Working On Or Near Roadways

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

Regardless of your exact scope of work, at some point in nearly everyone’s job they may find themselves working near a road. Roadways pose serious hazards, not only for motorists, but for pedestrians, cyclists, and workers. Whether collecting the mail, picking up trash, cutting the grass, shoveling sidewalks, or even pouring concrete, all of these could mean standing near or on the road. It is important to know where the hazards occur, how to recognize hazardous work situations, and how to keep yourself safe while working near a roadway.

According to the CDC, for every 5 motorist that are killed in crashes, 1 pedestrian’s life is also taken. While speed is always a large factor, it is not the best gauge used to measure your risk; most vehicle/pedestrian fatal accidents occur in urban areas, away from intersections, and at night. If you find yourself being in this area or category, ensure you take extra precaution when working. Even if you are not in this category, you still may not be completely safe while working near the roadway. Accidents can occur almost anywhere, especially with motorists distracted now more than ever with cell phones, infotainment controls, and everything else.

Plan your work around traffic, if at all possible. If you just have a simple task that involves walking or working near the road for a short period of time, plan on doing these tasks between 10 AM and 11 AM or in the afternoon between 2 PM and 3 PM. Absolutely avoid, if at all possible, work during rush hours. The typical rush hour starts around 7 AM to 10 AM and occurs in the afternoon again from 4 PM to 7 PM. While all these times may change depending on your location, it is best to observe and record when the traffic is the slowest in your areas. Sometimes work schedules should be changed up to avoid the busiest traffic times. You see this with highway construction. Highways tend to have more work at night, not only due to less heat, but also because there is significantly less traffic. Just be aware of your local laws as there may be ordnances that do not allow certain work to be performed before certain times.

If you find yourself working heavily near roadways, you may find yourself in the category of having to comply with OSHA’s (or MIOSHA’s) PPE regulations on high visibility apparel and general duty clause. If you do, then all employees performing work on or exposed to vehicles or construction equipment must have safety vest worn (referencing MIOSHA’s PPE Standard). Safety vest or shirts must meet ANSI 107 Class 2 (sometimes written as ANSI Class II) or Class 3 (III). The difference of vest requirements would be the speed of traffic or the amount of traffic or hazards present. Even if you do not meet the full requirement to mandate high visibility apparel, as a general rule of thumb it is always a good idea to wear bright colors or even high visibility whenever working near vehicles in areas such as parking lots, driveways, areas where industrial vehicles are present, and especially near traffic and roadways.

General safety should be taught for all, as safety is not as common sense as most people think. Some general safety tips for working near traffic are: never turn your back to traffic, ever; never walk between 2 parked vehicles immediately next to a roadway, if one is hit then it will pin you between the vehicles; never use earbuds or look at your phone while walking or working near a roadway; do not assume a car can see you, always wait until the vehicle comes to a complete stop before entering a roadway; and lastly, the best way to make all pedestrians safer is to make all of us drivers safer behind the wheel.

Posted in 2022, OCTOBER 2022 | Comments Off on Working On Or Near Roadways

Advocacy Update

Forrest Wall March 2021Written by HBA and AAM CEO, Forrest M. Wall, CAE

Elevator Legislation Introduced
Legislation which would impact apartment properties with elevators has been introduced in the Michigan Senate. The proposed law would require apartment owners to provide “reasonable accommodations” to residents in situations where less than 50 percent of functional elevators in the property are working and the nonfunction of elevators may result in life threatening consequences to residents. Reasonable accommodations are defined in the legislation as “a modification or an adjustment made that is based on a proven need.” It goes on to specify this must include notifying residents of applicable resources and phone numbers for those resources (including 211), and the following:

  • Engaging volunteer groups or individuals to assist a resident with mobility issues with purchasing and delivering groceries, running errands, or doing laundry.
  • Increasing the amount of time management and maintenance staff stays on-site during work hours
  • Paying for a hotel room for a resident with ongoing medical needs and who requires appointments outside the home on an ongoing basis
  • Temporarily relocating residents affected by a nonfunctional elevator to vacant ground floor units or to another multifamily dwelling managed by the owner or to a hotel

The legislation also requires property owners, within 6 months of the effective date of the act, to prepare a written plan containing the accommodations the owner will provide in the event that less than 50% of the functional elevators are working. That plan must be presented on a standard form that is to be created by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The property owner must submit the plan to MSHDA for approval, and post the plan in a common area and provide a copy to each resident. If MSHDA denies the plan they can request revisions, or, if they determine the plan to be discriminatory then it is referred to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission

Penalty provisions for failure to comply with the written plan include:

  • Not more than $500 civil fine for property with 4 or fewer floors
  • Not more than $1000 civil fine for property with 5 or more floors
  • The civil fine must be increased by 10% every 30 days until compliance

Help AAM Make A Difference In Election 2022!
As we race towards election day on November 8th, the importance of this particular election year cannot be understated. First, all key leadership posts (Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State) and legislative offices are up for grabs. Second, redistricting has altered the landscape of our state legislative districts, with control of the Michigan House and Senate up for grabs. Given this, your Apartment Association’s role in researching and financially supporting candidates for state office is vitally important to the health of the multifamily rental property industry. One great way you can assist us in this effort 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 candidates 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. Please call Riva Gulli at 248-862-1002 to make your contribution today! AAM-PAC contributions must be made via personal, partnership, LLP, or LLC.

Posted in 2022, OCTOBER 2022 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Advocacy Update

Forrest Wall March 2021Written by HBA and AAM CEO, Forrest M. Wall, CAE

Victory On Carried Interest
Over the last decade, debate has raged in the United States Congress about the treatment of carried interest in the tax code. Currently taxed as a capital gain, critics have argued that it is a tax loophole, and should be taxed at the much higher ordinary income rate. The rationale used by advocates for change has been that the current treatment of carried interest unfairly benefits Wall Street hedge fund managers and private equity. As we know however, a change in this tax would more directly impact real estate developers, with the effect of dampening investment in residential and commercial projects. The latest effort to change the rate on carried interest was introduced in the Inflation Reduction Act. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and other real estate groups opposed this provision in the legislation. It was ultimately struck from the act, which was passed by Congress in August.

Michigan Supreme Court Rules In Sexual Orientation Case
The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) provides protections based on sexual orientation. The court, in a 5-2 opinion in Rouch World LLC et al. v. Michigan Department of Civil Rights et al., held that the word “sex” as a protected class under ELCRA applies to sexual orientation and not just gender. The ruling makes discrimination based on LGBTQ status illegal in places of public accommodation, employment, housing and education in Michigan.

Lumber Tariffs Cut More Than Expected
In a partial victory for the housing industry, the U.S. Department of Commerce has moved to cut the tariffs on Canadian lumber by more than what was expected. The department issued its final administrative review to reduce tariffs from 17.99% to 8.59%. The final amount was lower than the initial review, which cut the tariffs to 11.64%. NAHB continues to advocate for a complete elimination of the tariffs via a long-term trade agreement with Canada.

Posted in 2022, SEPTEMBER 2022 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Increase In Industrial Vehicle Fatalities

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

Industrial vehicles can range from electric golf carts to LP forklifts to diesel-powered excavators, and their usage can range from once a day to once a year. Regardless of the size, purpose, or how often they are used, there are inherent dangers from the operation of these within workplaces. Recently, Michigan has seen an increase in industrial vehicle-related fatalities, which highlights the need for improved industrial vehicle safety programs, on the job training, and ensuring safe operation for all types of industrial vehicles. If your operation includes the usage of industrial vehicles – regardless of whether it is for maintenance staff driving a flatbed utility cart to different parts of your site or if it is as major as utilizing an all-terrain forklift to deliver shingles to the roof of a structure – you must ensure employees are protected at all times.

As companies grow, communication between employers and employees tends to diminish, which is one, amongst many, reasons why written procedures are so important. When an employee’s scope of work begins to encompass the use of an industrial vehicle, it is imperative that your company’s expectations and policies are documented, trained and accessible to all employees. While some employees may have experience in operating an industrial vehicle, there may be a difference between the employer’s and employee’s understanding of a safe means of operation. Having something that is brief but comprehensive on your company’s procedures, general safety of the applicable equipment and expectations of safe use are the first steps in reducing or eliminating the chance of an injury or property damage.

There’s nearly nothing worse than learning about an accident that could have easily been avoided only if the affected employee was unaware of a “common sense” safety practice. Common sense is not sufficient when it comes to safety.Whether you are looking at OSHA general industry or construction safety standards, you will see the requirement to train employees in a multi-step process.

Step One consists of formal instruction. This can be either through a lecture, discussion, written material or some other means of classroom teaching. Step Two consists of practical training, through some means of demonstration of the equipment by the trainer. Step Three consists of the employee practicing and showing their capabilities as the trainer evaluates their skills. Follow up training should occur no more than three years after initial training or whenever an unsafe event occurs. Ensure all is documented and kept on file.

Accountability and responsibility are imperative for all those involved in the operation of industrial vehicles. Having some means of scheduled preventative maintenance for equipment, ensuring daily inspections are being performed and documented, observing safe driving behavior and providing adequate refresher training are recommended. If unsafe actions are occurring, pulling an employee’s industrial vehicle license may be required, until they are able to follow your company’s rules and drive in a safe manner. While there is a time and place for everything, a company’s zero tolerance policy for unsafe behavior (implying termination for unsafe behavior) is generally not warranted for unsafe industrial vehicle usage. Instead, the usage of progressive discipline and proper means of retraining is the preferred way to go. Only egregiously unsafe acts should warrant the need for a zero tolerance policy.

Whether your company has ever had an accident or not, there is always room for improvement. No one comes to work and plans on an injury. Taking the time today to make your industrial truck program safer, could mean one less injury tomorrow.

Posted in 2022, SEPTEMBER 2022 | Comments Off on Increase In Industrial Vehicle Fatalities

Ergonomics for Laborers and Skilled Trades

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

Whether it is fitting a door, installing a washer, tightening a leaky faucet, running electrical or just driving a nail, ergonomics needs to be applied to each and every physical task that is performed. When most people think of ergonomics they may think of a comfy chair or a desk set at a proper height for typing, but it is so much more than that.

Ergonomics has become a trending word in everything from the news reports to business names to descriptions of car accessories. The truth behind ergonomics is that the best time to incorporate them is when the job is being created. The second best time is right now. Ergonomics is quite simply the most efficient way to go about doing something, period. Whenever an injury occurs, it is because there were additional unneeded forces created on the body. Streamlining work, while using the least amount of strength to do the job is not only going to improve the job itself, but minimize injuries to the body, as well, and boosts productivity. To go about avoiding ergonomics altogether is costing you time, productivity and injury. The best time to implement ergonomics is when a job, task or operation is still in the development phase. Everything from purchasing the proper hand tools to ensuring everyone has supportive shoes to having equipment available, if a situation warrants the need for it.

Starting off with hand tool handles – the next time purchasing anything that is meant to be held when used, there is a design factor that must not be ignored. Everything from the material it is made up of, to how it conforms to the hand should be considered. If it feels cheap, it will feel even cheaper when it is heavily used. Avoid hand tools with pre-formed finger slots. Ensure the handle is large enough to grasp, but not so large that the hand can’t fully close around it. Look for non-slip grips that are not too rough. Take a moment right now to look at your palm, then slowly close your hand into a fist. Halfway through closing, take a look at the opening between your fingers, palm and thumb. That shape is the shape you want to look for when choosing a tool’s handle. It is usually not perfectly round, but oval in shape.

Shoes with good soles are probably the most important aspect of a job that involves being on your feet most of the day. If you ever met someone who is cranky, it is most likely that they have uncomfortable shoes. Do not pick shoes for their design, but for protection and comfort. A comfortable shoe is one that has a supporting arch, a heel pad that absorbs the shock of each step, for millions of steps (1 million steps equals about 500 miles. The average person walks about 1,000 miles every year.) The shoes should allow good airflow. If your feet hurt by the end of the day, replace your shoes. If you can’t replace them, get shoe inserts. You can get your feet scanned at almost any RX store that sells shoe inserts. (You will thank me later!)

Injury occurs when there is a lack of adequate personnel, equipment or available resources. This is where some creativity, design and planning come into play. Everything from implementing administrative controls that ensure team lifting for anything over “X” number of pounds, to utilizing inexpensive tools like appliance dollies, drywall lifts (which can be used for more than just drywall) or lifting straps. All of these, when used safely, minimize injuries. While initially there may be a learning curve to these items, they will save time by means of not having loss time accidents or life-long injuries.

Additionally, train workers and staff on means of ergonomic improvements and proper lifting. For any assistance with ergonomic training or improvements for specific tasks, reach me at Daday@compone.net 

Posted in 2022, JULY | Comments Off on Ergonomics for Laborers and Skilled Trades