Winter PPE Isn’t Apples To Apples

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

When I think of gearing up for cold weather, my first thought is of Randy, the younger brother of Ralphie, in the movie A Christmas Story. All layered up from his mother, he is sent out to walk to school in the morning wake of a giant winter storm. Poor Randy had too many layers that inhibited his movement and didn’t allow him to get back up after falling over. The idea that more layers, or even thicker layers, mean warmer clothes, is no longer true. Unless you carry around a portable battery system and a heating blanket or jacket, there is no such thing as “warm clothing,” there are only clothes that insulate well, not as well or not at all.

In fact, most of a general understanding of what is effective winter PPE, usually isn’t correct at all! It is important when picking out PPE for winter, or really any season, that we understand insulation, water resistance, breathability and materials.

What insulation is better for outdoor winter work – down or synthetic down? While down may be more durable, it loses its insulation properties very quickly when wet. Synthetic down clothing is usually water-resistant or may even be waterproof! So, if there is any chance that your gear may get wet, whether from rain, melted snow or even sweat, you should opt for synthetic down. Regardless of what PPE you have, a good understanding of how to keep warm is a must. A good clothing material for winter will keep cold out and warmth in. The ability of a material to trap air in, and hold it there, will make more of a difference than a thick dense fabric. The weight of a material does not directly correlate with how well it insulates. To find the best insulator fabrics, look for wool, synthetic down, polyester fleece or fiberfill. Additionally, reflective (shiny) jacket/pant liners will do a good job of trapping heat even before it needs to be insulated!

The biggest concern for winter work safety actually isn’t keeping warm, it’s the ability to keep dry. No matter how insulated something is, it won’t do any good if your clothing, especially on your feet, gets wet. Whether from the weather or from sweat, wicking away moisture and keeping it away is the most critical aspect to regulating a comfortable temperature. With proper winter attire, it could be very easy to generate enough warmth to start sweating the moment physical activity starts. Taking off a layer before beginning this type of work is best, to warm up to the clothing, rather than overheating, sweating, then exposing wet clothing to the freezing elements. After wet clothing is exposed to the elements, and there is change in the physical activity level, the moisture will pull heat away from your body a lot faster due to conduction and evaporation. For clothing that will come in contact with the skin, select clothing described as moisture wicking, such as polyester, wool or nylon blends.

With the most modern technology out there, grouped with the proven materials, winter PPE is not only becoming more desirable, it is becoming easier to work with and even safer. With new jacket, pant, boot, glove and base layer designs, we are able to effectively dress for the weather, regardless of what it might be at any given time. When picking out adequate PPE for highly physical jobs, look for waterproof jackets with inner jackets, armpit areas that can zip open that allow ventilation and breathability when starting to warm up, elastic cuffs or waistbands that can trap in warm, good fitting and high visibility. When working outside, the effectiveness of being seen is critical, as we may find ourselves at any given time near traffic and visibility is usually limited.

Don’t find yourself being a Randy with too many layers. Ensure your Winter PPE is effective, ergonomic and allows you to work safely and warmly!

Posted in 2023, FEBRUARY 2023 | Comments Off on Winter PPE Isn’t Apples To Apples

OSHA Log And Forms

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

Employers must become familiar with record requirements, reporting, and knowing when they are in compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Being out-of-compliance adds risk, putting your company into a situation where it may be forced to close. Law enforcement, federal and state officials and other regulatory enforcement rarely take lightly the negligence of companies that “just didn’t know better.” That is why staying on top of applicable laws and regulations, especially when it comes to safety, is critical. One set of laws that all employers should be aware of is OSHA and MIOSHA’s recordkeeping and reporting laws.

Amongst these laws there are requirements for reporting to OSHA/MIOSHA all severe injuries (within 24 hours), all work-related deaths (within 8 hours of the death), and recording your company’s illnesses and injuries within that calendar year. Recording of your company’s injuries and illnesses can be completed on the OSHA 300 log, with a summary of the injury recorded on the 300A log, and your incident reports on the 301 form. Any of these forms can be replaced with an equivalent form (such as a company-specific injury report, in place of a 301 form) as long as they are understandable and use the same instructions as the form they replace. These OSHA logs and forms are intended to demonstrate compliance with applicable OSHA/MIOSHA laws, act as means of information for researching and developing new standards and for aiding in determining cause and prevention of injuries and illnesses. Although keeping these forms up-to-date takes time and effort, having these requirements holds all employers accountable.

Although all employers need to ensure a safe working environment that is free of recognized hazards and report serious injuries and fatalities, only employers with 10 employees or more (at any one given time within the year) are required to actively update and maintain these OSHA/MIOSHA forms. Those who are exempt from required updating of these forms and logs are: employers with 9 or less employees, employers who fall into a specific industry group that is listed in “Appendix A” of MIOSHA Part 11, or those who have a written note from OSHA/MIOSHA excluding their exact company.

The OSHA 300A form, which is the single page that shows the summary of work-related injuries and illnesses, needs to be posted in a conspicuous place or places where notices to all employees are usually posted. The 300A should be posted in these locations for the previous year, no later than February 1st of the following year, up until April 30th (3 months). Failure to do any of these for the non-exempt employers may result in a citation from OSHA/MIOSHA. Additionally, the 300A needs to be submitted annually – electronically to OSHA – by employers who have 250 or more employees or employers with 20 or more employees and within a specific classified industry listed in MIOSHA Part 11, “Appendix B.” Some of the industries listed that must report are construction, manufacturing, lessors of real estate, servicers to buildings and dwellings and many more.
I am often asked what needs to be recorded on the OSHA 300 log. Death, in-patient hospitalization and loss time need to be recorded as well as injuries that result in means of job transfer or restrictions due to an injury, illness, or work limitations (aside from just the single day of the incident). Additionally, injuries that result in hearing loss, skin disorders, respiratory conditions, poisoning, or injuries that required more than first aid care. Beyond first aid care would be considered the use of a prescription strength drug, stitches, physical therapy, and much more.

If you or your company need any assistance with OSHA/MIOSHA logs and forms, with determining applicability of recordable injuries, or any other safety assistance, you may contact us at Safety@CompOne.net.

Posted in 2023, JANUARY 2023 | Comments Off on OSHA Log And Forms

Advocacy Update

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

Housing Michigan Coalition Bills Signed By Governor

On December 13, a package of bills supported by the Housing Michigan Coalition was signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The bipartisan bills provide a set of tools for local governments to facilitate development of attainable housing supply. A brief description of the bills is as follows:

  • SB 362 – Creates a new act, the Attainable Housing Facilities Act, to allow a city, township or village to establish one or more attainable housing districts. A district would allow an owner of a rental property of no more than 4 units that is built new or rehabilitated to receive a tax abatement if certain requirements are met.
  • SB 364 – Amends the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Act to allow any city, village or township to designate a neighborhood enterprise zone (NEZ). Currently only county seats and certain distressed communities can do so. NEZ designation provides for property tax abatements to encourage the development and rehabilitation of housing.
  • SB 422 – Creates the Residential Housing Facilities Act to allow a city, township or village to establish one or more residential housing districts. Rental property owners in the district would receive a tax abatement for renting to households with combined annual income of 120% or less of the county median income, and rent cannot exceed 30% of the household’s income.
  • SB 432 – Amends the State Housing Development Authority Act to exempt from ad valorem property taxes a workforce housing project that has been approved for exemption by a city, village or township. The owner would pay an annual charge for public services in lieu of taxes.

All of the bills except SB 364 were given immediate effect. SB 364 goes into effect in June 2023.

ESA Legislation Fails to Move
Disappointingly, legislation which would have strengthened state law to help prevent the false representation of possession of an emotional support animal (ESA) failed to move in the final days of the 2021-22 session. The bill previously passed the Michigan House of Representatives and enjoyed bipartisan support. However, continued concerns expressed by Whitmer Administration officials over the potential impact on federal funding if the bill passed has delayed its movement.

Efforts to pass this important legislation will renew in the 2023-24 session, but the process will start over as bills do not carry over from session to session.

Posted in 2023, JANUARY 2023 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Pencil-Whipped Safety Policy

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

So often, I see outdated cookie-cutter safety policies that are, simply put, terrible. They are copied-and-pasted, taken straight from generic templates, or policies that don’t even correspond to what the company does. These pencil-whipped policies easily show lack of concern for employee safety by having only generic safety rules that hold employees liable by having them sign their name off after they read it. There are safety policies that are only written to be within compliance, and then there are safety policies that are used as tools to perfect and elevate your company to safer and better working environments. Your company safety policy is a chance to inform, guide, teach and reference. There are not many opportunities that employers have to provide all four of these at once, especially after employees settle into new positions. Let’s face it, if employees glanced through the first paragraph of your safety manual and are met with complicated wording, confusing legal jargon, or intimidating consequences, they will more than likely not continue to read any more.

So, how do you make a policy worth-while to read and actually implement? Think about a time when you picked up a newspaper, user manual, book, or the box in which your food came in. You read with the intent to educate, inform, understand, or even entertain yourself. If you picked up a box of frozen lasagna with intent to determine what temperatures to cook and for how long, but instead were met with instructions that simply stated, “If lasagna is not cooked to correct internal temperature, food-borne illness may occur,” you simply would not have any helpful information. These same principles apply with written safety policy. If you search “downloadable safety policy” and look through some of the links, you will find broad safety statements such as “Each employee has the responsibility to work safely at all times, or risk injury and progressive discipline.” While this induces fear into the employee, it does not offer any means of actual instruction. A policy needs to be informative, company-specific, helpful, and equally important, readable.

What needs to be in a company safety policy? Everything that is specific to your company’s safety policy with clear direction on the overall aspects of safety. If there are certain positions that have responsibilities for safety, expectations that need to be followed, or helpful information, all of these should be outlined in the policy with detail. Example #1: Vehicle Incident Reports (DOC.ID-1234) shall be completed and signed, by the employee who was operating the vehicle at the time of the incident, and submitted to the Human Resources Assistant no later than 24 hours after the incident occurred. Example #2: Over-lifting contribute to 25% of [Company ABC] claims in the year 2021. It is encouraged that all employees utilize team-lifting for items over 50 pounds, and required to team-lift items over 70 pounds. Before lifting, you shall plan your route out with the corresponding employee, and clear the route of any trip hazards.

Both of these examples provide detailed information, guidance, and expectations, rather than simply “Incidents reports need to be completed and turned in by employees” or “all employees shall lift safely.”

What doesn’t need to be in a company safety policy? Step-by-step instructions on how to do everything safety related. This is for specific job safety analysis or standard operating procedures. Additionally, leave out specific names, unless it is something that involves immediate contact upon an emergency. Roles change and people move internally or leave companies. Having names may cause confusion and will set you up for failure as the policies will need to be modified every single time there is a change in employment. Lastly, leave out “fluff.” Not to be confused with basic safety knowledge, but rather the stuff that adds no value. Examples of fluff: “We take safety serious here at [Company 123].” If this needs to be spelled out, then it probably isn’t taken serious.

A strong safety policy provides the foundation to a strong safety culture. Email safety@compone.net if you or your company needs assistance building your own safety policy.

Posted in 2022, DECEMBER 2022 | Comments Off on Pencil-Whipped Safety Policy

Advocacy Update

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

Housing Michigan Coalition Bills Pass House

A package of bills supported by the Housing Michigan Coalition has passed the Michigan House of Representatives. In general, the bills provide a set of tools for local governments to facilitate development of attainable housing supply. A brief description of the bills is as follows:

  • SB 362 – Creates a new act, the Attainable Housing Facilities Act, to allow a city, township or village to establish one or more attainable housing districts. A district would allow an owner of a rental property of no more than 4 units that is built new or rehabilitated to receive a tax abatement if certain requirements are met.
  • SB 364 – Amends the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Act to allow any city, village or township to designate a neighborhood enterprise zone (NEZ). Currently only county seats and certain distressed communities can do so. NEZ designation provides for property tax abatements to encourage the development and rehabilitation of housing.
  • SB 422 – Creates the Residential Housing Facilities Act to allow a city, township or village to establish one or more residential housing districts. Rental property owners in the district would receive a tax abatement for renting to households with combined annual income of 120 percent or less of the county median income, and rent cannot exceed 30 percent of the household’s income.
  • SB 432 – Amends the State Housing Development Authority Act to exempt from ad valorem property taxes a workforce housing project that has been approved for exemption by a city, village or township. The owner would pay an annual charge for public services in lieu of taxes.

All of these bills were previously passed by the Michigan Senate, but must go back to that chamber for concurrence. A big thanks to Dawn Crandall of Home Builders Association of Michigan for her work on this important coalition effort!

Michigan House and Senate Leadership Elected
Fresh off the election, Democrats and Republicans elected their leadership teams for the 2023-2024 Legislative Session. In the House, Democrats elected Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) to the position of Speaker of the House. Rep. Tate will become Michigan’s first black Speaker. On the Republican side, Rep. Matt Hall (R-Comstock Park) will lead that caucus as Minority Leader. Democrats hold a 56-54 majority in the Michigan House.
In the Senate, Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) will take over as Majority Leader for the Democrats. Sen. Brinks will become Michigan’s first female Majority Leader. On the Republican side, Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) will become the Minority Leader. Democrats hold a 20-18 advantage in the Michigan Senate.

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