Friday, February 26, 2016

Is Infrared Thermography Part of your Preventative Maintenance Program?

   Does your city have an IR or infrared electrical survey program as part of your preventative or predictive maintenance program? Better yet, has your city had an electrical survey done at your building in the past 10 years? How about ever? Most facilities have never had an infrared inspection.  According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2011 there were 47,700 structural fires in the U.S. which were caused by some sort of electrical malfunction. Those fires resulted in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage.

   Effective use of Infrared thermography surveys of the electrical systems in buildings can detect maintenance issues such as loose connections, overheating circuits and motors, as well as other electrical problems which if left uncorrected could lead to overheating of circuits and components resulting in a fire. At the very least it could cause an electrical short or equipment failure which can lead to downtime and larger maintenance and repair costs.

   IR inspections can also be useful in the detection of water intrusion issues, building insulation problems, heat and air loss, and HVAC problems. In mechanical equipment, IR testing can detect over heating bearings, motors, pumps, and switches, as well as problems with the aforementioned electrical connections, components and lines. Some cities have already started to use Infrared thermography as part of the overall preventative maintenance program for their buildings and equipment resulting in reduced overall maintenance costs, as well as a decline in the number of large losses.

   A study by the Federal Energy Management Program estimates that preventative maintenance can save 30%-40% over reactive maintenance. On the other hand, in the event of a catastrophic breakdown or fire, the savings of an effective preventative maintenance program would be much higher when you look at overall added labor, overtime, replacement costs, and downtime cost associated with a large loss.

   If your city decides to incorporate thermography inspections into your preventative maintenance program you will want to have an effective, documented program with established written inspection procedures for measurement and collection, and interpretation of data. You will want to follow the same steps each time to ensure consistent measurements and accurate data points for comparison of readings. Also, you will want to follow any and all safety precautions and procedures where necessary to ensure the inspections are done safely, and don’t subject the person conducting the inspection to unsafe conditions. The inspection program should outline and ensure everyone follows safety procedures and uses appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary. If hiring an outside service to provide the inspection you want to make sure they follow the above procedures to ensure accurate data and effective results.

By: Paul Gladen, Loss Control Consultant

Friday, February 19, 2016

Stay Visible and Stay Safe

Many of the job tasks LMCIT member employees work on daily involve working in the street right-of-way. This may include pothole filling, crack filling, water main break repair, sewer line maintenance, tree trimming, and the list goes on and on. Working in the street right-of-way requires high-visibility garments like vests, and temporary traffic control devices such as barricades and cones.

Q: Who is required to wear high-visibility clothing?
A: Each employee exposed to or working adjacent to moving motor vehicles as part of the employee’s assigned job shall be provided with and required to wear a high-visibility warning vest or other high-visibility garment, as required by Minnesota Rules 5207.0100. A high-visibility garment is defined as being a Performance Class 2 garment or greater as specified by the American National Standards Institute and International Safety Equipment Association in ANSI/ISEA Standard 107-2004.

Q: When is temporary traffic control needed?
A: Any public or private agency performing work within the right-of-way of streets or highways open to public travel is responsible for supplying, installing, and maintaining all necessary traffic control devices. The specifics are outlined in the Temporary Traffic Control Zone Layouts Field Manual, which is a section of the Minnesota Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

Q: Where can employees learn how to set up temporary traffic control?
A: The Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program (MNLTAP) conducts training throughout the state in late winter each year and also offers an online tutorial.
The live training is called “Work-Zone Safety, Temporary Traffic Control, and Flagging.” In this four-hour comprehensive workshop, attendees will learn key elements required for temporary traffic control, safety, and flagging.

The online tutorial, called “Orientation to Work Zone Safety”, addresses many of the hazards inherent in road and street work and how these dangers can be minimized to keep motorists, pedestrians, and employees safe.


By: Joe Ingebrand, CSP, LMCIT Senior Loss Control Consultant

Friday, February 12, 2016

Baby, It’s Cold Out There!

We live in Minnesota and the fact is that our winters are cold.  Those of us that work outdoors need to pay attention to the cold at a greater level than your average person as we may be exposed to cold stress.  When working outdoors in extreme temperatures for extended periods of time, we need to pay attention to our body and potential systems, as well as our co-worker’s.  Extremely cold or wet weather can cause hypothermia or frostbite at a much more rapid pace than we would expect.

Hypothermia is when the body uses up its stored energy and can no longer produce heat.  This condition often occurs after prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.  Being aware of the symptoms is necessary when working outdoors during our Minnesota winters. 
Early Symptoms:
·         Shivering
·         Fatigue
·         Loss of Coordination
·         Confusion and disorientation

Late Symptoms:
·         No shivering
·         Blue skin
·         Dilated pupils
·         Slowed pulse and breathing
·         Loss of consciousness

First Aid Steps:
·         Request IMMEDIATE medical assistance
·         Move the victim to a warm room, shelter, or vehicle
·         Remove wet clothing
·         Warm the center of the body first –chest, neck, head, and groin – using an electric blanket or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, or towels
·         If conscious, warm beverages may help increase the body temperature - Do not give alcohol
·         If no pulse, begin CPR
Frostbite is an injury that is caused by freezing.  Frostbite most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes.  Again, being aware of the symptoms can save you from permanent injury to your body. 
·         Reduced blood flow to hands and feet
·         Numbness
·         Aching
·         Tingling or stinging
·         Bluish or pale, waxy skin

First Aid Steps:
·         Get into a warm room, shelter, or vehicle immediately
·         Unless necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes
·         Immerse the affected area(s) in warm (not hot) water, or warm the affected area with body heat.  Do not use a heating pad, fireplace, or radiator for warmth as your sense of heat will be impacted leading to potential for burning.
·         Do not massage the frostbitten area; doing so can cause more damage

·         Monitor your physical condition and that of your co-workers
·         Wear appropriate clothing
o   Wear several layers of loose clothing for insulation; tight clothing reduces blood circulation to the extremities
·         Be aware that some clothing may restrict your movement and result in a hazardous situation
·         Protect the ears, face, hands and feet in extremely cold or wet weather
o   Boots should be waterproof and insulated
o   Wear a hat to reduce the loss of body heat from your head
·         Move into warm locations for breaks; limit the amount of time outside
·         Carry extra socks, gloves, hats, jacket, blankets, change of clothes and thermos of hot liquid
·         Include chemical hot packs in your first aid kits
·         Avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin.
While this all may be information you have known since grade school, it is an important reminder that we do not become immune to these conditions as we age. 

By: Tara A. Bursey

Friday, February 5, 2016

MN LTAP: Work-Zone Traffic Control Seminars

Improving safety while working next to vehicle traffic requires specific attention. The objectives regarding temporary traffic control zones are first to create a safe work zone for city workers, and second to safely direct traffic.

This seminar provides an overview of basic traffic control procedures for work zones. The latest in traffic control devices and safety devices are presented, including several unique approaches to traffic control and methods for reducing risk and liability.


The workshop is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon at the specified locations on the dates listed below.

• February 18, 2016—City Center Hotel, 101 Main Street, Mankato, MN
• February 23, 2016—Ramada Inn, 1517 16th St. SW, Rochester, MN
• February 25, 2016—Holiday Inn, 75 S. 37th Ave., St. Cloud, MN
• March 3, 2016—DoubleTree Hotel, 2200 Freeway Blvd., Brooklyn Center, MN
• March 10, 2016—Holiday Inn, 20800 Kenrick Ave., Lakeville, MN
• March 29, 2016—Radisson Hotel, 505 West Superior St., Duluth, MN