Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Vice President Government Affairs and Industry Relations

Final Push For Emotional Support Animal Legislation
As you may recall, AAM is supporting a two-bill legislative effort to help prevent the false representation of possession of an emotional support animal (ESA). The first bill, House Bill 4910, would create the “Misrepresentation of Emotional Support Animals Act.” This bill proposes the following:

  • a definitional framework for state law
  • bars individuals and health care providers from falsely representing a disability or possession of an ESA
  • allow disability documentation requests by housing providers after resident signs authorization
  • requirements for health care providers who prescribe ESAs
  • penalty provisions for violations of the law
  • allowance for lease termination for false representation
  • directive to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to establish a hotline which would receive reports of false representations and complaints.

The second bill, House Bill 4911, would amend the Revised Judicature Act to support termination of a lease for misrepresentation of an emotional support animal.
Earlier this year the Michigan House of Representatives passed both bills, and in September the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee took testimony. Additional changes were then made to House Bill 4910 to accommodate concerns expressed by the medical community. With very few days left in this legislative session, the final push is on to seek Senate passage of the bills and the Governor’s approval. If these bills are not passed by the legislature or signed by the Governor in the time left, they will need to be reintroduced in 2021 in conjunction with the new legislative session and the process starts over.

AAM Market Outlook Recording Available
Although it was disappointing that the annual AAM Market Outlook could not be held in person, our virtual version on November 5th garnered the highest attendance in the 13 years of holding this event! Please know the recording and slides are available at www.apartments.org for your viewing. A special thanks to our panelists Warren Rose, Matt Lester and Dave Ferszt for their insightful comments and exchange of ideas, our moderator David Wilkins for skillfully facilitating the discussion, and our market update presenter Kevin Dillon for his fantastic information.

We especially appreciate our sponsors who made the live stream possible:

  • Apartment Building Management Workers Compensation Self-Insured Fund/Peabody Insurance
  • Berkadia
  • First American Title
  • Greystone Bel
  • Walker & Dunlop
Posted in 2020, DECEMBER 2020 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Don’t Let Winter Catch You Off Guard

Written by Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist

With winter just around the corner, it is best to ensure that all safety measures are in place before a snow storm hits, the temperature drops or pavement starts icing over. According to the Farmer’s Almanac for the 2020-2021 winter, Michigan is expected to receive a colder and snowier winter than usual, which tends to lead to more incidents within (or outdoors of) the workplace.

For companies and businesses with company vehicles – do full inspections on your vehicles before winter hits. Ensure wiper fluids are topped off every few weeks, inspect wiper blades, see if brakes have plenty of wear left on them, the coolant levels are sufficient, and if your company is able to, switch over all company vehicles’ tires to winter tires. Winter tires are not just for driving in the deeper snow; winter tires perform better when temperatures drop below 45 degrees, even when there is no snow or ice on the road. While all-season tires do well in winter, they do not compare to how great winter tires perform below 45 degrees, and could easily save your employees from getting into an accident or spinning off the road. Lastly, ensure all employees in company vehicles have emergency bags with gloves, blankets, some food and other emergency supplies, in the event of a car breaking down or being stranded in a winter storm.

Slip and falls on ice are among the most common injuries during winter and among the easiest to prevent by just taking a few preventative steps! If you have employees coming onsite or to a jobsite, ensure salt is readily available before the first signs of freezing temperatures. Remember – even if it does not snow or rain, there still could be chances of ice as long as temperatures drop below 32 degrees. Fix any leaky gutters or downspouts as this is a common culprit, resulting in icy pavement. Designate someone, if services are not already contracted out, to monitor the weather and salt the day before any freezing temperatures are predicted. If work is performed at a jobsite or offsite, ensure that salt is available in all company vehicles. Office employees typically dress for the day they spend inside, which is why you should encourage winter boots or shoes with good traction are worn to and from their vehicles. Remember – if you find yourself having to step or walk on ice: walk like a penguin and keep your body mass over your feet!

Working outside can be very enjoyable but it also adds another element of safety concern. The most obvious safety concerns are frostbite and hypothermia. While frostbite can only occur below the freezing point, hypothermia can take place in temperatures up to 60 degrees if in water, or 50 degrees if wet (from either sweating or from work activities) and windy. What may happen is a worker builds up body heat while moving around, begins to sweat and then removes their outer layers. When that worker cools down, during a break or once work is completed, the sweat then starts to chill the body into a hypothermic state and cause health effects. It is best to remove layers before sweating occurs and then reapply layers once work is finished. The key to working in cold is to dress in layers.

Additionally, extremities are most susceptible to frostbite – good socks, shoes and working gloves must be chosen with extras available in case a glove gets damaged or goes missing.
Take the time now to plan ahead before the weather gets too bad. It is a good idea to train outside workers every late spring on heat hazards and mid to late fall on cold-weather hazards. Include in your training the signs and symptoms of cold-related injuries and what to do to prevent these.

As with all articles we publish, if you have any safety-related questions on this topic or anything else, please feel free to give me a call at 734-309-3456 or send me an email at daday@compone.net. We can come on-site and perform site-specific audits, hands-on training, accident investigation, and anything else from a safety and loss standpoint.

Posted in 2020, DECEMBER 2020 | Comments Off on Don’t Let Winter Catch You Off Guard

Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Vice President
Government Affairs and Industry Relations

Rent Control Preemption Under Attack

A group of Democratic Senators has introduced multiple bills which would dismantle the current Michigan law protecting against rent control.
The first effort, Senate Bill 1129, would completely repeal the existing law which prohibits local governments in Michigan from enacting rent control ordinances. This bill was introduced in the Michigan Senate on September 22 and has been referred to the Committee on Local Government.

A second proposal, which is a two-bill package, was introduced on the same date in the Senate. Senate Bills 1131 & 1132 propose to allow rent control in specific situations, with the potential for offsetting property tax breaks. These bills authorize local units of government the ability to limit rent for disabled individuals and senior citizens. An individual with a disability is defined in the bill as a person with either physical or mental disability that limits one or more major life activities of the individual. Senior citizen is defined in the bill as someone 62 or older, but the rent limitation would not apply to a person 70 or under unless the person has lived in their dwelling for the last five years. The legislation allows (but does not mandate) local units of government with rent control ordinances under this section to provide a property tax break to property subject to the rent control ordinance. The tax break takes the form of an exemption from ad valorem property taxes, with a specific tax taking its place. The specific tax is figured by taking the amount of tax that would have been collected on the parcel as though it was not exempt from ad valorem property tax, minus an amount determined by the local government but not exceeding the ad valorem tax. These bills have also been referred to the Committee on Local Government for consideration.

The preemption of local rent control is one of the most significant legislative accomplishments in AAM’s history. AAM will continue to oppose legislation attempting to repeal or change this law!

Posted in 2020, NOVEMBER 2020 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

MIOSHA Required Safety Training for Construction

Written by Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist

With everything that goes on day-to-day and constantly playing catch up with customers, jobs, and everything else, safety training is one of many items that may be forgotten. Safety training is not only required by law, but also significantly helps reduce worker-related injuries and keeps jobs on pace. Although it does take time away from a job – to gather individuals and prepare a course to teach – the time invested in training comes back as time well spent as compared to spending countless hours and dollars on accidents, fines and citations after they occur.

While MIOSHA’s standards are set as the bare minimum for a company or organization to follow, they provide guidelines and have shown to improve safety within a company. The following is a list of training that is required from MIOSHA, and while it is not a complete list of all safety trainings that you should be conducting, it serves as a reminder to ensure that you are within compliance and protecting your workers.

New Employee Training
When hiring new employees, it is imperative that training be performed prior to any exposure of such recognized hazards. Countless times, you will see employers waiting for weeks, even months, to conduct training for new hires so that training can be done all at once. While this may seem more economical, there is a significant portion of all accidents that occur within the first period of employment that can easily be avoided by implementing training before work is done.

Basic training should be established on the first day, or the first week of employment if the first day does not allow enough time. It should include a fundamental understanding of your company’s safety procedures, your accident prevention program, demonstration or instruction of your company’s safety data sheet management system, emergency response (including fire response, protection and evacuation procedures), usage of all applicable PPE that may be used, limitations of PPE and how to use it correctly and any other job specific tasks that the employee may perform. More extensive training may be warranted for ear protection, respirators, and other PPE that requires fit testing or health screenings.
Training is also required on particular hazards of whatever jobs or duties your company performs (such as fall hazard awareness, which may include the usage of fall protection, fall prevention, safe usage of guardrails), all MIOSHA and OSHA applicable regulation, confined space entry, machine guarding and similar hazards that encompass every day duties.

Recognized Hazards
Additional training is required for recognized hazards in specific tasks, including: cranes and derricks; usage of ladders; scaffolding; usage of excavators; hoist operations; forklift training, aerial work platform, and other motorized equipment used for lifting, moving, or deconstruction; masonry wall bracing; welding; in-depth training for powder actuating tools and positioning devices.

First Aid
MIOSHA requires that at every job-site there is an individual who is trained on First Aid and can respond with treatment, if such instance ever arises. Most certifications for first aid last for three years.

As Needed
Several of these items, in which MIOSHA and OSHA ask that you perform training for your employees, do not give parameters as to how often training should be conducted. These could fall under as needed, upon hire, or annually. It is best to ensure that these are performed as soon as possible, and often enough to ensure that no unsafe work condition is created due to the lack of training. When in doubt, you should always side on training more frequently than not enough. Over the span of a year, important information may be forgotten, which is why you will typically see annual training conducted on most of these topics.

There are few topics that require training every three years, including forklift and other powered industrial equipment. However all training is warranted when there are deviations from your company’s safety policy and what is being observed.
Additionally, retraining should occur if an incident occurs and if an audit finds error or a previously unknown hazard. Lastly, ensure that if you promote within the company and job duties are modified, existing workers should go through complete training and become qualified in all new roles.

If you need any assistance with investigating an incident or are interested in accident investigation training, please feel free to contact me at daday@compone.net or at 734-341-6620.

Posted in 2020, NOVEMBER 2020 | Comments Off on MIOSHA Required Safety Training for Construction

The Importance Of Accident Investigation

Written by Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist

The only thing worse than an accident happening, is a previous accident happening again. Incidents and accidents that occur and go without a proper accident investigation are likely to occur again. It is your responsibility as an employer or owner of a company to ensure that your employees are provided a workplace that is free of hazards, and that includes conducting a proper investigation on accidents and incidents and doing what is feasible to prevent them from happening again. The purpose of an accident investigation is to determine the root cause (the real reason) of why the incident occurred, or to find the initial hazard that set off the series of events that led up to the accident. While there are many ways to determine a root cause, it is best not to “jump to a conclusion” and assume what happened based on very little investigation

Additionally, the purpose of an accident investigation is NOT to assign blame. It is common to see untrained investigators simply put the blame or the cause of the accident on someone “not paying attention” or similar. While these components of an accident may play a part in why the accident occurred, they are not the root cause of why the incident occurred.

Finding the root cause may be as simple as just asking “why” more than a couple times. This is known as the “5 Why Analysis” and it is one of the most common forms of incident investigation you see in the workplace. It is incredibly easy to use and understand and to find root causes without much training. For example: “Lizzy was working on siding the building when she fell off the ladder and sprained her wrist” and ask the first why: “Why did Lizzy fall off the ladder?” Then follow up with the second why: “The ladder started to shift on her when she was working.” Third why: “The ladder sunk into the ground.” Fourth why: “There were missing feet on the ladder.” Fifth why: “The ladder was missing feet because the ladder was not inspected prior to use.” While this may be common sense to replace feet on a ladder, or to avoid using a ladder if it is broken or missing parts, many people may not look to inspect a ladder prior to use. A poor corrective action for this incident would be to write up Lizzy for not inspecting the ladder prior to use. This does not solve the problem, but only creates a reactive action. This does not eliminate the problem and allows the problem to still exist for all others who use ladders in a similar manner. The obvious root cause of this incident is that the missing foot was not identified prior to use. A great corrective action for this incident example would be to not only fix or replace the ladder, but additionally to also create a ladder inspection program that requires individuals to fill out a complete ladder checklist prior to use. Yes, this will take additional time, but will save the employer and employees from any future related accidents.

In addition to finding the root cause via “5 Why Analysis,” pointing out contributing factors also aids in investigation. Additional questions for this example might include:

  • Was the individual using the proper three points of contact?
  • Should the individual have fall protection gear on?
  • Was it windy or were there other weather hazards?

These are all questions that should be asked during an investigation to help aid in finding ALL the root causes. (Yes, there may be more than one root cause!) Lastly, it is unlikely that every incident will require exactly 5 questions every single time. The investigation may only require a few questions, or very well may require several more. It is your responsibility, as an investigator, to understand when you have discovered the root cause(s) and to find a adequate corrective action that will prevent the incident from occurring again.

If you need any assistance with investigating an incident or are interested in accident investigation training, please feel free to contact me at daday@compone.net or at 734-341-6620.

Posted in 2020, OCTOBER 2020 | Comments Off on The Importance Of Accident Investigation