Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations
ESA Issue Active On Both State & Federal Levels
As you may have read in my October article, legislation was introduced in September in the Michigan House of Representatives to strengthen state law to help prevent the false representation of possession of an emotional support animal. This legislation is now joined by identical bills in the Michigan Senate – Senate Bills 608 and 610 – introduced by Sen. Dale Zorn (R-17th District). Both the House legislation and the Senate versions recently started the legislative process with hearings before the House Regulatory Reform Committee and the Senate Local Government Committee. AAM Board Member Karlene Lehman of Princeton Enterprises testified at both hearings in support of the legislation. Ms. Lehman provided compelling evidence of the fraudulent documentation currently available, as well as the need for better standards under the law and penalties for those who falsely represent a need for an emotional support animal. Thank you for your advocacy on this issue, Karlene!
On a federal level, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has requested the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigate websites which sell questionable assistance animal (includes both emotional support and service animals) documentation. In a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph J. Simons, Secretary Carson stated, “These certificates are not an acceptable substitute for authentic documentation provided by medical professionals when appropriate.” This action is certainly a step in the right direction, but ultimately revised guidance from HUD is needed to further limit abuses of the law.
Amendments to Elliott-Larsen Act Introduced
Two bills have recently been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. House Bill 5157 proposes to amend both the title and section 502 of the act (relating to real estate transactions) to add victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to the protected classes under the statute. The second piece of legislation, House Bill 5224, would also amend both the title and section 502 to include military status. These bills join Senate Bill 351, introduced earlier this year, which would amend the act to include sexual orientation, gender identity or expression among the protected classes under the law. Currently, Michigan’s civil rights law prohibits discrimination in real estate transactions on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, familial status, and marital status.
Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations
Uniform Assignment of Rents Legislation Proposed
Legislation introduced in October in the Michigan House of Representatives would provide for a uniform act covering assignment of rents. House Bill 5086, sponsored by Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Kalamazoo), would create the “Michigan Uniform Assignment of Rents Act.” The purpose of the legislation is to create one act providing for the creation, perfection, and enforcement of security interests in rents, while at the same time repealing other sections of law currently covering this. The basis for this legislation comes from the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), which in 2005 released a model version for proposed adoption by every state in the U.S. The ULC is an organization made up of practicing lawyers, judges, legislators and law professors, all of whom are appointed by state governments. ULC seeks to draft model legislation for certain areas of critical state law in an effort to create uniformity and save states from the cost of preparing legislation themselves. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for action.
HUD Proposes Revision to Disparate Impact Rule
In August, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a proposal to amend its original rule interpreting the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard. Disparate impact is a controversial legal theory, formalized in the 2013 HUD rule which prohibits neutrally-applied practices with a disproportionate impact on protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, even without proving intent to discriminate. A 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. upheld the validity of disparate impact liability but highlighted limitations to that liability. The goal of the proposed rule is to align with the limitations cited in the majority ruling in that case to provide more appropriate guidance on what constitutes unlawful disparate impact.
Written By AJ Hale Jr. CSM-LSP, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Risk Manager
OSHA estimates that slips, trips and falls cause approximately 15% of accidental deaths. Second only to motor vehicle accidents. They also account for between 12% and 15% of Workers’ Compensation costs. The average cost for one disabling injury now approaching $30,000.
From a regulatory standpoint, there are two types of falls. They are:
1. On same level: high frequency, low severity
2. From elevations: low frequency, high severity
The primary contributing factors, are:
- Wet, slippery, oily floors/stairs.
- Loose, irregular surfaces, such as rocks.
- Insufficient light.
- Uneven walkways or sidewalks.
- Shoes with slick soles or raised heels.
- Moving too fast.
- Carrying items (impair balance, obstruct vision).
- Objects on the floor (e.g., paperclips, food).
- Shifting floor tiles.
- Not watching while walking/moving.
- Spilled liquids.
- Cords across walkways.
There are four steps we can take to help eliminate these types of injuries:
1. Find the problem/hazard. Ask yourself:
- Is the area wet, slippery, or cluttered?
- Are employees moving too quickly?
- Is the area poorly lit?
- Are stairs steep or in poor condition?
2. Check it out. Ask yourself:
- Is the problem area near the area high-traffic?
- Is the area properly lit?
- Are employees wearing proper footwear?
- Are “wet floor” signs in place?
- Are floors being mopped one-half at a time?
- Is walking surface more slippery due to its construction?
- Is area outside and subject to weather?
3. Fix it
If possible, eliminate or control the hazard immediately (e.g., having spills wiped up).
If not possible, take steps to alert people and then determine what can be done to eliminate or control the hazard.
4. Look at it again
- Ensure the hazard/problem was repaired, eliminated or controlled.
- Does the area have to be checked periodically to ensure the hazard/problem does not return?
- Determine if any training is required for affected employees.
- Should appropriate signage be posted?
More Prevention Suggestions
- Ensure walkways and stairways are well lit.
- Portable ladders should be stable and secure when used, and support a minimum of 250 lbs.
- Have “wet floor” signs posted where necessary.
- Apply non-skid coating or floor mats in areas where floors are likely to be slippery or wet.
- Encourage employees, residents and guests to report hazardous situations as soon as possible.
- Train employees to look for slip/trip/fall hazards.
- Situations that are identified as hazardous should be investigated and corrected as soon as possible.
Safety requires everyone to communicate and work together!
Should you require assistance with understanding or applying the OSHA or MIOSHA Standards, please contact AJ Hale, CompOne Administrators Inc./Rizikon, at 269-789-9166 or firstname.lastname@example.org
OSHA and MIOSHA
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.
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?
- 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: email@example.com
Source material and statistics are from OSHA, NHTSA, and ConeZoneBC.