Thursday, November 2, 2017

Fixed Ladders – New Walking-Working Surfaces OSHA Requirements

Say goodbye to cages and wells.  Kind of.  Over the next 20 years (based on whether a ladder is existing, is being repaired or replaced, or is a new installation), fixed ladders that are over 24’ in length will need to be equipped with ladder safety devices or personal fall arrest systems.  Cages and wells will no longer be acceptable as they have not proven to prevent falls.

If you’ve ever climbed in a caged ladder, it’s likely that at some point during your ascent you thought, “How is this round metal cage supposed to protect me from violently crashing to the ground?”  Well, it looks like you weren’t the only one.  In fact, it was widely recognized that ladder cages did nothing in terms of worker safety and fall prevention. So, as of the release of the new Walking/Working Surface standard, ladder cages are being phased out. 

Now, don’t panic if you’ve got a facility full of these. OSHA has various dates for compliance to allow for a gradual transition and to ease the financial burden on property owners/employers who find themselves needing to make a change.  For now, existing ladder cages are grandfathered in, but that will change eventually.

The first compliance date comes late next year and is the deadline for when employers must ensure that all fixed ladders have some type of safety system.  The deadline, November 19, 2018, still allows employers to select wells as their fall protection option as long as the ladder already existed. Technically, that means that a newly installed ladder between now and then could still have a cage installed because it will have been “existing” on November 19, 2018.  Of course, to make things easier going forward, employers could simply opt to install a ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system, as well, or as their main fall protection solution.

On that same date, all new fixed ladders (as well as any replacement ladders or ladder sections) will be required to be installed with either a ladder safety system or a personal fall arrest system.  No new installations will be allowed with cages or wells.

For the most part, that takes care of the near-future deadlines.  But, OSHA is phasing wells and cages out altogether, so while you may try squeezing new installations in before the deadline, keep in mind that in 20 years’ time (November 18, 2036 to be exact) all fixed ladders greater than 24’ in length will be required to have fall arrest systems or ladder safety systems. This means that your existing ladders with cages and wells will need to be retrofitted because there will no longer be any grandfathering allowed.  This is quite a way down the road, but there’s no sense in waiting 19.5 years and scrambling at the last minute to change everything in your facility.  

So, as mentioned above, this leaves you with a choice between two remaining acceptable solutions: ladder safety systems and personal fall arrest.  Most people are familiar with personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) – a harness, lanyard, and suitable anchor point.  The requirements here are no different than the requirements elsewhere: fall clearance, freefall distance, proper inspection and maintenance of equipment, anchor point capacities and training in the equipment’s use must all be taken into account just as if you were using this equipment to keep somebody from falling off the edge of a building.  Ladder safety systems, though, may be a little bit less familiar. 

While ladder safety systems still require a harness, ladder safety systems are rails or cables that run the length of the ladder vertically.  An employee “ties-off” by hooking the D-Ring of his or her harness to the trolley or rope grab and proceeds to climb.  Certain systems will require some manual action by the user while others will simply allow them to climb, locking into place only in the event of a fall.  Keep in mind that employees will need to be able to transition from the ladder to the level to which they are climbing without exposing themselves to a fall, so the ladder safety device may need to extend farther than the ladder. 

Whichever method you choose – PFAS or Ladder Safety System – employees will be safer when climbing your fixed ladders than they were while relying on a cage or well.  Make sure you train them so they can properly use the equipment and are safe.  Improperly worn/used fall protection equipment may be offering nothing more than a false sense of security.  And false senses of security make people take unnecessary risks that could lead to disaster.  Make sure to review your facility and start taking the necessary precautions now.

For more information regarding the new Walking-Working Surfaces Rule please see our previous blog post: MN OSHA Adopts Walking-Working Surfaces Federal Regulations.

By: Julie Jelen


Friday, October 6, 2017

MN OSHA Adopts Walking-Working Surfaces Federal Regulations

Minnesota has adopted the final rule from federal OSHA about walking-working surfaces and personal fall-protection systems. The new rule updates and clarifies standards, and adds training and inspection requirements. MN OSHA's final rule became effective Sept. 19, 2017.

Falls from heights and on the same level (a working surface) are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. From 2012 through 2016, Minnesota OSHA Compliance investigated 26 fatalities and 78 serious injuries due to falls.

Some requirements in the new rule have compliance dates after the effective date including:

  • Ensuring exposed workers are trained on fall hazards and the use of fall protection equipment (6 months),
  • Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages for rope descent systems (1 year),
  • Installing personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structures (2 years),
  • Ensuring existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, are equipped with a cage, well, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system (2 years), and
  • Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet (20 years).

For more information on the changes, visit the OSHA Fact Sheet.

Up next…some more information about fixed ladder safety and compliance.


By: Julie Jelen



Friday, September 29, 2017

Sorry to Say, Winter is around the Corner and so is the Cold…

During these colder months, you may have staff that feel the extra draft and request a Space Heater for their office. Adding a Space Heater can add some comfort to those feeling the chill in the air, or the draft along the floor. One of the issues with use of Space Heaters is that they come from a home or purchased at a retail store. The problem with these are they are not intended for commercial use. Commercial use Space Heaters need to UL Listed for commercial use. 

Below are a few additional hazards associated with consumer use heaters:
1.     They are not commercial grade Space Heaters and can increase the fire hazards in the commercial/city buildings.   
2.     The Space Heaters tend to remain plugged in at night and unattended during off hours.  
3.     There are typically multiple heaters plugged in a single circuit which can, and often does, over load the circuit, causing the electrical wires to overheat and may lead to a fire.  
4.     Some Space Heaters that are brought in are older units of dubious origin and could have damage or wear. This leads to an increased chance for fire due to electrical shorts and overheating.

There are some simple solutions to these issues, without an all-out ban on their use. There are low voltage commercial panel heaters designed for use in offices and cubicles. There are also commercial grade Space Heaters available for purchase, which would be a more appropriate choice for use in commercial/city office buildings. Establishing a policy regarding the use and care of heaters, including a policy to unplug heaters while not in use, can reduce the associated hazards tied to the non-commercial grade and consumer grade heaters brought from home which could have damaged heating elements or electrical cords, or have a dust bunny nest – each could contribute to the fire hazards.
Local office supply distributors can be a good source for commercial grade Space Heaters. With any Space Heater, you want to check to make sure it is not “for consumer use only”.

Hopefully this will start a conversation within your Office to ensure that everyone knows the Risks, and Works together to ensure Safety within the Workplace!


By: Troy Walsh

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Table Menu – Safety Message

Have you ever gone out to dinner and found yourself reading the stand-up menu that was placed on the table? Sometime these are advertisements, or the ever so popular drink menu. What if you took this idea to your break room or lunch table and added safety messages? 

What if you changed these messages every month, or added some simple quizzes? Could you see staff sitting at lunch discussing the day’s work, last weekend’s fishing trip, and suddenly someone asks “How do you overcome driver fatigue?” The other staff will then start thinking about it as well. Naturally there are multiple answers, but the staff randomly started discussing safety!

This is an interesting concept that some state agencies are doing with employee break rooms and lunch tables. There are a wide variety of topics, as well as quizzes, that could be installed to always keep safety on employees’ minds. Sometimes just a simple Google search for “Safety Quizzes” will give you plenty of examples to use.
Some examples of topic to use include:
·         Driver Fatigue  
·         Aerial Lifts
·         Cold & Heat Stress
·         Fall Protection
·         Overexertion Injuries
·         Work-Zone Safety
·         Ladders
·         Lifting Techniques
·         Equipment Hand-Signals
·         Confined Space

Thinking outside the box of safety training can be fun, and trying to keep safety a Priority is Important.

By: Troy Walsh


Friday, August 18, 2017

Driving Takes Time, but How do you Train for Plowing?

Winter is just a few short months away, and that’s hard to believe during the warm months of summer. Looking at your staff, have you moved someone into a Single Axle Truck for plowing that has little experience plowing? How do you prepare these employees for this type of work?

MnDOT has a Mobile Driving Simulator that can help gain some experience for these inexperienced operators. The Driving Simulator can help with trouble shooting some motor issues, to checking mirrors, and watching plows. This is not actually operating out on the road, but a great starting point to see how people can handle multi-tasking during winter weather events.

This simulator will help develop operators in things such as: controlling speed, plowing around vehicles, and keeping control of their equipment.
Simulator Fact Sheet:

MnDOT Simulator Brochure:

Training Simulator Schedule:

And don’t forget about FirstNet Learning, which you can access through the League of Minnesota Cities for your additional training needs. New courses have recently been added for: Snow Plow Safety, Backhoe Safety with Trackhoe Supplement, Bulldozer Safety, Dump Truck Safety, Street Sweeper Safety, and Road Grader Safety. FirstNet is free to members of our Regional Safety Groups, or $19 per account for our members who are not a part of a Regional Safety Group. More information on FirstNet Learning can be found on our website here:  

By: Troy Walsh

Editors Note: Don't forget that the United States will experience a Solar Eclipse on Monday, August, 21st. Solar eclipses, can cause permanent eye damage if proper safety precautions are not taken. If you, or any of your staff or coworkers plan to be working outside during this event, please be mindful of the increased risk. It is never safe to look directly at the sun, even though the temptation may be to do so during the unique solar event. Anyone who plans to view the eclipse should either do so through a viewer, or only while wearing proper eye protection. You can read more about the requirements these viewers and viewing glasses on NASA's website here:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Storm Damage Cleanup

It’s that time of year when Summer Storms will build and hit our communities quick and sometimes with force. We often rely on Public Works to move trees, check on sanitary sewer, and ensure that the infrastructure remains in operating condition.

How does your community respond to calls about fallen trees? Does your city remove the tree when they fall in the street? Do they push them to the boulevard or cut them up? Do they leave the trees to the property owner? Having an idea and/or a response policy for your storm response will help the community understand the priorities of the Public Works Department.

What if the tree falls into a private property from the park? There are always a lot of questions to answer when storms hit our communities, but somehow, we always pull together and get tasks accomplished.

Safety should always be #1 when cleaning up storm damage. Always be on the lookout for Power Lines in trees when they fall. Ensure that the Power Company has been notified and power has been removed.

Use extreme caution when clearing trees with chain saws and when working around the general public. Minnesota Nice and a Bonding Community means everyone wants to help, and that is a Great Plan. Ensure Safety to you and the Public during these events…

By: Troy Walsh

Friday, August 4, 2017

Confined Space Entry Refresher:

OSHA Regulations on Confined Space Entry can seem complicated and difficult to understand why they are necessary.  The following overview is an attempt to provide context to the rules and procedures. Be aware that the next time you read about a confined space fatality, at least one of these general rules was probably violated. So, do your best to ensure that it won’t ever happen at your city.

1. Monitor the atmosphere

Atmospheric monitoring is the first and most critical rule as most fatalities in confined spaces are the result of atmospheric problems. Remember your nose is not a gas detector! Some hazards will have characteristic odors, but others will not. Use a properly calibrated 4-gas meter continuously during the confined space entry.

2. Eliminate or control hazards

All hazards identified during the hazard assessment must be eliminated or controlled prior to entering the space. Elimination, the preferred method for dealing with hazards, means that a hazard has been handled in a way that it cannot possibly have an impact on the operation.

For example, a properly installed blank eliminates the hazard of material being introduced through a pipe. Ventilation can also control the build-up of a dangerous atmosphere during an entry.

3. Ventilate the space

Your approach to atmospheric problems should be to correct the condition prior to entry, and ventilation and related activities are the best options for correcting these problems. Forced-air ventilation is generally the most effective approach for confined space entry operations.

4. Use proper personal protective equipment

Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) should be the last line of defense. Elimination and control of hazards should be done whenever possible, but PPE is essential when the hazards present cannot be eliminated or controlled through other means.

5. Isolate the space

Isolation of the space should eliminate the opportunity for introducing additional hazards through external connections. This includes lockout of all powered devices associated with the space, such as electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, and gaseous agent fire control systems.

6. Know the attendant’s role

An outside attendant must be present to monitor the safety of the entry operation, to help during an emergency, and to call for assistance from outside if that becomes necessary. The attendant’s role is primarily to help ensure that problems do not escalate to the point where rescue is needed.


7. Be prepared for rescues

Any equipment required for rescue must be available to those who are designated to use it. External retrieval equipment that may be used by the attendant must be in place when appropriate. More advanced rescue equipment for entry-type rescues must be available to the designated rescue crew.

8. Use effective lighting

Lighting is important for two primary reasons: You cannot safely perform in environments where you cannot see adequately, and lighting failure can cause fear. Anyone who is uncomfortable inside a well-lit confined space may become afraid if the lighting fails, and fear can cause people to behave irrationally and injure themselves or others.

9. Emphasize constant communication

Effective communications are critical to safe operation and are the string that ties all the other activities together. Communication must be maintained between entrants and the attendant. The attendant must also be able to contact the entry supervisor and call for emergency help.

10. Eliminate the entry

The safest way to reduce the hazard of confined space entry is to not do it. Developing an alternative method where employee do not enter confined spaces at all, or as often, such as: lifting pumps out of confined space, remote grease fitting, remote meters, vacuum extractors, etc. can all help in achieving this goal.

LMCIT Model Permit Required Confined Space Entry Policy

By: Joe Ingebrand

Editor's Note: Don't forget that OSHA's new crystalline silica rule is set to go into effect soon. It was originally slated to go into effect at the end of June, however enforcement was delayed to provide for employee education. It is now set to start being enforced starting September 23, 2017.

We previously published a blog back in May on the rule change should you need a brief reminder of what the new standard entails.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Parade Safety Reminder

Parades are part of what brings our Minnesota communities together. Whether your city is celebrating with a 4th of July parade or any other city-specific parade, the best parade is fun, safe, and inclusive. Unfortunately, accidents still occur as illustrated below:

July 8, 2017

Trailer runs over child during parade in central Minnesota

The patrol said a pickup, driven by a parade participant, was towing a trailer as part of the parade on the highway, also known as Main Street, and had stopped while children were picking up candy near the vehicle. The pickup began moving again when a passenger in the truck, saw a child under the rear tire of the trailer.

The vehicle backed up off the child and emergency responders were immediately on the scene. The 7 year old injured child was then air-lifted to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

A favorite component of a parade is the distribution of candy, prizes, and flyers. Traditionally, these items are thrown from vehicles. The problem is the combination of excited children and large vehicles/trailers with poor visibility can lead to tragedy as the example illustrates. The solution is to have walkers handing out these items. This will reduce the temptation for children to go near the parade vehicles. Implementing this rule, and reminding participates of its importance, will help to prevent this type on tragedy!

For more information on Parade Safety please see Section VIII-D of our Parks & Recreation Loss Control Guide.

By: Joe Ingebrand

Friday, June 9, 2017

Workers feeling the heat?

Without staying hydrated and taking breaks, workers could experience anything from dehydration to death resulting from heat-related illness.

Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards. This includes protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program. Things to consider when developing this program include:

·       Provide workers with water, rest, and shade.
·       Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize and build a tolerance for working in the heat.
·       Plan for emergencies, and train workers on prevention
·       Monitor workers for signs of illness

Drinking water and staying hydrated in crucial in preventing heat related illness

To help workers combat heat stress OSHA has a mobile app available on Google Play and the iTunes app store free for download. Workers often check their phones, so this is a tech-savvy way to remind them to be healthy and stay safe. The Heat Safety Tool app first determines your location, then, it will calculate the heat index and display the risk level to outdoor workers. The app can assist workers by alerting them when to take breaks.

Prevention of heat stress in workers is important. Employers should provide training to workers so they understand what heat stress is, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be prevented. Here is a handy fact sheet to post on signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses.


By: Julie Jelen, Loss Control Consultant



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy Public Works Week!

Thank you for keeping our streets paved, our water clean and running, and for the million other things you do to keep our cities functioning. The League of Minnesota Cities thanks you for what you do every day, and for doing it safely.



By: League of Minnesota Cities


Friday, May 12, 2017

OSHA New Crystalline Silica Rule

OSHA is issuing two standards to protect workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica—one for construction, and the other for general industry and maritime. City employees would likely fall under the construction standard when engaged in activities related to streets, sidewalks, sewer, etc.
Exposure can occur during common construction tasks such as using masonry saws, grinders, drills, jackhammers, handheld powered chipping tools, milling, and using heavy equipment for demolition or certain other tasks.
What does the standard require?

Two Options:

I. Employers can either use a control method laid out in Table 1* of the construction standard.
II. They can measure workers’ exposure to silica and independently decide which dust controls work best to limit exposures to the PEL in their workplaces.

Regardless of which exposure control method is used, all construction employers covered by the standard are required to:
  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers, including procedures to restrict access to work areas where high exposures may occur.
  • Designate a competent person to implement the written exposure control plan.
  • Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where feasible alternatives are available.
  • Offer medical exams—including chest X-rays and lung function tests—every three years for workers who are required by the standard to wear a respirator for 30 or more days per year.
  • Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure.
  • Keep records of workers’ silica exposure and medical exams.

*Table 1 (Example) Specific Exposure Control Method for using a hand held concrete saw equipped with a continuous water feed to control dust, outside and less than four hour, no respiratory protection needed. If over four hours outdoors or in enclosed areas, respiratory protection needed.

                                                      (Wet method- dust control system)           

                                           (Dry method- employee likely exposed to Silica)

OSHA Fact Sheet Crystalline Silica Rule:

By Joe Ingebrand, Senior Loss Control Consultant


Friday, April 7, 2017

Don’t Blow Your Top! Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspection

On a recent Safety and Loss Control Visit to a member city I was asked the question: “Who is supposed to do inspections on our air compressor, and what is the criteria for which vessels need inspecting?”

Well, I told my contact that if you have your boiler coverage through LMCIT that is a service we provide. LMCIT works with representatives from FM Global who provides this service to our members.  FM Global completes over 1000, what are known as Jurisdictional Inspections for LMCIT, each year. Certain boiler and pressure vessels require regular inspections to ensure compliance with local regulations. This includes construction, installation, and operating codes and standards. The State of MN allows insurance carriers to perform these inspections. A representative from FM Global works with each LMCIT member in the property program to review operating conditions, maintenance and operating procedures, adequacy of safety devices to protect the equipment, and repairs and/or alterations to restore equipment conditions. The result is jurisdictional equipment that is both compliant and resilient.

What’s the Criteria for Inspection? The criteria listed below will help you determine if an inspection should be taking place.
Your boiler does not have to be inspected if it is:
  1. Located on a farm, or under federal control
  2. Located in a residence purposes for not more than 5 families
  3. A hot water heating boiler with a heat input not exceeding 750,000 Btu/Hr
  4. A railroad boiler used for transportation purposes
  5. A manually fired boiler for model locomotives, tractors. Boats or antique vehicles providing the inside diameter does not exceed 12 inches, and the grate area does not exceed 2 square feet.
Your hot water heater does not have to be inspected if it:
  1. Has a capacity of 120 gallons or less
  2. Has a heat input of 500,000 btu/hr or less
  3. Operates at a pressure of 160 psi of less
  4. Operates at a temperature of 210 F or less
Your pressure vessel does not have to be inspected if:
  1. It is an air tank less than 5 cubic feet in volume (37.5 gallons) and a safety valve set at 100 psi.
  2. It is an air tank installed on a right of way railroad.
  3. It has an inside diameter of less than 6 inches, and a length not exceeding 36 inches.
  4. It is a vessel containing water at a pressure not exceeding 300psi and temperature not exceeding 210 F
  5. It has a maximum working pressure of 15 psi.
  6. It contains liquefied petroleum gasses, or located in a petroleum refinery
  7. It is an air tank installed on a passenger bus, truck or trailer
  8. Is located on a farm
  9. It is a laundry or dry cleaning presser under 5 cubic feet (37.5 gallons)

All information for pressure, volume, and capacity will be located on the nameplate of the object.

If your boiler, hot water heater, or pressure vessel is not excluded, and should be getting inspected, please contact: or your LMCIT Underwriter.

By: Joe Ingebrand, CSP, Senior Loss Control Consultant

Friday, March 17, 2017

March is Ladder Safety Month!

Are you putting your best foot forward? March 2017 is the first-ever National Ladder Safety Month! In the United States, more than 164,000 people are treated from ladder injuries in the emergency room and more than 300 die from falls from ladders. National Ladder Safety Month is the only movement dedicated exclusively to the promotion of ladder safety, at home and at work.

There are five major causes for ladder fall incidents:
  1. Incorrect extension ladder setup angle — In approximately 40% of cases, the leading cause of ladder-related injuries is a ladder sliding out at the base due to an incorrect setup angle. Ladder users tend to set extension ladders at shallower angles than the optimal desired angle (75 degrees).
  2. Inappropriate ladder selection — Selection of a ladder with the proper duty-rating is also important to avoid structural failure. However, many ladder users lack knowledge of proper ladder selection.
  3. Insufficient ladder inspection — You can reduce the likelihood of ladder structural failure by practicing regular inspection and maintenance.
  4. Improper ladder use — Activities such as overreaching, carrying objects, applying excessive force, slips, and missteps are also frequent causes of ladder-related fall injuries.
  5. Lack of access to ladder safety tools and information — Small companies that account for up to 80% of all construction companies, and individual ladder users, such as homeowners, do not typically receive the required training for safe use of portable ladders. Such ladder users are difficult to reach, often do not have access to safety information, and generally lack the resources to develop or follow an effective ladder safety program.
Picture taken from the OSHA Quick Card on
Portable Ladder Safety

Yes, there is an app for that!

Download NIOSH's free, award-winning Ladder Safety app from the Apple Store or Google Play to improve extension and step ladder safety with user-friendly guides and interactive tools to prevent ladder-related fall injuries and deaths.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on new OSHA requirements for fixed ladders. OSHA has revised its Walking-Working Surfaces & Fall Prevention requirements in 2017, creating new definitions, rules, and responsibilities for employers.

Submitted by: Julie Jelen, Loss Control Consultant

Friday, February 24, 2017

MNOSHA's top 10 most common citations in 2016

How is your city doing? Are you keeping your employees safe with proper training? Reviewing your safety policies annually and actually following them? Each year Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA) Compliance publishes its lists of the most frequently cited workplace safety and health standards for the construction industry, general industry, and all industries combined.

MNOSHA top 10 for 2016
  1. Hazard communication (296 citations)
  2. Fall protection in construction (285 citations)
  3. Employee right-to-know training (276 citations)
  4. A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction (AWAIR) program (170 citations)
  5. Machinery and machine guarding -- general requirements (154 citations)
  6. The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) (150 citations)
  7. Respiratory protection (145 citations)
  8. Electrical wiring methods, components and equipment in general industry (92 citations)
  9. Powered industrial trucks (86 citations)
  10. General requirements for scaffolds (84 citations)
Fact sheets with charts of the top 10 most-frequently cited standards for the construction industry and general industry are available at

As a reminder, if you need additional training and compliance assistance, the League of Minnesota Cities offers Regional Safety Groups (RSGs) as well as web-based FirstNet Safety Training.


By: Julie Jelen, Loss Control Consultant

Friday, February 17, 2017

Another Success - A MN/OSHA Grant Story!

The City of Victoria recently applied for a OSHA Safety Grant to help with employee safety and to minimize employee risk when installing posts and trees. The City reviewed how they were installing sign posts and wanted to minimize the cost of renting an air compressor while also reducing the manual pounding of posts. The City of Victoria was awarded a Gas Post Pounder through the Minnesota OSHA Safety Grant for about $2500.

The City also applied for another tool on their OSHA Grant application. Victoria had been digging post holes and installing basketball hoops by manually digging them out; they also needed a safer way to install trees in their parks. After renting an auger attachment and continuously seeing the employee benefits they added it to their grant application and it was approved as well. The recent auger acquisition is waiting for the spring months to be put to work. The Auger Attachment was purchased for about $1800.

By: Troy Walsh

Friday, January 27, 2017

Are your seasonal workers properly trained?

Seasonal workers, whether winter or summer, are required to be trained. Seasonal employees need to receive the same level of safety training as other workers. Make sure they:

§  are briefed on overall safety training in addition to being given site-specific training

§  aren’t made to do only tasks that are especially dangerous

§  are given the correct PPE for each job, as well as training on how and when to use it

Minnesota OSHA requires that all employees are trained annually on Employee Right-to-Know, which includes hazardous substances, harmful physical agents, and infectious agents that are present in the workplace. The city is also responsible in making sure each employee understands the city’s Emergency Action Plan and AWAIR policy (A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction program). This can be done at the New Employee Orientation and/or annually reviewed.  For a full list on training requirements, contact your LMCIT Loss Control Consultant.

In addition to those OSHA required training mentioned above, some jobs have other hazards that require training specific to the tasks the employee performs.   This could include specific training on equipment, such as forklifts or PPE.  The city is responsible for making sure the employee understands the training and retains all training records.

How can we get this training?

If you are part of the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) Regional Safety Group (RSG), your RSG Coordinator can help to ensure compliance and proper training is being met. Other top training programs, such as Minnesota Municipal Utility Association’s (MMUA) Safety Training program, will also ensure employees are trained with accurate recordkeeping.

Another great option is LMCIT’s FirstNet Safety Training.  FirstNet Safety Training is an affordable and convenient web-based training for all employees.  This tool provides access to more than 45 online training courses covering a wide variety of safety topics that can provide basic training for new employees, as well as refresher training for experienced and seasonal employees. FirstNet Safety Training will also help you track participation and learning outcomes.  To view a full list of courses, visit the FirstNet Safety Training Courses page. Keep in mind, each city has their own unique hazards and can’t solely rely on online training programs. For more information on FirstNet Safety Training or joining a RSG, contact Kristen LeRoy, LMCIT Program Manager (651) 281-1268 or (800) 925-1122.

By: Julie Jelen, Loss Control Consultant

Friday, January 20, 2017

Winter Safety Tips

It’s January, and that means we are in the thick of our Minnesota winter (even if it is a temperate 38 degrees outside as I am writing this). We may be going through an unseasonably warm streak right now, but looking ahead in the weather forecast the cold and snow we are more accustomed to will be back soon, so here are some winter safety tips.

Cold Weather
When working outdoors or in unheated areas this time of year, it is important to be mindful of the dangers of cold stress. This includes Frostbite and Hypothermia which we have previously written a blog about here.
Two things that you can do to protect yourself from the cold are wear appropriate clothing and be mindful of how your body is reacting to the cold. When it’s cold out, wear plenty of layers and limit the amount of skin you have that is exposed to the cold and wind by wearing gloves, knit hats, etc. When it’s sub-zero out, you should ideally have no skin exposed and should be limiting the amount of time you are spending outdoors. The next thing you can do is be mindful of how your body is reacting to the cold. When it is cold and your body temperature starts to drop, your body will start to focus its blood flow on your core as a way of protecting your vital organs. This means that blood flow to your extremities such as arms and legs will be decreased. An early warning sign of this decreased circulation will be numbness in your fingers and toes, so if you start to feel this numbness despite wearing gloves, heavy socks and insulated boots, you need to get out of the cold immediately.

The Minnesota Department of Labor has some additional information that can be found here:

Look on the bottom of that article for additional links and resources from federal OSHA and NIOSH that can also help you be safe in the cold. 

Frozen Pipes
During the winter months, especially January when it is not uncommon for us to go a full week with temperatures only in the negative digits, you should be very mindful of the risks of frozen water and sewer lines. This is a topic that we have covered extensively in other blogs, for easy access, we compiled links to all of them into a single post last year that you can find here.
The risk of water line freeze-ups is one of the reasons why it is important to make sure the water is shut off in any vacant buildings unless of course, the city wishes to keep any sprinkler systems in those buildings active. If the city does decide to keep the sprinkler or water system in a vacant building active the heat should remain on as well, and the building should be inspected frequently during cold snaps to ensure no pipes have frozen and burst.
Did you know that the Minnesota Department of Transportation has a website that allows you to track road conditions? allows you to track road conditions of all roads maintained by the state DOT. You can see how the roads rate after snow storms between “normal”, “partially covered”, “completely covered” and “travel not advised”. The website also allows you to track traffic speeds, see where any accidents have occurred, and look at photos taken by state traffic cameras. Aside from the website, there is also an app that you can download to your phone.
As Public Works employees you are usually the ones clearing the roads of snow for the rest of us, so this may not be as useful to you, but informing your citizens about this useful tool could help prepare them for the snowy roads and prevent accidents. As someone who has to travel a lot for work, I know the app has been extremely helpful to me on more than one occasion.

By: Cody Tuttle

Friday, January 6, 2017

Building a Better Mouse Trap

Have you ever completed a job and thought, “there has got to a better way to complete these tasks”? Thinking outside the box with your normal everyday operations could help in making the job easier and/or safer!

Did you know that the Minnesota Local Transportation Agencies (LTAP) has a Grant Program for ideas such as this?  Local Operational Research Assistance Program (OPERA) is a Grant Program that could help some of these ideas come true! The below link will guide you to past projects that have been completed as well as some video’s on these completed projects.

National LTAP also has Archives of not only the Minnesota projects, but the national project competition, called the “Build a Better Mousetrap”, winners. Build a Better Mousetrap will review the 2015 National Entry’s as well as entries back to 2009. These inventions and ideas could be applied to your organization to help make the Job Easier and Possible Safer!

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