Thinking About The Unthinkable

Written by Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist
 
As inconvenient as it might seem, being prepared for an unlikely event could mean the difference between being able to reopen your business and having to close your doors for good. Although the likelihood of something tragic happening to your business is relatively low, the impact that a disaster could have greatly outweighs the complacency of not having a plan in place. Taking the needed time to plan with affected departments and test understanding at all levels is an absolute must in ensuring that getting back to the “normal” is as easy as possible. An Emergency Preparedness Plan should include all potential emergencies and be easy to read and understand. Ensure to have the following in your plan:
Include All Potential Emergencies
The best emergency plan is one that contains all potential emergencies. Yes, even that one you just thought about. Given “today’s” emergencies in the world, it is hard to forecast what tomorrow might bring, whether it is an “active attacker” situation, a broken dam that creates mass flooding in your area, a virus that causes a world-wide pandemic, or a fire started by an employee taking a smoke break. There would be nothing worse than spending resources and valuable time on an emergency plan and including only some of potential situations, only to have a disaster happen that was not included on your plan. This requires you to think outside of the box and to not just copy-and-paste a generic emergency plan that you found online. Almost every company is going to have a different plan based on a few items: where their building(s) is/are located, what their daily operations are, what material is stored on site, how many employees they have, and what history can tell us about companies that are similar. A case in point is that a building placed right next to a railroad track should include a plan in place to what is to happen if the train derails and wipes out half of the building, while another business located in a wooded, low-populated area, should consider including something along the lines of appropriate responses to animal attacks. This is absolutely the time to think about these situations and plan for them so these events will not catch you off-guard.
Do Not “Set and Forget”
An emergency plan is not something that once created, you can laminate, put into a nice binder, and set on your shelf for dust to collect and only to be looked at in case of an emergency. At an absolute minimum, it should be looked at on an annual basis,  reviewed and checked for accuracy and applicability. Given this topic 6 months ago, there would be very little to no mention of a virus, but going forth, almost all new emergency plans written will have some inclusion of an unplanned virus or disease. This only shows the importance of regularly updating (and recording revisions to) a plan. Routinely search for the most accurate emergency response information with your given disasters and update as needed.
Train and Test
What is worse than not having a plan? Having a plan that you spend valuable time and effort on, then telling no one and not providing training on the topics. At the very minimum, each and every employee should go through an overview of your emergency response during the on-boarding process or during new-hire orientation. Also, make it available to all guests, residents, visitors, potential customers, clients and vendors, if asked. Additionally, annual drills should be made to test the knowledge and preparedness for more common emergencies such as tornado, fire, lockdown situations and similar. Develop training matrixes and ensure that all levels of employment know what to do in the event of an emergency. You should feel confident that your employees will know what response is needed in an emergency.

Taking these steps today and the time you invest in being prepared now, are proven to be time well spent in the aftermath of an emergency. If you need help in creating your plan, please feel free to contact us at: daday@compone.net or 734-309-3456. 
Posted in 2020, JULY 2020 | Comments Off on Thinking About The Unthinkable

Advocacy Update

Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Vice President Government Affairs and Industry Relations
State of Emergency Bills Introduced
Three bills were introduced in the Michigan Senate in May which would statutorily restrict rental property evictions during states of emergency. The first bill, Senate Bill 912, is called the “Emergency Rental Relief Act.” This bill stipulates that during a declared state of emergency a landlord shall not attempt to recover possession of property under a lease, and, a court shall not advance a summary proceedings action to recover possession or enter a judgment for possession or issue an eviction order. The legislation further states that landlords shall not charge or seek to collect late fees for nonpayment of rent during a declared emergency. The bill also provides that a tenant may declare a lease terminated at any time during an emergency subject to notice provisions in the lease or in the proposed legislation. Senate Bill 913 would amend the Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act to allow for tenant lease termination as provided in the act created by Senate Bill 912. Senate Bill 914 would amend the Revised Judicature Act to mandate that a court may not enter a judgment for possession or take any action to advance a filing or issue an eviction order as dictated under the act created by Senate Bill 912. All three bills have been referred to the Finance Committee for consideration.

Help AAM Make A Difference In The 2020 Election!

With all 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives up for election this year, AAM needs your help to maintain our strong voice for the multifamily rental property industry. One great way you can assist us is by supporting AAM-PAC. AAM-PAC is the Apartment Association’s political action committee, which utilizes contributions from members and aggregates them into one fund. This fund is used to financially support those elected officials who understand the important role of rental housing in Michigan’s economy. In short, we do the legwork for you to find the candidates who will best represent your business, and then support their campaign.

Remember, AAM-PAC contributions must be made via personal, partnership, LLP, or LLC check or credit cards. Please call me at 248-862-1004 to make your contribution today!
Posted in 2020, JULY 2020 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Advocacy Update

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

Lead Paint Bills Would Impact Rental Housing

Despite the legislature’s minimal session time the last couple months, activity has continued on various bills as legislators work from home. This includes a set of bills introduced in January which address lead-based paint. The bills affecting rental housing break down as follows:

House Bill 5361 – Requires inspection before a sale of residential real property constructed before 1978. The inspection must be made by an inspector certified under the Public Health Code, and the inspection report must be provided to the buyer prior to a purchase agreement.
House Bill 5362 – Amends the Housing Law of Michigan to allow for rental housing inspection fees to include the cost of lead paint inspections. This bill also amends the law to allow rents paid into escrow when a certificate of compliance is suspended to be used to defray lead paint abatement.
House Bill 5364 – Amends the Public Health Code to lower the threshold of lead found in the blood of a minor in the section of the law that subjects landlords to penalties when they have knowledge of the lead paint in the rental and did not make a good faith effort to control it. This bill also adds to the landlord’s burden of proof when defending against a claim.
House Bill 5366 – Creates a new tax on architectural paint of $.25 per gallon. Under the bill the proceeds from the tax would go toward grants for lead abatement and reduction in residential rental dwellings.
House Bill 5367 – Allows a taxpayer to claim a credit against their Michigan Income Tax for the lead certification fees they incur as a result of a lead paint assessment/abatement activity.

AAM COVID-19 Resource Page

A reminder that AAM has established a COVID-19 resource page at www.apartments.org. This resource page includes CDC guidance and business information to help rental property owners.
Posted in 2020, JUNE 2020 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Afraid of Heights? Safety When Working From Elevation

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

Last year, Michigan experienced 11 fatalities that resulted from falling. Eight of these were from elevation. Working from heights is dangerous at all levels, but simple and effective solutions can mitigate risk and reduce injuries if implemented correctly. The heights of the last year’s worker’s falls range from 6 feet up to 30 feet, and involved everything from working off of ladders, to working on unfinished balconies. While the greater the falling distance increases the likelihood of severe injury, it does not mean that short falls (10 feet or less) should be ignored. In order to stay within compliance, you must protect workers while working at heights of 4 feet or great for General Industry, and heights of 6 feet or greater for Construction. Here are the types of fall protection and prevention that you must consider while working at elevated surfaces.


Guardrails
Guardrails can both be temporary or permanent construction as long as they meet the requirements listed in OSHA Fall Protection Systems Criteria and Practices 1926.502(b), which include a 42” top rail (+/- 3”) with an equal spaced mid-rail, and the ability to support 200 pounds in a downward direction. Guardrails are ideal for maximizing the working space, offer significant prevention of falls, and give workers confidence when working above tanks and other hazardous material (compared to fall protection systems).

Safety Net Systems
Safety nets are, by design, to be a last line of protection. The idea of a safety net is to “catch” any item or person who falls over an edge, and prevents them from landing/hitting a lower level. They shall be installed as close as possible and extend at least 8 feet to 13 feet past the outer working surface, depending on the distance away from the working surface. Safety nets must be tested if feasible upon each installation to ensure integrity and strength. Not all buildings will support or allow such a structure built, as to why you do not frequently see these.

Personal Fall Protection Systems
Personal fall protection, such as body harnesses, horizontal lifelines, lanyards, self-retracting lifelines, shock absorbing lanyards, and adequate anchor systems are amongst the most common types of preventing serious injury from falls. While they do not always prevent falls, the idea is to either greatly limit the length of a fall, or absorb a fall almost completely to allow the individual to get assistance back to safety. Injury can still occur when using fall protection, especially if used incorrectly. Full body harnesses (not body belts) must fit each individual properly and all fall protection equipment must undergo competent inspections prior to use.

Ladder Safety Systems
A ladder safety system is an affixed construction to a ladder that allows the employee who is climbing, to do so with both hands without having to continuously hold, push or pull on any part of the system while climbing. They are required on ladder systems over 24 feet. Their main purpose is to provide a vertical life line that “catches” the fall if someone missteps or falls from a ladder while ascending or descending.

Warning Line Systems
Warning line systems seem to be growing in popularity with ease of installation and ensuring compliance. These are great measures that show a 6 foot buffer zone around the side of roof or other leading edge that is unguarded. These warning systems are great for those who need to do routine or lengthy work on such an area. As long as the warning line can withstand 16 pounds of force applied horizontally without tipping over, and the rope, wire, or chain that it is constructed out of can support 500 pounds after being to stanchions on either end, without breaking or taking up slack.

Regardless of what system you end up going with, there should always be a competent person who provides training on the proper usage and maintenance of equipment and indicating the hazards and concerns of all elevated work. This training should be held prior to the employee starting the task. Not all elevated work is dangerous when performed within compliance and statistics show that workers get jobs done quicker and better when they are confident in their own safety.

For more information, visit OSHA.gov, your local safety agency, or email me at daday@CompOne.net.
Posted in 2020, JUNE 2020 | Comments Off on Afraid of Heights? Safety When Working From Elevation

Ladder Safety 101

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

NOTE: This information is being provided for your use/reference after the current Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order has been rescinded, lifted or changed to allow outdoor building maintenance.

It is the season to get out there and start doing spring cleaning, outdoor building maintenance and stretching out winter’s cramps! While we may want to get some of these ‘to-do’ items off our list and start enjoying the nice weather, it is important that ensuring all equipment is inspected, maintained and tested before use, especially ladders! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ladders have accounted for over 20,000 injures in the year 2015, with more than 150 deaths. OSHA has ladders listed on the OSHA “Top 10” most cited violations almost every year. Below is what you need to be doing in order to stay safe while using a ladder.

Getting the Correct Ladder
When going to purchase a ladder, ensure that you get a ladder that fits the task. If the ladder is going to be used around roofs and areas that may have live wires around, look for “Non-conductive side rails.” Also, ensure that the ladder’s type and duty rating is suited to the work that it will be used for. Understand that some ladders are only rated for 200 pounds and the weight of an individual and everything that they may have on (i.e. equipped tool belt) while going up a ladder should be factored in. Knowing that you have the correct ladder is the first step in ensuring a safe climb!

Training
Employers must provide some means of training for employees who are required to use ladders. During this training, the employee must be able to learn about ladder-related hazards and injuries and also learn how to inspect and use a ladder properly. This training should occur before an employee is even allowed to use a ladder and annually thereafter.

Inspection

Inspect a ladder prior to each day of use. This inspection should be made by a competent person who has been trained in what to look for. Things to be included in an inspection checklist are no structural damage, labels and stickers are clearly visible, there are no cracks or significant dents anywhere, all cleats/steps are fixed securely, ladders are free of liquids or dusts that would cause a slip hazard, and all hinges, ropes, and bolts/screws/rivets are securely fastened. Know that a well-maintained ladder can last a long time and save you money!

Use

Ensure that you retrieve a ladder properly and are lifting it ergonomically and safely. While ladders may not weigh a lot, their size and proportions make them feel a lot heavier than they really are. Encourage workers to use team lifting practices if a ladder is too large or heavy for one individual. When placing a ladder, ensure it’s at the proper angle. When a ladder is placed against something, the bottom of the ladder should be one-quarter of the ladder’s working length away from the wall. This is known as the “ladder 4 to 1 rule.” For access to an elevated work surface, such as a roof, extend the top of the ladder 36 inches above the resting surface. Always maintain at least three contact points when climbing up or down a ladder. This includes either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand. A point of contact can only be established through a hand or foot and does not include wrapping your arm around a step or leaning against the ladder. It is best practice to put tools or other materials inside a bucket and pull them up safely with rope or other means, rather than carrying them by hand up the ladder. Always face the ladder when going up or down and take extra caution when you get on or off the ladder.
 

Ladders are replaceable, but people are not! If you or your employees are unsure about the safety of a ladder, it is best to dispose of or recycle it, if metal. Wooden ladders may have hidden damage. Using them is not encouraged. They should not be painted. Keeping up-to-date with OSHA and other local regulations ensures that you stay on top of the most current rules and policies.For more information, visit OSHA.gov, your local safety agency, or email me at daday@CompOne.net.

Posted in 2020, May 2020 | Comments Off on Ladder Safety 101