At Home Safety

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

When most think of the word “safety” they will most likely relate it to some means of occupational activity like construction, office ergonomics or manufacturing. What we don’t necessarily think about is all the safety that is required at home. Even though it may be the place where you find yourself the most comfortable, it may also contain hazards that could potentially harm you, your pets or family. While there are several types of hazards, they can all be grouped into two categories to determine how to protect yourself in the best possible way: Health Hazards and Physical Hazards.

Health Hazards can be classified as anything that could cause illness to you or anyone else in your household. This can range from carbon monoxide poisoning, to accidental drug usage, to radon poisoning, to chemical poisoning. The National Safety Council estimates that 52,000 people were killed in their homes in 2017 due to poison related incidents. Employers are required to keep inventory of what hazardous substances are on-property. You should ensure that you keep an inventory (or an idea) of what is in your house! For things you can’t control, such as dangerous gasses and vapors, get CO detectors (and regularly change the batteries), other gas monitors and conduct annual radon tests. Radon should not only be measured when you first purchase a house. Summer levels of radon may be very different than winter levels, so ensure that you test in different seasons.

Chemicals, such as cleaners, solvents, oils, paints, detergents and anything else found in the garage or under the kitchen or bathroom sink, should all be consolidated as much as possible. If there are infants or young children in the house, place any liquid that should not be consumed, high up on a shelf or in a locked cabinet. Stop what you are doing right now and put in the Poison Control’s Hotline in your phone: 1-800-222-1222. You never know when you are going to need it! Ensure that when using cleaners, you do not mix ingredients that should not mix, such as bleach and anything with ammonia in it (which can create a mustard gas) or vinegar. Be careful not to leave out any type of medicine, OTC or prescribed. Not all medicine is labeled with what it is in the pill itself and you do not want to guess what it is. Do your part to protect the health of everyone in your home.

Physical Hazards are going to be just about everything else in your home that could cause injury or property damage, such as house fires, slippery floors and stairs without railings. Most accidents occur in two locations – bathroom and kitchen. That is because this is where there are generally slick surfaces, sharp objects, hot appliances and, typically, a lot more traffic.

Let’s address the most common concern first: home fires. Fires can result from a few different areas – cooking in the kitchen, portable heaters and electrical fires and smoking or candles. When in the kitchen, always keep an eye on things on the stove and in the oven. Never leave them unattended. Keep all your appliances, furnace, portable heaters, and all electrical cords, panels and objects up to date. Hire a professional for repairs if you are unsure of how to fix them. While candles can create lovely smells in the house, they should never be left in a room unattended, especially with pets in the home. Also, there should always be a fire extinguisher on every level of your home. Make sure it is inspected regularly.

The second biggest concern is slips, trips and falls, which is not only a concern for the elderly, but for all ages. Keep all hallways and high-traffic areas free of clutter and well-lit at night. Installing a second handrail on all your steps will reduce the chance of falling up or down the stairs. This includes the front porch, upstairs and downstairs. In the bathroom, use non-slip pads or traction stickers to prevent shower slips. And lastly, keep your home clean and your likelihood of injury will decrease!

For additional information, feel free to reach out to me, Daniel Aday, at daday@compone.net or at 734-309-3456.

Posted in 2021, SEPTEMBER 2021 | Comments Off on At Home Safety

Advocacy Update

Forrest Wall March 2021Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Director of Regulatory & Legal Affairs, Home Builders Association of Michigan

Governor Whitmer Signs Additional Renter Assistance Legislation
On June 23rd, Governor Whitmer signed legislation appropriating over $2.2 billion in federal stimulus funding. Of that total, $378.3 million is directed for additional renter assistance via the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) Program. You may recall the CERA program was originally started in March with a $282 million appropriation of federal funds. That initial funding was exhausted in June, so the additional funding will allow the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to continue rent and utility assistance under CERA. The program assists rental households at or below 80% of area median income (AMI) who can show a COVID related financial hardship.

Legislation Would Restore Proper Code Promulgation In Michigan
An important piece of legislation for multifamily builders is receiving bipartisan support in the legislature. The legislation, introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives as House Bill 4648 and in the Michigan Senate as Senate Bill 363, would restore a long-standing practice of using advisory committees to develop Michigan’s construction codes. For more than four decades codes were thoughtfully reviewed by these broad-based committees which consisted of experts in each respective code. In 2018, however, the Department of Licensing and Regulation abandoned the use of committees in favor of a two-person review which operates with little transparency and limited public participation. HB 4648 is currently before the House Committee on Regulatory Reform, while SB 363 will be considered by the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development.

Supreme Court Delays Personal ID Rule
On June 30th, one day before the effective date, the Michigan Supreme Court issued orders delaying a new rule which would negatively impact tenant background screening services. The rule, originally drafted in May 2019, calls for the redacting of birth dates from court records in Michigan. Although the intent of the rule is to protect personal identification information, background screening companies have complained it will significantly delay or even stop background checks in Michigan by restricting date of birth information. The Supreme Court action delays the effective date of the rule until January 1, 2022 to allow more time to craft a solution to the problem.

Posted in 2021, August 2021 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

General Workplace Safety

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

When it comes down to it, every accident that happens has a common theme: not understanding the hazard, or the potential hazard. This might be due to a lack of training, understanding, care, awareness, PPE or another factor that is lacking. When we are constantly aware of our surroundings, know where the hazards are, know the consequences of the hazards and know how to handle each hazard, then we can take one step closer to being an accident-free workplace. There is a saying, “The safest workplace is one that has their doors closed.” This means that as long as there is work being performed, there are hazards for someone to get hurt. General workplace safety consists of three main aspects: be aware of your surroundings, do not become complacent, and continually improve on the safety of tasks.

Time and time again, I see on incident reports: “Be more aware of your surroundings.” While it may seem insignificant to most, I would argue that there is quite a bit of truth to it. With the number of distractions we face at work – including cell phones, co-workers, noise, customers/residents/general public, time crunches, pressure from managers, thinking about things not work-related, etc., – it is easy to become distracted. However, it is hard to say “just ignore those thing and focus on the task at hand.” Instead, you can reduce the distractions as well as possible to make them more manageable. Too noisy? Get ear plugs! Always tempted to check your phone? Turn off data or put your phone on silent. Non-work stressors keep popping in your head? Keep a small notepad with you and write items down, so you do not have to constantly remind yourself of them. Then, check back on them after work.

Complacency starts out as a small drop of confidence, but slowly grows with each corner that is cut. When we build up too much confidence in taking short-cuts, not wearing PPE or not following policy, we tend to get bitten by complacency. This may be a cut on the hand from a broken hand tool, or having to go see a chiropractor from slouching in our chair for the past 10 years. There are two notable groups of seniority that make up the majority of accidents: those who just started (have not learned the hazards of the task) and those who have worked the longest. For the second group, there are many factors contributing to why they are involved in accidents, but complacency is a key reason. If you find yourself saying, “really quick” after saying you need to do something, stop and ask yourself: Are you are saving time by not following safety rules?

Last, but not least, there is always room for improvement. Whether you are a small business with less than 10 people, or a fairly large operation, always seek out how you can improve safety. Improvements should not only be made by upper management, owners and supervisors, but by all levels of employees. Create a suggestion box and actually evaluate and implement suggestions. Allow for a workplace that promotes and encourages safety ideas. You can create incentives for those who create and implement safety improvements as part of their daily duties. OSHA and MIOSHA continue to modify and change regulations. At the very least, you should check in on these updated regulations and see if you need to make any changes to your own company policy.

As much as it hurts to say “accidents happen,” there is truth in it. Accidents may happen, but the same accident should never happen twice! Find good corrective actions once an accident occurs, inform all affected by the incident of the changes to come, retrain as needed and ensure your policy is enforced. Continue to improve, and if you are not sure where to start, check to see where you are with an internal or external audit.

If you or your company are looking for any assistance with general safety, safety training on any topic, incident investigation or external auditing, feel free to reach out to me, Daniel Aday, at daday@compone.net or at 734-309-3456.

Posted in 2021, August 2021 | Comments Off on General Workplace Safety

Safety Data Sheets – What Are They? Why Do You Need Them?

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

Safety Data Sheets, also known as “SDS” or “MSDS” (material safety data sheets, formerly), are an encompassing document on a single product, formula, chemical or material that describe the product’s properties to a user. This includes the environmental, health and physical effects it may impact if exposed, along with proper handling, storage and maintenance of that product. Essentially, an SDS is the job application of the product and you’re the recruiter seeing if you would hire it. Although often overlooked, SDSs are incredibly important to understand in terms of your employees’ safety and ensuring you are in compliance with local and federal rules and regulations.

So, what do SDSs actually contain? All SDSs are required to contain 16 sections that break down almost every aspect of the product. The sections are: Identification, Hazards, Composition (ingredients), First Aid Measures, Firefighting Measures, Accidental Release Measures, Handling and Storage, Exposure Control (PPE), Physical and Chemical Properties, Stability and Reactivity, Toxicological Information, Ecological Information, Disposal Considerations, Transport Information, Regulatory Information and Other Information. These sections were determined by the Globally Harmonized Systems of Classifications and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and are to be used all over the world for a universal means of identifying hazards. If you have any questions on a chemical or product, you can reference these sheets, which is why it is so important to have them available before you need them!

For example, if you have an employee who may be having an allergic reaction to something, you may easily reference the SDS and see the list of ingredients, to determine if any of them are of concern. Another reason is to give you information on how to properly store cleaners, such as storing vinegar and bleach in separate cabinets.
In addition to these reasons for having SDSs available, it is an OSHA (and MIOSHA) requirement! Whether you are in Construction or General Industry, OSHA’s Hazard Communication regulations require you to have SDSs for hazardous chemicals in your workplace AND have them in an organized, systematic and consistent manner AND you must train your employees on how to find the SDSs. If failure to do any of these laws is found by a MIOSHA or OSHA inspector, they may issue fines that will set you back thousands of dollars, per violation. Depending on your location, you may also need to have SDSs available for your local fire department. In the event of a fire at your location, the fire department needs to know if you have anything that may prolong a fire or create an additional hazard.

So, where should you start? While it may be tempting to just go grab an SDS binder and throw in every single SDS of each and every chemical you have on site, that plan may be destined for failure. You already should have SDSs made available within five days of receipt of a new chemical and post them for 10 days. Technically you do not need an SDS for household chemicals, if used within the same manner that a consumer would use them (i.e. same duration and frequency). However, if they are used on a more frequent basis, then you are required to have them. It is best to minimize the chemicals you have onsite, create a hazardous communication procedure and determine what chemicals are both efficient and safe to use. Once this list is established, using an online or shared folder that all employees have access to is a great means of storing all your SDSs. This way, you always have access to the chemicals anywhere, at any time. Lastly, continually ensure that your SDSs are updated every three years. Doing all of this is a great way to ensure you’re within compliance and your employees are safe!

If you are interested in finding out more information on SDSs and safety, please contact me at 734-309-3456 or email me at daday@compone.net.

Posted in 2021, JULY 2021 | Comments Off on Safety Data Sheets – What Are They? Why Do You Need Them?

Rule Change Creates Opportunities For Multifamily Developers

Written by David Wilkins, Managing Director, Real Estate Finance, Walker & Dunlop

Say what you want about HUD, they have been a stalwart of multifamily financing for more than a half century. Many local family offices employ HUD right alongside of agency and life company lending. For the right property and owner, HUD insured loans are a perfect fit.

Traditionally new developments, not currently HUD insured, were prevented from seeking out HUD insured loans due to what was commonly known as The Three-Year Rule. This long standing rule created many negative unintended consequences and was eliminated in 2020.

Developers of recently completed projects or those planned, may now consider the very popular 223(f) loan for their permanent financing solution. The 223 (f) carries many positive attributes, including generally the lowest long-term interest rate in the industry. Owners also recognize the higher leverage one can obtain through a HUD insured loan. Owners can achieve 80 percent and 85 percent loan to value and not suffer a higher rate of interest due to the higher leverage.

To bring this home for our Apartment Association readers: a Grand Rapids developer recently completed a 50+ unit town home development. The sub 3 percent; 35-year HUD insured loan funded all of the construction debt and returned equity to the developer.
In another recent example a Mid-Michigan based developer completed a large multifamily development project. Upon stabilization they considered: life company loans, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD insured loans. To compete with the HUD insured interest rate, they were compelled to shorten the loan term of the life company and other loan quotes. The shorter maturity and subsequent need to refinance would be occurring at a time when their brownfield tax incentives would be diminishing. In the end, the longer-term HUD loan better protected the ownership from an expected tax increase when the associated brownfield development benefits expired.

Owners are benefited by the many debt options available to them and the historic low interest rates we have recently experienced. As loan programs evolve and improve we will be pleased to share that news with you. n

David Wilkins is a Managing Director for Walker and Dunlop. He is an active member of the AAM. David can be reached at dwilkins@walkerdunlop.com

Posted in 2021, JULY 2021 | Comments Off on Rule Change Creates Opportunities For Multifamily Developers