Winter PPE – Personal Protective Equipment

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

It should not be a surprise that winter brings cold temperatures every year in the Midwest, which makes just about every job a bit harder. Whether we work inside or outside, everyone should have some means of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help combat the winter’s bitter cold. Although PPE may be the last thing to be considered for the control of a hazard, as seen in the hierarchy of controls, it is sometimes the only means of control for being in the outside elements. While most people think gloves when someone mentions protective gear, there is so much more that should be considered to ensure your safety and the safety of your employees. This may mean including things that you may have never considered to be “safety gear,” such as a base layer (or long johns), a decent pair of socks and a caffeine-free drink to help maintain body temperature.

The key to getting and maintaining proper body temperature during cold winter months is to dress in layers. And yes, to answer the question, this means for both those who work inside and out. Additionally, when working outside in the cold weather, there are both hazards of being too cold and of being too warm. Start with a lightweight base layer – something that alone will not be warm enough – yet still light enough that it can be worn with another layer – while still being cool enough to rest inside while not doing any physical work. The next layer, after your base layer, should also be something lightweight and breathable at the same or similar thickness as your base layer. The third layer should vary depending on the temperatures and your susceptibility to the cold. If the temperatures are above freezing, you would want medium-thick waterproof outerwear as this final layer. If the temperatures are below freezing, this should not be your final layer and it does not have to be waterproof, but something that is still breathable and heavier than your two initial layers. Lastly, if needed, an additional (fourth) layer as your outermost layer: a water-resistant and windproof zip-up or button-up layer.

The importance of socks cannot be overstated for personal safety, period. I would almost go as far as to say that if an employee’s job description requires them to work outside in cold weather for the duration of their shift, then an employer should either supply adequate socks or require that employees wear adequate socks. While there is no regulation in OSHA’s standards that specifically states the need for protective socks, there could be an argument for it in the General Duty Clause that OSHA provides, if there is a known hazard or previous injury with cold stress.

So, what make a sock a form of protective gear from cold weather? There is a combination of thickness, material and height of sock that differentiates a good sock from a bad sock! Preferably, for winter, a sock made up of wool, fleece, a combination of the two, or a similar synthetic blend, should be used. The reasoning behind this is that these materials are able to get wet, either from stepping in some water or from foot perspiration, and not lose their insulation properties! Depending on your shoe/boot selection and your preference, a sock should always be at least an inch higher than the top of your footwear. The thickness should depend on how cold it is and what physical activity you are doing. If you are on your feet often, thicker padded bottoms are preferred. Try to avoid layering socks and choose a single sock that works best for you as it can be difficult to take off layers of socks while working.

Lastly, caffeine-free and alcohol-free hot drink works best to keep your temps stable and keep you hydrated. Both caffeine and alcohol hinder the body’s ability to create heat, which makes the body’s core temperature drop, despite how it makes you feel mentally. Instead, enjoy caffeine-free tea, warm apple cider or even a caffeine-free hot cocoa. If you are interested in more help with winter PPE, feel free to reach out to me at 734-309-3456 or daday@compone.net.

Posted in 2021, March 2021 | Comments Off on Winter PPE – Personal Protective Equipment

Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Vice President Government Affairs and Industry Relations

Emotional Support Animal Legislation Vetoed By Governor Whitmer

In a disappointing end to the 2019-2020 Michigan Legislative Session, Governor Whitmer vetoed the emotional support animal legislation supported by AAM and other rental property organizations. The veto came on the heels of Senate passage of the bills on December 18th. The Michigan House of Representatives originally passed the bills in March of 2020, and then concurred the Senate-amended legislation on December 21st. As you may recall, this legislation was a two-bill effort to help prevent the false representation of possession of an emotional support animal (ESA). The first bill, House Bill 4910, would have created the “Misrepresentation of Emotional Support Animals Act.” This bill proposed:

  • A definitional framework for state law
  • Bars individuals and health care providers from falsely representing a disability or possession of an ESA
  • Allow disability documentation requests by housing providers after resident signs authorization
  • Requirements for health care providers who prescribe ESAs
  • Penalty provisions for violations of the law
  • Allowance for lease termination for false representation
  • Directive to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to establish a hotline which would receive reports of false representations and complaints

The second bill, House Bill 4911, would have amended the Revised Judicature Act to support termination of a lease for misrepresentation of an emotional support animal.
In her veto letter, the Governor stated, “While I appreciate the intent behind these bills – to ensure that housing providers are able to verify the need for emotional support animals – these bills result in too great an intrusion on the privacy of people with disabilities.” Encouragingly, however, the Governor committed to working toward a compromise on the issue. The final sentence of her letter states, “Nevertheless, I look forward to working with the legislature to craft a solution that strikes a better balance between the need of housing providers to verify information and the privacy rights of people with disabilities.” With the veto and the end of the legislative session, the bills will need to be reintroduced in 2021 and the process starts over.

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

Conducting A Safety Audit

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

There is no secret that every company out there is not 100 percent compliant with every applicable safety standard and regulation at any given point of time. In fact, it is likely that you could go to the top ten safest companies in America and still find safety issues that should be corrected. However, just because it is unlikely that you will ever achieve a 100 percent compliant company, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still set goals to reach 100 percent compliance.

It is part of the OSHA General Duty Clause to have a workplace that is free from recognized hazards. That means you should be checking for recognized hazards in some fashion. A great way to do this would be through the means of an audit. Audits give us a chance to find issues that are either ignored or not seen by those who are exposed to the hazards. Audits should be conducted by both internal employees and third party personnel to ensure that all potential hazards are seen and corrected before they lead to accidents.
Internal audits are audits that are performed by employees within your company who understand basic OSHA regulations. This could be safety monitors, where safety is a very small part of their job, like supervisors, foreman, maintenance staff, or anyone else who is in the area or work-setting on a daily or weekly basis with a good sense of safety. These individuals will have the greatest understanding of how machines operate, what tools work as they should, and what work is performed and how it is done. Additionally, these individuals will be most competent in knowing the exact ins and outs of why certain hazards are neglected or ignored. The information that these employees obtain cannot be substituted by any 3rd party auditor, which gives reason why internal audits are critical to understanding how safety concerns arise and finding long term solutions that work.

Internal audits should be conducted on a set schedule, depending on your level of risks and your available resources. This may vary between weekly safety audits for those companies who work on-location and the environment is constantly changing, to monthly or quarterly in working environments that have very little day to day changes.

Third party audits are audits that are conducted by a trained safety professional who is familiar with the work that your company performs. These audits allows for a new set of eyes to come in and inspect your work, facility, or job-site. Having a qualified safety inspector who knows any and all applicable safety regulations is critical to ensuring that you are within compliance and are covered if a random OSHA inspection occurs. Third party inspections can range from very specific inspections in a certain area or job location, to spot check style audits to see from a general view if your company is moving in the right direction, to a complete wall-to-wall (or site line to site line) inspection. These audits should be conducted usually on an annual basis and there should be some form of a written report generated that indicates your company’s area of strengths and where there could be improvements. Additionally, unless asked otherwise, almost all third party auditors keep the information confidential between the auditor and the company being audited, so there is no sense in trying to hide or cover up any safety issues. Another great reason for a third party audit is that auditors are able to give you corrective action examples for improvements.

If you need some assistance creating your own internal audit, or if you are interested in having a third party auditor come on-site and conduct any level of safety audit for you, CompOne is able to help! We have created an extensive audit with 25 different sections that covers everything from incident investigation to powered industrial trucks and everything in-between. Additionally, if you would like to improve or even create a safety, machine, equipment, or general audit that can be completed by one of your own employees on a set schedule but are unsure of where to start, we are able to assist with that as well. Feel free to give me a call at 734-309-3456 or email me at daday@compone.net.

Posted in 2021, February 2021 | Comments Off on Conducting A Safety Audit

Work From Home Safety

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

While several companies still require employees to work either on job-site, at location or on the road, many are now having some positions work from home for the foreseeable future. Employers are finding that productivity and employee morale tends to increase, and office expenses and utility bills seem to drop, when we shift to working at home. However, something employers are finding more often now, is that working from home can be an ergonomic nightmare! Whether it is back strain, a sore neck or early carpel tunnel, most ergonomic injuries take months to become a recognized problem and take even longer to heal. Those working from home should consider these three ergonomic factors: a proper chair, a proper working surface and a proper environment.

Although it may seem like a good idea to set up shop on the living room recliner and begin reading emails while sitting in comfort, it absolutely should not be considered. Yes, it is comfortable to sit on a recliner or the couch but there is a difference that should be understood between something that is comfortable and something that is ergonomic. An ergonomic chair would imply that you are able to freely sit in it for the duration of your work day and not have any aches or pains. The difference between something that is comfy and something that is ergonomic, is that a comfy chair does not promote adequate posture and allows your muscles to relax for extended periods of time, eventually weakening them and increasing the chance of injury. Ideally, a rated office chair will promote sitting upright and support the natural curve of your back, while also allowing your feet to rest on the floor with your knees slightly below your hips.

While the name implies that you could use it without a desk, a laptop should be treated the same as a computer when working from home – having an external keyboard, mouse and monitor. The importance of having a secondary or primary monitor for your work station at a proper height cannot be understated. The top of your monitor should be just below your eye level and about arm’s length away. This keeps your neck and head level and you do not end up with a sore or strained neck. A keyboard, separate from the laptop, if possible, should be just below elbow height, which leads us to the most important aspect of this factor: an adequate working surface is a must. A work surface that is too tall is going to create a hard corner that is going to pinch a lot of nerves and lead to long term issues, such as carpel tunnel. A work surface that is too short is going to have you leaning forward and lead to back problems that come with slouching. Additionally, ensure the surface you are working on has plenty of space that does not cramp or limit your working area.

Lastly, working from home should be treated very similarly to working in the office. You should have a designated working area that is free of clutter, tripping hazards, excessive noise and anything else that could cause injury while working. This not only ensures a safe working environment, but also promotes productivity. Even though someone may be in their own household, if someone is within their working hours and they are injured as a result of something that could be work-related (such as tripping while walking over to a printer) the injury could be considered work-related. Additionally, at-home safety audits can be done to see where there may be hazards of working in your own home.

Since home office environments are so incredibly different from typical office environments, there is no “one size fits all” procedure, practice or recommendation. As long as you stick to the three main factors – having a proper chair, an adequate working surface and an environment that promotes safe working – you will be headed in the right direction!

If you have any specific questions in regards to your working area, recommendations on ergonomic equipment or anything else safety or ergonomic related, please feel free to reach out to Daniel Aday at daday@compone.net.

Posted in 2021, January 2021 | Comments Off on Work From Home Safety

Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Vice President Government Affairs and Industry Relations

Rent Control Bills Do Not Advance

As the 2019-2020 Michigan Legislative Session came to an end, two efforts related to rent control did not advance in the Michigan Senate. The first bill, Senate Bill 1129, proposed a complete repeal of the existing law which prohibits local governments in Michigan from enacting rent control ordinances. A second effort, which was a two-bill package, proposed to allow rent control in specific situations, with the potential for offsetting property tax breaks. These bills would have authorized local units of government to limit rent for disabled individuals and senior citizens. AAM’s work does not end here, however, as it is expected that these bills will be reintroduced in the next legislative session.

Michigan House Leadership Elected
House Republicans have elected their leadership team for the 2021-2022 Legislative Session. Rep. Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) was elected by the Republican caucus as their leader for the next session and will become Speaker once elected by the full House. Wentworth served as House Speaker Pro Tem in the last session and, due to term limits, will be the fourth single term Republican Speaker. Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp.) will be Speaker Pro Tem and Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso) will serve as Majority Floor Leader. On the Democratic side, Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.) will lead that caucus as Minority Leader. Ms. Lasinski becomes the fourth woman to lead a legislative caucus. Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) will serve as Minority Floor Leader. Republicans hold a 58-52 majority in the Michigan House for 2021-22, the identical majority they held in the previous session.

Thank You From AAM-PAC
Our efforts to support elected officials who understand the important role of rental housing in Michigan’s economy took another positive step with the 2020 General Election. AAM-PAC scored a 100 percent success rate in Michigan House legislative races in which we financially supported a candidate! Of course, none of this success would have been possible without the generous contributions to the fund from the membership.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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