With the arrival of autumn, the highway department faces several hazards this time of year.
Driving changes: With days being shorter, night driving increases. Morning driving will be done in complete darkness, creating limited sight distances and impairing vision. Due to daylight saving time, early evening driving will be riskier as the sun sets earlier. Make your drivers aware of these changes and prepare for them.
Roads filled with leaves: Even in dry conditions, leaves accumulating on the roadways create slick surfaces as vehicle tires cannot directly touch the pavement. During these times, it’s important to stress to your drivers to slow down.
Drivers should maneuver around corners cautiously, expect a decrease in traction and avoid short stops, as a vehicle is likely to skid and lose control. Skilled drivers who are adept at driving in these conditions still need to drive defensively.
Indoor work increases: When the warm weather turns to cooler days, many work crews head indoors to the garage. This is a perfect time to assess the condition of the garage and improve housekeeping to accommodate more bodies. It is a good idea to:
Heating unit maintenance: It is likely that your furnace or heating unit has not been utilized all summer and will need to operate full tilt in the coming weeks. Inspect the unit for proper operation. Ensure filters are cleaned or replaced for adequate ventilation around the intake vents. Confirm heating fuel is topped off and lines are intact with no leaks. Confirm exhaust fumes are vented to the outside and away from any workspaces. Boilers need to be inspected by a qualified boiler inspector every two years. A certificate of inspection needs to be located on or near the boilers.
Readying for winter operations: Fall season is usually a time when roadwork maintenance draws to a close and trucks are equipped with snowplows. You should review your procedures for mounting plows onto trucks and safely installing cutting edges on the plows is essential. Please review these policies with all applicable highway staff, as plows and cutting edges are heavy, cumbersome items that can cause serious injuries if they fell onto an employee. Severe leg and foot injuries have been reported during plow and edge mounting.
The Safe Workplace Award Program is a monetary award provided to the safest workplaces in New York State. We are pleased to announce New York State Municipal Workers’ Compensation Alliance (Comp Alliance) Safe Workplace Award for eligible members during policy year 2021.This award benefits Comp Alliance members who have had positive loss experience and contributed to the financial well-being of the program during a given policy year.
The Comp Alliance Board of Trustees appreciates its members that continue to perform well and have contributed to its continued success. As a result, distribution of nearly $450,000 will be sent to the qualified January renewal members for their performance during the 2021 policy year.
As the Comp Alliance continues its history of predictable rates and financial stability, we are proud to be in a position to give back to the members. In the past four years, the Comp Alliance has distributed annual Loyalty Award checks and Safe Workplace Awards.
The Comp Alliance Board of Trustees will continue to evaluate the program's financial condition on an annual basis and determine eligibility for the program going forward.
A large majority of municipal operations have departments where heavy equipment is being operated by staff. All heavy equipment requires trained personnel to operate them safely and contribute to an injury-free workplace.
Recent events have resulted in tragic outcomes for highway and public works environments. Earlier this year, a forklift operator was killed when he was pinned between the rear of the forklift and a metal rack he was working on. The cause of the loss was the forklift being driven by an untrained worker who was unfamiliar with the safe operations of the forklift. This example emphasizes the requirement to have staff be properly trained.
Another recent example resulting in a tragic loss of life, a truck driver/equipment operator was loading an excavator onto a low-boy trailer when the excavator slipped off the side of the trailer, crushing the operator as he was ejected from the seat. The cause of this incident included the operator’s apparent ejection from the excavator onto the ground where the excavator rolled over. The operator was not wearing a seatbelt while moving the excavator and there was no spotter to assist with the loading process.
Unfortunately, there are other examples of equipment operators being injured or killed in the workplace around heavy equipment. Accidents like these include roll-over events, striking loader buckets, falling debris, etc. The key to reducing or eliminating such injuries is training on the safe operation of the equipment and using situational awareness. Only properly trained and knowledgeable staff should be permitted to operate heavy equipment such as loaders, excavators, forklifts, graders, rollers, and others. When untrained staff attempt to maneuver these large and powerful machines, workplace injuries are likely to result.
The causes of loss for most incidents involving heavy equipment are related to untrained or inexperienced operators. Proper training on equipment will educate workers, help prevent future incidents, and provide situational awareness.
For additional information contact:
Director of Loss Control
Phone: (518) 330-8591
The Comp Alliance is always looking for ways to improve school safety culture through loss control inspections, training, safety committee participation, and safety bulletins. With the start of the school year just a few days away, now is a great time to talk about safety for your school staff, including teachers, maintenance, custodians, coaches, and bus drivers.
As part of this safety focus, we are providing daily safety tips for the week leading up to the opening day of school. Beginning Monday, August 29th, and running through Friday, September 2nd, our safety tips will focus on areas of risk and prevention, where staff can assess the hazard and implement corrective actions to keep themselves and their co-workers safe.
These tips will remind staff of the importance of safety, completing injury-free work, and maintaining a positive attitude throughout final preparations for opening day!
Safety Tip #1: School Workplace Injuries – How to Avoid Them
As the start of the school year is upon us, and your staff orientation process begins anew, it is a great time to review safety practices with school personnel. It’s essential to communicate the importance of safe work practices with staff. The basis of a good safety program is for staff to understand where injuries might occur and take proactive measures to avoid them whenever possible.
School district injuries occur most frequently from three sources: Slips, Trips, and Falls, Back Injuries from Lifting, and Struck/Hit by Student.
Tips for avoiding these causes of workplace injuries include:
Applying classroom housekeeping and lifting techniques helps remove hazards that lead to injuries. Now is a great time to remind all staff of the risks of injury and the importance of good housekeeping and hazard removal. Educate your school staff on maintaining a positive safety culture, and the school year will likely be an overwhelming success.
The Comp Alliance wishes all our school district members and employees a safe and prosperous 2022-2023 school year!
Safety Tip #2: Safe Lifting Techniques to Avoid Back Injuries
Training employees to ensure safety and security in the workplace is a school’s top priority. Since custodial work requires moving around extensive facilities and dealing with various hazards, any lack of control of the work environment promotes injuries. While these injuries are minor, they occur frequently.
About 1 out of every 96 employees sustain a nonfatal illness or injury that keeps them from performing their jobs. Learning how to bend, lift, and handle items throughout the day is essential for custodial teams in preventing injuries on the job.
Here are some easy steps they can follow to limit risks and improve janitorial safety.
When lifting and emptying buckets be sure to:
Repeated lifting and carrying of loads increase the risk of back injury. Do not lift anything too heavy. Check the weight to be sure that you are comfortable with the lift.
Practicing lifting techniques will help to ensure that the school staff are safe. The Comp Alliance wishes all our school members a healthy and safe 2022-23 school year.
Safety Tip #3: Slips, Trips and Falls: A Loss Leader That Can Be Prevented
Slips, trips, and falls in schools result in strains, sprains, contusions, and fractures are the leading cause of employee injuries in school districts. Below are a few tips to help prevent slip, trip, and fall injuries.
Enforce good housekeeping procedures:
During wet or wintery months, your school entryways must have carpets that extend at least six feet inside entrances. This simple measure will keep moisture from shoes to one manageable area and minimize the slip and fall risk throughout hallways and classrooms. Establishing a schedule to regularly maintain outdoor walkways, sidewalks, and doorways is one way to reduce slip and fall risk. Coordinating regular intervals for shoveling and salting is an easy method to prevent slips and falls. Inspecting your outdoor school property regularly for potential hazards is essential. For example, take a few minutes to identify pavement cracks or heaving. If you cannot repair them immediately, spray paint these hazards a bright color to visually focus the eyes and ensure safety for all school visitors. Whether it is a spill in the art room or a mess in the cafeteria, ensure your custodial staff is prepared to attend to these hazards by:
Execute indoor safety inspections regularly. Educate all staff members on what to look for and solutions to help them prevent accidents. Staff members should identify and bundle any extension cords out of traffic areas and look for places where moisture can accumulate (classroom sinks and hallway fountains). Classroom storage is essential because improper storage methods can lead to a fall injury. Please encourage your students and staff to wear sensible, weather-safe shoes into the building when weather conditions permit and to change their shoes once they are safely indoors. Consider offering your staff members a shoe storage bag.
Adherence to routine, standard controls can reduce the potential for slip, trip, and fall injuries in school buildings. The Comp Alliance encourages all our school members to maintain safe facilities throughout the 2022-23 school year.
Safety Tip #4: Bloodborne Pathogen Exposures for Teachers and Custodians
Bloodborne pathogens are micro-organisms in human blood that can cause disease. Examples of infections caused by bloodborne pathogens include hepatitis B and HIV. These diseases can be passed from one person to another if exposed to a person's infected blood. There are many guidelines on avoiding or decreasing the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens, including annual training. Under OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard, employers with exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) must train employees annually regardless of the employees' prior training or education.
Even though not every school employee is occupationally exposed to bloodborne pathogens, it is still crucial for all employees to understand the dangers of infection and recognize safe practices to minimize their risk.
All teachers and staff must be cautious and protect themselves from a possible bloodborne pathogen transmission. Remember, if a staff member such as a teacher or custodian is possibly exposed to a bloodborne pathogen, you should:
As a school employee, you must react to emergencies with your heart and your head. Know the facts and take precautions to protect yourself from bloodborne pathogen transmission.
Safety Tip #5: Safety Behind the Wheel
School district transportation departments have always had the vital job of safely getting students to and from school. The duties of a school bus driver are daunting. Many school transportation departments are faced with driver shortages requiring their own workarounds. Best practices cultivate a positive safety culture by enforcing safe driving procedures and encouraging positive attitudes.
Research shows that most accidents involving school buses occur in the Fall months. This is because, at the beginning of the school year, newer routes are learned, inexperienced drivers are behind-the-wheel, and students are learning their bus stop locations and procedures. Proper driver orientation should include job expectations, physical and mental fitness, and fatigue prevention. The driver-required Physical Performance Test is one identifier of a driver's physical wellness. Review the importance of each driver's mental state during the first few weeks of returning to school. Observe drivers, including seasoned ones, who experience stress and fatigue during this time. Dealing with new students can cause stress for some drivers too.
Safety behind the wheel for bus drivers includes:
The Comp Alliance looks forward to working with our valued school district members throughout the 2022-23 school year. Have a safe and productive school year!
These tips will be emailed daily and available on our website www.compalliance.org.