Friday, June 24, 2016

Mosquito Transmitted Diseases- from Aedes to Zika!

While news of the Zika virus is currently flooding the airwaves, other mosquito transmitted diseases in Minnesota continue to be present.
According to the MN Department of Health, “local Zika virus transmission is not a concern to Minnesota residents since the mosquito species that transmit the virus are not established in this state. However, individuals who travel to affected areas may become sick and should either consider delaying travel (particularly for pregnant women) or follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list 19 cases of Zika Virus in Minnesota as of June 15, 2016, all of these cases are described as: Travel-associated cases. (i.e. Travelers returning from affected areas, their sexual contacts, or infants infected in utero.)
CDC’s maps indicate that mosquitos carrying the disease are limited to the Southern United states but could reach Southern MN.
Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections. (
Mosquito Transmitted diseases in Minnesota
  • West Nile Virus (WNV)
    West Nile virus is a disease transmitted to people, horses, and birds. It is the most commonly reported mosquito-transmitted disease in Minnesota. Most people infected with West Nile virus show no symptoms or flu-like symptoms, but some (primarily elderly) have more severe illness. West Nile virus was found in Minnesota in 2002 and will remain a public health concern in the foreseeable future. In 2014, 21 cases of WNV disease were reported in Minnesota.
Others types are as follows:

Preventing Mosquito Exposure
  • Reduce or eliminate mosquito breeding grounds (i.e., sources of stagnant or standing water).
  • Cover as much skin as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when possible.
  • Avoid use of perfumes and colognes when working outdoors.
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin on skin that is not covered by clothing.
  • Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be exposed. The more DEET or Picaridin a repellent contains, the longer time it can protect you.
  • Spray insect repellent on the outside of your clothing (mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing).
  • Do NOT spray insect repellent on skin that is under clothing.
  • After working, use soap and water to wash skin and clothing that has been treated with insect repellent.
  • Be extra vigilant from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active


Interim Guidance for Protecting Workers from Occupational Exposure to Zika Virus:
CDC Zika in the United States



By: Joe Ingebrand


Monday, June 6, 2016

New Federal OSHA Reporting Rules

Federal OSHA’s final rule on injury reporting policies will be effective January 2017. This rule does not change what information is currently collected; rather it changes how the information is reported and, for the first time, this information will be publicized on-line. 

NOTE: Minnesota OSHA must still adopt its rules for our state based on the new federal rule.  State rules must be as strict as or stricter than the federal rules.  As a result, the following is the MINIMUM you can expect to see in the Minnesota OSHA rules when they are adopted.


The new federal OSHA rules apply only to certain types of cities:

If yours is a city or municipal entity of 250 or more employees including paid on call fire, police, EMS or other “volunteers” who, if injured, would be covered under MN Workers’ Compensation rules, then this new rule will apply to you.  In addition, employers with between 20 to 249 employees in “certain high risk industries” such as utilities, solid waste collection, water or wastewater treatment, healthcare facilities, amusement parks and arcades, or transit systems just to name a few, then your entity will likely also need to comply.

Cities subject to the new rule must:

  1. Begin electronic submission of employee injury records: OSHA 300, 300A and 301.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently ask only a few employers to submit their OSHA 300 logs.  Under the new regulation, all affected employers will submit electronic records.  The forms remain the same: OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses; Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses; and OSHA Form 301, Injury and Illness Incident Report.
  2. Public, searchable database of employers’ history of work injuries. According to the Federal Assistant Secretary of Labor, "Our new rule will 'nudge' employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers, and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable 'big data' researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer."
  3. Incentive program cautions.  Employee incentive programs, for example prizes for no lost time, get implemented by safety committees or management to reduce workplace injuries.  These programs often backfire and actually cause employees, through peer pressure and or management pressure, not to report injuries.  OSHA has a long history of frowning on incentive programs.  The new regulation narrowly defines what OSHA will consider acceptable.  “OSHA encourages incentive programs that promote worker participation in safety-related activities, such as identifying hazards or participating in investigations of injuries, incidents, or “near misses.””
  4. Informing employees of their rights under the rule.  Employers must establish a reporting procedure that does not deter or discourage an employee from reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.  Federal “OSHA already prohibits any person from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee who reports a fatality, injury, or illness. However, currently OSHA may not act under that section unless an employee files a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the retaliation.” In contrast, “under the final rule, OSHA will be able to cite an employer for retaliation even if the employee did not file a complaint, or if the employer has a program that deters or discourages reporting through the threat of retaliation.”

For your reading pleasure, here is a link to the new Federal rule: Federal Recordkeeping and Reporting Occupational Injuries.  

By: Cheryl Brennan

Friday, June 3, 2016

Mutual Boiler RE - Preventing Damaging Power Surges

With Spring here and Summer on the way we have already seen more than a few thunderstorms. The lightning in these storms has the potential to cause dangerous power surges that can damage property and equipment.
Our partners at Mutual Boiler RE recently published an article in their Spring Gears in Motion newsletter with some helpful tips on how to protect yourself from these damaging power surges:
P.S. If you are working outside when a storm starts, please err on the side of caution and seek shelter.

By: LMCIT Loss Control