Advocacy Update


Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations

Emotional Support Animal Bills Introduced

New legislation in the Michigan House of Representatives would strengthen state law to help prevent the false representation of possession of an emotional support animal. As you may recall, this effort originated in the last legislative session, with a bill passing the Michigan Senate before stalling the Michigan House in the final days of 2018.
House Bill 4910, introduced on September 3rd, would create the “Misrepresentation of Emotional Support Animals Act.” First, the bill would define an emotional support animal and limit these to common domestic animals. The bill also defines a housing provider as well as a health care provider.

Second, the legislation bars an individual from falsely representing a disability or possession of an emotional support animal. The housing provider may request documentation from an individual’s health care provider to confirm a disability and the need for an emotional support animal.

Third, the bill states health care providers shall not falsely represent an individual’s need for an emotional support animal, and it proposes requirements for those providers who do prescribe an emotional support animal. Those requirements include:

  • That the health care provider be licensed in Michigan or the state the individual resides
  • That the health care provider maintain a physical office space where patients are treated regularly
  • Documentation of treatment of the individual for at least 6 months before the date a housing provider requests documentation of validity of a disability and the need for an emotional support animal
  • Provide documentation in the form of a notarized letter
  • Provide the notarized letter above on an annual basis upon request
  • Fourth, the bill includes misdemeanor penalty provisions for those who knowingly violate the law, including:
  • Imprisonment for not more than 90 days
  • A fine of not more than $500.00
  • Community service for not more than 30 days
Additionally, a tenant who falsely represents an emotional support animal could face lease termination.

Finally, the bill directs the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to receive reports of an individual(s) falsely representing possession of an emotional support animal and health care providers falsely certifying the need for such an animal.

A second bill, House Bill 4911, would amend the Revised Judicature Act to support termination of a lease for misrepresentation of an emotional support animal. Both bills have been referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee for action.
Posted in 2019, October 2019 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

The Two Sides of Distracted Driving – Part II


Written by Eric Waidelich, Risk Management Professional, Rizikon Inc.
As we discussed last month, as with anything in life there are always two sides of any situation. For the second part of the series we are focusing on you, as the working bystander who might be the recipient of someone else texting and driving. Keep in mind that all of the information we are about to cover is not just for your safety, but is also an expectation of OSHA.
Understand the hazards
Working close to traffic is dangerous, whether it involves construction related activities, maintaining property or vegetation. Each work site has its own unique set of hazards. Make sure all of the affected staff are informed of the known hazards at the work site before beginning work.

Be aware that the types of hazards can change over the course of your work shift. For example, traffic volumes can increase, a large number of 16 year old “first year drivers” leaving the local high school parking lot may not know how to properly operate the vehicle in a congested area where people are working near the road, or simply may not be paying attention.

From a defensive position, automatically assume that every person who is driving a vehicle near your work area is texting and driving. Taking this mental approach will assist you in establishing a work area that will help protect you from incidents involving a distracted driver.

As we learned from the first section of this article, people under the age of 20 are involved in more fatal crashes due to distractions than any other age group.

Potential hazards around the work site

  • Consider if work vehicles will be entering or exiting the work site over the day.
  • Store your equipment and supplies in an area where they won’t get hit and you can safely access them.

Potential hazards on the road

  • Be aware if you are working near an intersection with traffic coming from multiple directions.
  • Measure how much space you have between your work site and the roadway. Be aware of your location vis-à-vis traffic, cyclists and pedestrians as you work.
  • Be aware of the visibility of approaching drivers. Check to see if there are any curves, crests of hills, trees and bushes, or parked vehicles.
Potential traffic hazards
  • Be aware of the type of traffic that is passing by – passenger vehicles, buses, large trucks.
  • Large vehicles such as commercial trucks are often wider than normal vehicles and may have protruding side mirrors.
  • Be aware of vehicles travelling faster than the speed limit.
Look at the local area
  • Identify any traffic entering or exiting nearby commercial premises that could block signage or obstruct visibility of you or your co-workers.
  • Consider any police, ambulance or fire stations you should be aware of.
  • Look at the environment
  • Consider if the weather may impact visibility of drivers (e.g., fog, heavy rain).
  • Be aware of the condition of the roads. Are they slick or slippery?
  • Be aware of any light conditions or location of the sun that may affect the drivers’ visibility.
  • Consider how the above hazards may change over the course of your work. For example:
    > Rush-hour traffic flows
    > School run traffic and parking
    > Special events
    > Weather, amount of daylight, and road surface conditions
Review this checklist before beginning your roadside work.
  • Are you aware of the hazards associated with your work site?
  • Have you had a safety briefing to review work site hazards and address safety concerns?
  • Do you understand your organization’s procedures for working safely around work vehicles and mobile equipment?
  • Are you wearing high-visibility garments? Is it clean and usable – not torn or faded?
  • Do you know your escape route in case a vehicle crosses into the work zone?
  • If you don’t know where your work site will be in advance, do you know how to identify and address site-specific hazards once you arrive at your work site?
Remember
  • Where possible, work facing traffic. This is especially important if the area is noisy or you’re wearing hearing protection.
  • Be careful not to inadvertently move closer to traffic as you work. Keep your focus; stay aware of your position.
  • Be aware of changing conditions over the course of your work shift. Traffic volumes, road surface conditions and visibility can change quickly and increase your risk.
  • Be aware of work vehicles, especially as they enter and exit the work zone. If you have any concerns about your safety – or the safety of co-workers, motorists, or pedestrians near your work site – alert your supervisor or employer. 
Information provided by Eric Waidelich of Rizikon Inc. Office: (877) 591-0300; Mobile: (313) 530-8251; Email: ewaideich@rizikon.net
Source material and statistics are from OSHA, NHTSA, and ConeZoneBC.
Posted in 2019, October 2019 | Comments Off on The Two Sides of Distracted Driving – Part II

The Two Sides of Distracted Driving

Written By Eric Waidelich, Risk Management Professional, Rizikon Inc.

As with anything in life there are always two sides of any situation. For this first part of this two-part series, we are going to focus on texting and driving as if you are the person behind the wheel. The second part of the series will focus on you, as the by-stander who might be the recipient of someone else texting and driving. Keep in mind that all of the information we are about to cover is not just for your safety, but is also a requirement of OSHA.

Texting while driving puts millions of Americans who drive on the job at risk every day. That risk continues to grow as texting becomes more widespread. As a business owner or manager, it’s your legal responsibility under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to safeguard drivers at work.

This holds true whether they drive full-time or only occasionally to carry out their work, and whether they drive a company vehicle or their own. When your workers are behind the wheel doing your company’s work, their safety is your business.

That’s why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which enforces worker safety laws, has joined with the Transportation Department, other Labor Department agencies and key associations and organizations to enlist the help and cooperation of businesses – in a nationwide outreach, education, and enforcement effort to stop the dangerous practice of texting while driving.

The Law

Your State legislature and governor make the laws regarding distracted driving. Many States now have laws against texting, talking on a cell phone, and other distractions while driving. You can visit the Governors Highway Safety Association to learn about the laws in your State. Visit https://www.ghsa.org/index.php/state-laws/issues/distracted%20driving

The Facts
  • More workers are killed every year in Motor Vehicle Crashes than any other cause.
    Distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017 alone, (newest data available).
  • Reaction time is delayed for a driver talking on a cell phone as much as it is for a driver who is legally drunk.
  • More texting leads to more crashes. With each additional 1 million text messages, fatalities from distracted driving rose more than 75%.
  • People under the age of 20 are involved in more fatal crashes due to distractions than any other age group.
  • Studies show that drivers who send or receive text messages focus their attention away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded!
Employers & Supervisors Should
  • Prohibit texting while driving. OSHA encourages employers to declare their vehicles “text-free zones” and to emphasize that commitment to their workers, customers, and communities.
  • Establish work processes that do not make it necessary for workers to text while driving in order to carry out their duties.
  • Set up clear procedures for the safe use of texting and other technologies for communicating with managers, customers, and others.
  • Incorporate safe communications practices into worker orientation, training and meetings.
  • Eliminate financial and other incentive systems that encourage workers to text while driving.
New School Year

New drivers are hitting the roads this month, in every community across the United States. Thousands of them. Remember, people under the age of 20 are involved in more fatal crashes due to distractions than any other age group.
Studies have determined that teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience. They speed, they make mistakes, and they get distracted easily – especially if their friends are in the car.


What Can You Do?

Familiarize yourself with the restrictions placed on your teen’s license can better assist you in enforcing those laws. You have the opportunity to establish some important ground rules for your teen driver. Restrict night driving and passengers, prohibit driving while using the phone, and require seat belt use at all times.

Set the example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. Be consistent between the message you tell your teen and your own driving behaviors. Novice teen drivers most often learn from watching their parents.
Don’t rely solely on a driver’s education class to teach your teen to drive. Set aside time to take your teen on practice driving sessions.

Set consequences for distracted driving. If your teen breaks a distraction rule you’ve set, consider suspending your teen’s driving privileges, or consider limiting a teen’s access to their cell phone — a punishment that in today’s world could be seen by teens as a serious consequence.

Information provided by Eric Waidelich of Rizikon Inc. Office: (877) 591-0300; Mobile: (313) 530-8251; Email: ewaideich@rizikon.net
Source material and statistics are from OSHA, NHTSA, and ConeZoneBC.
Posted in 2019, SEPTEMBER 2019 | Comments Off on The Two Sides of Distracted Driving

Advocacy Update

Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President
and Industry Relations
Bill Introduced to Require Lead Service Line Notification
New legislation in the Michigan House of Representatives would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to require resident notification of known lead service lines. House Bill 4750, introduced in June, would require that local water departments annually notify customers if their residence is served by a lead service line. In cases where the residence is a rental property, the property owner would then need to disclose the existence of the lead service line to the tenant either via the rental agreement or in a separate disclosure statement. The legislation also contains a penalty provision for knowingly violating the law. That provision provides for a civil infraction with a potential fine not to exceed $500 for multifamily rental property.
Stormwater Management Legislation Introduced
An effort to provide a statewide framework for local government stormwater management programs has been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives. House Bill 4691 mirrors previous efforts in recent legislative sessions to create what would be called the Stormwater Utility Act. As proposed, the legislation would regulate the creation of local stormwater management utilities and the adoption and content of the local ordinances supporting the utilities. The act would provide for the establishment and collection of fees to support the operation, maintenance, planning, construction and financing of the local stormwater system. Fees could include both one-time connection charges for new developments as well as a use fee to property owners. Additionally, the legislation compels local utilities to provide for reduction or elimination of fees to property owners who can demonstrate that improvements made to the property have reduced or eliminated stormwater entering the system. Finally, the bill mandates a fee appeal process be included in the local stormwater utility ordinance.
Posted in 2019, SEPTEMBER 2019 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Work Practices To Promote Office Safety

Written by Chris Wilfong, CHSP, CUSA, Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist, CompOne Administrators

An office can seem like a safe place to work compared to an industrial work environment, however, many serious accidents and injuries occur on a regular basis in offices everywhere. Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries. They can occur anywhere, whether you are in the production area or in the office.
Office workers can be injured by falls, fires and electric shock, receive cuts and bruises from office tools and furniture and can develop long-term injuries from repetitive work such as keyboarding.

SAFE WORK PRACTICES

  • Watch for obstructions which can cause tripping accidents. Cords and cables should not be placed across traffic areas. Even cords going to a power bar located next to a work station can trip a person getting up from the desk.
  • Materials should be stored in designated storage areas, not in boxes on the floor.
  • Briefcases, handbags and other personal items should be stored where no one will fall over them.
  • Keep drawers of desks and cabinets closed.
  • Clean up any spills, such as coffee or water, right way. If a spill cannot be taken care of immediately, arrange a barricade and a sign to warn people. Floors which are wet from cleaning should also be blocked off and marked by warning signs.
  • Load file cabinets from the bottom up. Serious accidents have occurred when top-heavy filing cabinets have fallen over.
  • Use safe lifting techniques. It is just as easy to receive a back injury in the office as it is in the warehouse. To pick up a heavy item, squat down beside it. Use the strength in your legs, not your back, to raise it up. Bend your knees, not your back.
  • Store sharp implements such as scissors, and letter openers separately from other items to prevent cuts and puncture wounds.
  • Be alert to electrical hazards which can cause fires and electrocution. Check for any frayed or damaged cords or plugs. Electrical repairs should be made only by qualified personnel.
  • Don’t overload electrical circuits. Extension cords are meant to be used only temporarily, so make sure the area is wired adequately for all of the electronic equipment such as computers, copiers and printers. Breakers which trip frequently are a sign of overloaded circuits.
  • Don’t use makeshift scaffolds such as a chair balanced on a desk when you are reaching for something overhead. Take the time to get a stepladder or stepstool.

Repetitive strain injuries are increasingly common in offices. When doing work such as computer keyboarding, keep your hands and wrists straight and relaxed. Frequently switch to other tasks to give your hands a rest.

PROPER OFFICE ERGONOMIC SET UP
Office Furniture Positioning

  • Ensure your chair fits correctly. There should be 2 inches between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees. Ideally, the chair should have a lumbar support.
  • Sit with your knees at approximately a 90 to 110 degree angle. Using an angled foot rest to support your feet may help you sit more comfortably.
  • Your elbows and hips should be at 90 degree angles.
  • Position your computer monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level, with adequate lighting and no glare.
  • Keep your wrists in the neutral position, not angled up or down, while you type. Your mouse should be positioned in close proximity to the keyboard to avoid over reaching.

Employee Movement (Stretching)

Stretching is a key element to a healthy life style in the office or at home. Here are some example of stretches that may be done during work or at home.

  • We need to get up and move during the day, at least every couple of hours. It is as simple as standing in place and reaching for the sky or standing and touching your toes.
  • Take frequent short breaks (micro-breaks) every 20-40 minutes for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Stretching is so important for our bodies and mind to relax. We shall see results over time as we become more productive with a well-rested and stretched body. 
Posted in 2019, AUGUST 2019, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Work Practices To Promote Office Safety