Preventing Winter Weather-Related Injuries

WRITTEN BY GARY SMITH, APARTMENT BUILDING MANAGEMENT WORKERS COMPENSATION SELF INSURED FUND

Before the cold winter months, it’s wise to take extra precautions to prevent worker injuries and illnesses resulting from ice, snow and cold temperature conditions.

According to the CDC, winter weather kills more than twice as many Americans than summer heat. Consider these winter weather-related injury statistics:

  • Over 116,000 people in the U.S. are injured and more than 1,300 are killed on snowy, slushy or icy roads every winter.
  • 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes happen on snowy, slushy or icy roads annually.
  • 1 million Americans are injured due to slip and fall injuries annually, and the risk increases dramatically during winter months.
  • Slips and falls, while not the main cause of fatal workplace injuries, represent the primary cause of lost days from work.
  • Approximately 1,301 Americans die from hypothermia annually.

Even though employers cannot control winter weather conditions, they can take specific actions to keep their workers safe when working in these conditions. Consider the following OSHA-recommended practices for your injury prevention program:

Driving in Winter Weather

  • Provide training so workers recognize the hazards of driving in winter weather (e.g., on snow and ice-covered roads).
  • Set and enforce policies for safe, defensive driving.
  • Implement an effective maintenance program for all vehicles and mechanized equipment that workers are required to operate, which should include brakes, cooling system, electrical system, engine, exhaust system, oil, tires, and visibility systems (i.e., exterior lights, defrosters, and wipers).
  • Equip vehicles with an adequate emergency kit (www.ready.gov/car) and additional warm clothing such as hats, gloves/mittens, etc.
  • If stranded in a vehicle, stay in the vehicle, turn on its four-way hazard lights, and call for emergency assistance. Increasingly, persons are fatality injured when struck by passing vehicles while standing or working in road right of ways. In winter weather, motorists are even more likely to lose control of their vehicles due to snow and/or ice-covered roads.

Clearing Snow from Roofs and Working at Heights

  • Evaluate snow removal tasks for hazards and plan how to do the work safely. A surface that is weighed down with snow must be inspected by a competent person to determine if its structurally safe to access. Snow covered roof tops can hide hazards such as skylights that workers can fall through. Electrical hazards may also exist from overhead power lines.
  • Employers should determine the right type of equipment (e.g., ladders, aerial lifts, etc.) and personal protective equipment (e.g., personal fall arrest systems, non-slip safety boots, etc.) for each job and that workers are trained to properly use them.

Walking on Snow and Ice

  • To prevent slips, trips, and falls, employers should clear walking surfaces of snow and ice, and spread deicer, as quickly as possible after a winter storm.
  • Train workers to take short steps and walk at a slower pace so they can react quickly to a change in traction, when walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway.
  • Require use of proper footwear when walking on snow or ice is unavoidable. A pair of insulated and water-resistant boots with good rubber treads is a must for walking during or after a winter storm. Additionally, traction cleats, designed to fit over footwear, are available in different styles to ensure workers stay sure-footed.

For additional winter weather safety practices, prevention and treatment of frostbite and hypothermia, and more, see OSHA’s Winter Weather resource page.

Should you require assistance with incorporating winter weather safety into your injury prevention program, please contact Gary L. Smith, CRM, CSRM, MLIR, Director of Risk Control at (517) 338-3367 or gary.smith@yorkrsg.com.

Resources:

OSHA Winter Weather – Plan. Equip. Train. at www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/additional.html

CDC Winter Weather at www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.html.

DHS Car Safety at www.ready.gov/car.

 

Posted in 2018, OCTOBER, OCTOBER 2018 | Comments Off on Preventing Winter Weather-Related Injuries

Advocacy Update

Forrest Wall

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

Open And Obvious Legislation Moves in Senate

A Michigan Senate Committee recently approved legislation specifying the liability of property owners for injuries to invitees (i.e. lessees) and licensees (i.e. guests). Senate Bill 1017, introduced by Sen. Peter MacGregor, proposes what is called the “Premises Liability Act.” The proposed legislation would change the “open and obvious” doctrine in Michigan. Currently, there is no specific Michigan statute that addresses this issue. Rather, the “open and obvious” standard in Michigan came from judicial rule. The legislation provides definitions for possessors of property, invitees, licensees, and the term “open and obvious.” Under the bill, a possessor would have a duty to use ordinary care to protect an invitee from risks of harm from a condition on the premises if the risk of harm was unreasonable, and the possessor knew or should have known of the condition, and should have realized that the condition involved an unreasonable risk of harm. With respect to invitees, the bill states a possessor would be liable only for physical harm by a condition the possessor knew or should have known of, and should have realized it involved an unreasonable risk of harm, and should have expected the licensee would not have discovered the danger, and if the possessor failed to warn the licensee of the danger. Finally, a possessor would owe no duty to warn or protect an invitee or licensee of risks from open and obvious conditions unless there are special features that make the condition unavoidable or create an unreasonably high risk of severe harm. SB 1017 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Help AAM-PAC Make A Difference In This Election!

With the Governor’s office, all 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives, all 38 seats in the Michigan Senate, and other key leadership posts up for election this year, it is imperative that business owners are involved in the political process.

One great way to have your voice heard is to support 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 2018, OCTOBER, OCTOBER 2018 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

New Walking-Working Surfaces Rule – Part II

WRITTEN BY GARY SMITH, APARTMENT BUILDING MANAGEMENT WORKERS COMPENSATION SELF INSURED FUND

NOTE: In May we ran Part I, focusing on compliance deadlines. Part II outlines the content of the rule and how it is likely to apply to members.

The State of Michigan adopted the new federal OSHA standard pertaining to walking-working surfaces earlier this year. MIOSHA’s Part 2. Walking-Working Surfaces applies to all general industry workplaces in the State.

Let’s consider why this change occurred and some of the key requirements that may likely apply to your workplace.

Why the New Rules?
Slips, trips and falls are a leading cause of fatality and injury in general industry, which applies across numerous industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that slips, trips and falls account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Causing more fatalities than any other cause, second only to motor vehicle accidents. OSHA estimates that the new rules may prevent 29 fatalities and as many as 5,842 injuries annually, nationwide. The potential benefit is estimated to be up to $309.5 million dollars per year.

How Does it Apply?
The new standard, MIOSHA General Industry Part 2, presents both general and specific type requirements. The requirements are too numerous to mention them all here and they deserve your thorough review. Here are some of the more important:

Housekeeping – Employers must ensure that all places of employment, passageways, storerooms, service rooms, and walking-working surfaces are kept in a clean, orderly, and sanitary condition. Floors should be kept in a dry condition to the extent feasible or drainage must be maintained. Surfaces should also be free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow and ice.

Inspection, Maintenance, and RepairWalking-working surfaces must be inspected regularly and as necessary and maintained in a safe condition. Hazardous conditions are to be corrected / repaired before being used again. If the correction or repair will be delayed, then the hazard must be guarded until conditions are addressed.

LaddersPrior to each initial use in each work shift, ladders must be inspected for any damage or defects. Any ladder found to be damaged or defected must be immediately tagged as Dangerous – Do Not Use and removed from service until repaired or replaced.

Stairways – Stairs shall have uniform riser heights and tread depths between landings. They shall support at least five times the normal anticipated live load, but never less than the concentrated 1,000 pounds applied at any point.

Fall and Falling Object Protection – Employees exposed to unprotected sides of walking-working surfaces 4 feet or greater are protected by a guardrail system, safety net system, personal fall arrest system (PFAS), travel restraint or positioning system. Each hole (including skylights) that is 4 feet or more above a lower level shall be protected by covers, guardrail systems, travel restraint systems, and personal fall arrest systems. To protect employees from falling objects, toeboards, screens, or guardrail systems shall be used.

Low-Slope Roofs

  • • Roofs less than or equal to a ratio of 4 in 12 (vertical to horizontal) have a few allowances depending upon the proximity of the work to the edge.
  • • Less than 6 feet from the edge – the employer must ensure the employee is protected from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraint system, or PFAS.
  • • Between 6 feet and 15 feet from the edge – the employer must ensure each employee is protected from falling by using a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraint system, or personal fall arrest system. The employer may use a designated area when performing work that is both infrequent and temporary. Both infrequent and temporary directly apply to employees performing up to monthly roof top inspections, air filter changes and HVAC equipment cleaning.
  • • At or beyond 15 feet from the edge – the employer, if the work is both infrequent and temporary, is not required to provide any fall protection. But, they must implement and enforce a work rule prohibiting employees from going within 15 feet of the roof edge without using fall protection.

Employee Training – Employers must provide training on the nature of falls and how to recognize them; procedures to protect from falls; procedures for installing, inspecting, operating, maintaining, and disassembling fall protection systems; and the correct inspection/use/storage of personal fall arrest systems. Retraining is required to maintain skills and if there are changes in the workplace.

Should you require assistance with interpreting and applying the new walking-working surfaces standard in your workplace, please contact Gary L. Smith, CRM, CSRM, MLIR, Director of Risk Control at (517) 338-3367 or gary.smith@yorkrsg.com.

Resources:

  1. MIOSHA General Industry Part 2. Walking-Working Surfaces: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/CIS_WSH_part2_35455_7.pdf
  2. MIOSHA Comparison to Previous Standard: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/lara/lara_miosha_GI_2_Comparison_Old_and_New_Rules_612865_7.pdf
  3. OSHA Resources for Walking-Working Surfaces: https://www.osha.gov/walking-working-surfaces/index.html
  4. American Ladder Institute’s FREE Ladder Safety Training: https://laddersafetytraining.org/

 

Posted in 2018, September 2018, Uncategorized | Comments Off on New Walking-Working Surfaces Rule – Part II

Advocacy Update

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

Are You Taking Advantage of Tax Reform?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – enacted in December 2017 – contained a number of provisions important to the multifamily rental property industry nationwide. Although the law became effective January 1, 2018, clarification has been needed (and continues to be needed) via administrative guidance or legislative action on a number of issues. AAM is offering members a special program to help you navigate this massive tax reform legislation so you understand the advantages available to you now. This program is FREE for AAM Members and is scheduled for Friday, September 21 at 10:00 am (see the “News & Events” section of this magazine for more detail or go to www.apartments.org to register). Three experts from Plante Moran, led by Jennifer Chambers, CPA, Partner, will cover the following topics:

  • How to maximize your 20% Deduction in 2018 for pass-through entities: Qualified Business Income Deduction
  • Understand the rules for business interest expense limitation and strategies to manage
  • 100 percent Immediate Expensing for capitalized costs – how can cost segregation studies help?
  • How Net Operating Loss treatment and excess business loss limitations will impact you going forward
  • Defer capital gains through investing in Opportunity Zones
  • How multifamily projects are impacted by Section 1031: Like Kind Exchanges

Help AAM-PAC Make A Difference In This Election!

With the Governor’s office, all 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives, all 38 seats in the Michigan Senate, and other key leadership posts up for election this year, it is imperative that business owners are involved in the political process.

One great way to have your voice heard is to support 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 2018, September 2018 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Prevent Fatal Fires With Periodic Inspection

WRITTEN BY GARY SMITH, APARTMENT BUILDING MANAGEMENT WORKERS COMPENSATION SELF INSURED FUND

On average, explosions and fires account for 3% of workplace injuries and have the highest casualty rate of all probable workplace accidents as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Additionally, the National Fire Protection Association provides the following statistics:

In 2016, there were 1,342,000 fires reported in the United States. These fires caused 3,390 civilian deaths, 14,650 civilian injuries, and $10.6 billion in property damage.

The 2016, U.S. fire loss clock a fire department responded to a fire every 24 seconds.
. One structure fire was reported every 66 seconds.
. One home structure fire was reported every 90 seconds.
. One civilian fire injury was reported every 34 minutes.
. One civilian fire death occurred every 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Fires are still fatal; 81 percent of all fire deaths occur in home fires.

An effective approach at preventing these fires is by performing periodic inspections of portable fire extinguishers, exit signage and access on our properties. The following checklists are provided for this purpose:

Additionally, ensure that your local fire department is familiar with your facility, its location and specific hazards, and inspect and maintain all fire monitoring and suppression systems.

Should you require assistance with portable fire extinguisher training and/or training staff to conduct periodic inspections of extinguishers, exit signage and access, please contact Gary L. Smith, CRM, CSRM, MLIR, Director of Risk Control at (517) 338-3367 or gary.smith@yorkrsg.com.

Resources:

MIOSHA General Industry Part 6. Fire Exits (amended 4/22/15): https://www.michigan.gov/documents/CIS_WSH_part6_38111_7.pdf

MIOSHA General Industry Part 8. Portable Fire Extinguishers (amended 1/10/13): https://www.michigan.gov/documents/CIS_WSH_part8_51042_7.pdf

NFPA Research: http://www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/fire-statistics-and-reports/fire-statistics/fires-in-the-us/overall-fire-problem/fire-loss-in-the-united-states

Posted in 2018, AUGUST 2018, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Prevent Fatal Fires With Periodic Inspection