Municipalities Should Prepare for Spring-Related Work Exposures

Spring arrives this Friday and for municipalities, this means transitioning from winter-related job activities of plowing snow to preparing parks and planning construction projects. To assist municipalities in this effort, we’ve compiled helpful safety reminders on a variety of topics related to spring work exposures, as well as common sources of year-round injuries to fire and police personnel.

Train Employees in Work Zone & Flagger Safety

With street and road construction season only a few weeks away, it’s important to keep employees safe and properly trained in the Federal Highway and Wisconsin standard practices for effective traffic controls in work zones. The Transportation Information Center (TIC) operated by the University of Wisconsin, is one source for training and is offering courses throughout the state in April and May. Representatives from smaller communities are particularly encouraged to attend as there can often be a false sense of security working on city streets and roads with lower volumes of traffic.


Take Steps to Reduce Injuries from High-Force Job Tasks

Every year, construction crew employees sustain injuries while performing work with fire hydrants, catch basins and manholes. Helpful in eliminating these injuries is to:

  • Reduce the forceful exertions and awkward body postures involved in these tasks.
  • Reduce the use of hand tools.
  • Utilize power equipment with chains/slings whenever possible.

The links below are to be used only as a reference for the items listed and not as an endorsement by United Heartland of their quality.

Hydrant Tools

Manhole Tools and Resources

Help Prevent Fatalities from Falls

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation remain a leading cause of death in the construction industry. Municipal workers may find themselves performing work from aerial bucket trucks, ladders, scaffolding or rooftops and are subject to these risks. All employers are encouraged to participate in the National Stand-Down being promoted by OSHA.  Their website offers a variety of helpful suggestions and resources including fall protection training, toolbox talks and topics for discussing job-specific hazards.


Serious Exposures Present with Tree Trimming

Adverse weather in the spring can result in heavy damage to trees, which must then be cleared from roadways and other areas. The job of tree trimming and removal brings many exposures that employees must be prepared to deal with. The most hazardous aspects of the job include:

  • Operating equipment, such as chain saws and wood chippers.
  • Working at high levels in aerial trucks or ladders.
  • Potential contact with high voltage electricity.
  • Being struck by falling timber.

Protect workers by providing them with proper training in equipment and work practices. It’s also a good reminder to have adequate first aid supplies on hand.

Forest Industry Safety & Training Alliance Inc.

OSHA: Working Safety with Chain Saws

OSHA: Tree Trimming

OSHA: Hazards of Wood Chippers

How Firefighters, EMS Workers Can Reduce Injuries While Moving Patients

The National Fire Protection Agency cites overexertion as the leading cause of injury amongst firefighters. Many of these overexertion injuries involve patient handling, as this physically demanding job task strains the back and upper extremities. However, with the development of emergency-powered cots, injury costs caused by patient handling can be reduced. The first three links below provide resources on the latest innovations from powered cot and lift manufacturers; the third provides ergonomic tips for EMS workers; the last link is to a rescue lift device.

Weighing Police Safety Gear and Risks for Back Strain

Some police departments have begun using patrol vests in place of duty belts typically worn by police officers. During the last several decades, several pieces of equipment, including ammunition, handcuffs, flashlight, stun gun, pepper spray, baton and keys, have been added to the traditional duty belt, which can now weigh between 10 to 20 pounds. Load-bearing vests are an alternative that departments are currently exploring.

If you know of others at your organization who would be interested in receiving safety updates like this, encourage them to subscribe to our monthly Risk Connection e-blasts here. As always, please contact your loss control representative with questions, call us at 1-800-258-2667.