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.