

MN Bleacher Safety Law

When was the last time you inspected your bleachers?  The law requires recertification every 5 years.
Around the year 2000, in addition to “Y2K disaster” looming on the horizon, the MN legislature passed a law to improve bleacher safety.  The law defined the types, specification, and application of bleacher guardrails and other openings. Shortly after that, most cities made improvements and inspected their bleachers as required, but that was 15 years ago!

Bleachers Effected

In places of public accommodation using bleacher seating, all bleachers or bleacher open spaces over 55 inches above grade or the floor below, and all bleacher guardrails if any part of the guardrail is over 30 inches above grade or the floor below must conform to the following safety requirements:


The open space between bleacher footboards, seats, and guardrails must not exceed four inches, unless approved safety nets are installed. Guardrails must have vertical perimeter guardrails with no more than four-inch rail spacing between vertical rails or other approved guardrails that reduce the ability for a person to climb the railings. Chain link fencing can be added to existing guard railing systems, or used in place of vertical supports, to meet this requirement.


The open space between bleacher footboards, seats, and guardrails must not exceed four inches, unless approved safety nets are installed, except that retractable bleachers already in place as of January 1, 2001, which can have open spaces less than 9”.


The certification shall be prepared by a qualified and certified building official or state licensed design professional and shall certify that the bleachers have been inspected and are in compliance with the requirements of this section and are structurally sound. For bleachers owned by a school district or nonpublic school, the person the district or nonpublic school designates to be responsible for buildings and grounds may make the certification.


Bleacher footboards and guardrails must be re-inspected at least every five years and a structural inspection must be made at least every ten years. Inspections may be completed in the same manner as provided in subdivision 4. This section does not preclude a municipal authority from establishing additional re-inspections under the State Building Code.

by Joe Ingebrand

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Snow Plow Policy

Does your snow plow policy need a Fall tune-up?

   A snow plow policy can help the city plan for the use of its resources, establishes priorities for work, and provides an explanation as to how and when snowplowing will be completed. It can also be used to inform the public about parking rules, damaged mail boxes, and specific routes. Lastly, it can support a defense of statutory discretionary immunity, allowing LMCIT to defend the city in the event of a liability claim associated with this activity.

Snowplowing and Ice Control Policy Components:

1. Introduction
2. When Will the City Start Snow or Ice Control Operations?
3. How Snow will be plowed
4. Snow Removal
5. Priorities and Schedule of Streets to be plowed
6. Work Schedule for Snowplow Operators
7. Traffic Regulations
8. Weather Conditions
9. Use of Sand, Salt, and Other Chemicals
10. Sidewalks
11. Mailboxes
12. Complaint Procedure
13. Deviation from Policy
14. Review and Modification of Policy
(LMCIT Model Snow Plow Policy)

By Joe Ingebrand

Thursday, September 17, 2015

There’s An App For That! (Inspection Edition)

While in the field recently, one of our Loss Control Consultants came across an amazingly efficient way to track different inspections throughout the City.  The CityReporter App gives you access to a multitude of varied inspection checklists at the tip of your fingers on your tablet or smart phone.

The CityReporter App reduces the inspection paperwork and filing by automatically storing the inspection checklists, photos, and notes into a file in the cloud that can be accessed later by City personnel.  After the number of times during workshops that it has been mentioned that you need to document your inspections, there is finally an easy way to do this.
The CityReporter App has a wide range of inspection checklists preformatted and available for use.  If the App does not have a checklist suited to your specific needs, CityReporter gives you the capability to create a customized inspection form.  The pre-made checklists include parks, roads, facilities, pools, new construction, fire and sport fields, to name a few.
The CityReporter App was developed with the assistance and advice of a number of municipal risk managers, playground inspectors, the director of the International Playground Safety Institute, road maintenance companies, building industry experts, fire officials and a host of other professionals.  This App makes it easy to keep up with the various inspections that the City’s should be performing on a regular basis and takes the paperwork out of the mix.
Currently in Minnesota, there are only a few cities using the App, however this number is expected to increase as word gets out on the ease of the inspection checklists.  Check out their website at CityReporter App for more information, a free demonstration and detailed information on the CityReporter Application.

By Tara A. Bursey

Friday, September 4, 2015

Restroom Access for Transgender Employees

Did you know there is a new Department of Labor (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) A Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers In addition to OSHA guidance for transgender employees and applicants, there are also a wide variety of federal laws to consider.  What's provided in your Public Works department?  

Liability lawsuits--Failure by the city to provide appropriate facilities, or failure of any employee to abide by the guidelines, poses risk for a liability lawsuit.  Applicable laws include sex discrimination protection under Title VII and the Minnesota Human Right Act.  Other federal regulations also apply including the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
What does OSHA have to do with it?  "Under OSHA’s Sanitation standard (1910.141), employers are required to provide their employees with toilet facilities. This standard is intended to protect employees from the health effects created when toilets are not available. Such adverse effects include urinary tract infections and bowel and bladder problems. OSHA has consistently interpreted this standard to require employers to allow employees prompt access to sanitary facilities. Further, employers may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of toilet facilities."

Starting the discussion  Perhaps you’ve already made your employees aware of the requirements.  If not you will need to make them aware of what is expected and what changes, if any, the city needs to make to restroom facilities. 
To simplify the discussion it’s helpful to start with understanding gender identity.  Here’s an excerpt from the OSHA Guide, an “estimated 700,000 adults in the United States are transgender—meaning their internal gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth (e.g., the sex listed on their birth certificate).
For example, a transgender man may have been assigned female at birth and raised as a girl, but identify as a man. Many transgender people transition to live their everyday life as the gender they identify with. Thus, a transgender man may transition from living as a woman to living as a man. Similarly, a transgender woman may be assigned male at birth, but transition to living as a woman consistent with her gender identity.”

What needs to be done--The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided some basic guidance about these requirements.  Access the link to the Guide above for information on Model Practices for Restroom Access for Transgender Employees.  Specifically “Many companies have implemented written policies to ensure that all employees—including transgender employees—have prompt access to appropriate sanitary facilities. The core belief underlying these policies is that all employees should be permitted to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity. For example, a person who identifies as a man should be permitted to use men’s restrooms, and a person who identifies as a woman should be permitted to use women’s restrooms. The employee should determine the most appropriate and safest option for him- or herself.

The OSHA's Best Practices Guide also provides options which employers may choose, but are not required, to use. These include: Single-occupancy gender-neutral (unisex) facilities; use of multiple-occupant, gender-neutral restroom facilities with lockable single occupant stalls.

 Regardless of the physical layout of a worksite, all employers need to find solutions that are safe and convenient and respect transgender employees.

Under these best practices, employees are not asked to provide any medical or legal documentation of their gender identity in order to have access to gender-appropriate facilities. In addition, no employee should be required to use a segregated facility apart from other employees because of their gender identity or transgender status. Under OSHA standards, employees generally may not be limited to using facilities that are an unreasonable distance or travel time from the employee’s worksite.
By Troy Walsh

Monday, August 31, 2015

Self Inspections

Inspecting the workplace for hazards is one method the city can use to comply with the following component of the Minnesota AWAIR program: “ the methods used to identify, analyze and control new or existing hazards, conditions and operations.” 

 The inspection process is a structured way to identify any hazards or deficiencies which 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.  Then use an inspection tool to document the inspection results.  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. 

 A sub-group of committee members, typically two, conduct the inspections with the area manager and an employee representative.  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.  

Purpose of the inspection
  • Uncover unsafe conditions
  • Help promote the safety program to workers
  • Provide an additional set of eyes to identify hazards before an accident or injury occurs, and
  • Help promote and encourage self-inspection by line supervisors and employees
Preparation for inspections
  • People conducting the inspection must be informed, through training or hands on experience, about typical operations and potential hazards in the inspected area.
  • Determine which standards will apply
  • Define the work area and plan the inspection route
  • Review any previous inspections and results and look for any outstanding work orders
  • Make or obtain a checklist to document the findings.  This will serve as a guide for the inspectors. 
Conducting the inspection
  • Inspect while employees are working if possible
  • Stay focused and alert for hazards
  • Take notes of all hazards and unsafe practices
  • Check all areas
  • Be constructive and don’t place blame
  • Look for why conditions exist
  • Be advisory not argumentative
  • Discuss recommendations with supervisor or manager
  • Try to sell your recommendation and the importance of any corrections.
The OSHA regulations, despite popular belief, have been developed over time from industry experience, past injury data, hazard analysis and scientific testing. They are developed to reduce hazards and prevent both acute and chronic injuries. The following is by no means a complete list but is a sample of the inspection points and the related safety regulations.  These should be used as reference when conducting self-inspections.

By Paul Gladen

Self-Inspection Checklist and Related OSHA Codes


o   Fire exit doors do not operate                                     29CFR1910.37 (d) (2)

o   Two means of egress as required                                29CFR1910.36 (b) (1)

o   Exit routes free of obstruction                                    29CFR1910.37 (a) (3)

o   Locked exit door                                                        29CFR1910.36 (d)(1)

o   Exits route 28 inches wide                                     29CFR1910.36 (g) (2)

o   All exits marked with signs                                   29CFR1910.37 (b) (2)

o   All NON EXIT's labeled as such                            29CFR1910.37 (b) (5)

o   Direction signs to exits not marked                        29CFR1910.37 (b) (4)

o   Exit lights not illuminated                                      29CFR1910.37 (b) (1)

o    Exit letters should be six inches by 3/4 inch                               29CFR1910.37 (b) (7)

o    Emergency Action Plan                                                             29CFR1910.38 (b)


o   No ground fault circuit interrupters                                         29CFR1910.304 (b) (3)

o   Circuit breakers not labeled                                                     29CFR1910.303 (f) (1)

o   Grounding plug missing                                                          29CFR1910.304 (g) (5)

o   Ungrounded outlet                                                  29CFR1910.304 (g) (5)

o   Loose or broken electrical outlet                                             29CFR1910.305 (j) (2)

o    Exposed live wires                                                                   29CFR1910.303 (g) (2)

o   Flexible cords through doors/windows                                  29CFR1910.305 (g) (1) (iv) (c)

o   Temporary wiring used as permanent                                   29CFR1910.305 (q) (I) (iv) (a)

o   Overcurrent devices not accessible                                        291910.304 (1) (I) (iv)

o   Unused opening in box not closed                                         291910.303 (b) (7) (i)


o   Extinguishers mounted, accessible                          29CFRI910.157 (c) (1)   

o   Extinguishers fully charged                                     29CFR1910.157 (c) (4)

o   Extinguishers of the correct type                              29CFR1910.157 (d) (1)

o   Extinguishers within 75 feet                                     29CFRI910.157 (d) (2)

o   Extinguishers monthly inspection                             29CFR1910.157 (e) (2)

o   Extinguishers annual inspection                                             29CFR1910.157 (e) (3)

o   Fire alarms readily accessible                                    29CFR1910.164 (e)

o    Emergency phone numbers posted                             29CFR1910.165 (b) (4)

o   Flammable liquid storage                                          29CFR1910.106


o   Bulk combustibles in storage cabinet                       29CFR1910.106 (d) (3)

o   Combustibles in storage room                                  29CFR1910.106 (d) (3)

o    Flammable liquids in office                                      29CFR1910.106 (d) (5) (iii)

o   Hazard Communication Program                              29CFR1910.1200

o   Proper housekeeping                                             29CFR1910.141 (a) (3) (i)

o   Adequate toilet facilities                               29CFR1910. 141 (c) (1) (i)

o   Toilets with privacy                                      29CFR1910.141 l (c) (2)(i)

o   Adequate washing facilities                           29CFR1910.141 (d) (2) (iii)

o   Emergency eye wash station                          29CFR1910.151 (c)


o   Grinding wheel rest not 1/8 inch                       29CFR1910.215 (a) (4)

o   Tongue guard adjusted to 1/4 inch                           29CFR1910.215 (a) (9)

o   All wheels ring tested prior to mounting                            29CFR1910.215 (d) (1)

o   Lockout Tagout Program                                            29CFR1910.147

o   Machine guards in place                                  29CFR1910.212 (a) (11)

o   Eye and face protection                                   29CFR i910.133

o   Eyewash stations                                            29CFR1910.151(c)


o   Roof/pipe leaks – wet floor                                        29CFR1910.22 (a) (2)

o   Slip hazard/broken door                                              29CFR1910.22 (l)

o   Aisles clear and in good repair                                    29CFR1910.22 (b) (i)

o   Fixed Ladder over 20 feet without cage                    29CFR1910.27 (d) (l) (iii)

o    Guarding floor and wall openings                              29CFR1910.23


o   Gas cylinder caps in place                                  29CFR1910.253 (a) (2) (iii)

o   Gas cylinders marked                                        29CFR1910.253 (b) (1) (ii)

o   Gas cylinders 20 feet from combustibles             29CFR1910.253 (b) (2)(ii)

o   Acetylene cylinders stored upright                      29CFR1910.253 (b) (3) (ii)

o   Oxygen cylinders near oil or grease                    29CFR1910.253 (4) (i)

o   Oxygen cylinders separated from fuel                 29CFR1910.253 (4) (iii)


o   General Duty Clause                                                   PL 91-156

  o     Forklift Seat belt in use                                               General Duty Clause

o   Respiratory Protection when required                        CFR1910.134

o   Forklift Training                                                          29CFR1910.178 (1)

o   Record keeping                                                           29CFR1904