Safety Focus on Municipalities

Because United Heartland provides third-party administration of claims and other services to a variety of municipalities, this edition of Risk Connection focuses on safety in three main areas:

  • Department of Public Works (DPW)
  • Fire departments
  • Police departments

Department of Public Works: The benefits of stretching

You will never see a professional athlete begin any game or practice without warming up and stretching. DPW employees, who should consider themselves “working athletes,” should do the same. Why? Because any job function that requires physical activity uses several muscle groups in a taxing way. Preparing for and recovering from this work is key.

A great way to start is to stretch, flex and warm up before performing these jobs. Do simple stretches for several minutes before physical work, which can be beneficial in reducing muscle-related discomfort and musculoskeletal disorders.

Stretching can help prepare and condition the body for work and also provides a mental break from the routine, which can result in reduced stress. For examples of stretches specific to DPW workers, click here.

Fire Departments: Reducing back injuries related to patient handling

The job requirements of fire and EMS positions are physically demanding. If you hurt yourself, you limit your ability to serve the community and individual patients. One major injury can change your career and your personal life.

In this industry, back and upper extremity injuries are the leading cause of workplace accidents. Many of these are directly related to handling patients at an emergency scene or simply transporting from one location to another. One way to reduce this injury exposure is to practice safe patient handling. Equipment manufacturers have made strides in cot safety, stair chair enhancements, lighter long boards and scoop boards. When purchasing new equipment, consider the many options available and the benefits they can provide by decreasing the physical workload.

Immediate action can be taken to focus on injury prevention, including:

  • Create a list of patient handling tasks that are high risk for injury.
  • Break down each task step-by-step.
  • Lay out how the process is currently done and then look for areas for improvement. What are best practices?
  • Decide if patient handling equipment could provide assistance in this task.
  • Consider ergonomics while performing this task. Could body mechanics be improved?
  • If any areas for improvement are noted, use the information to train the team. Frequent trainings throughout the year can be more beneficial than annual refresher courses.

Using the reference information below can help you familiarize yourself with equipment that is available, as well as various resources available to reduce injuries related to patient handling and transfers.

Ergonomics for EMS – Solution Ideas for SPH

SPH & Training Program Information

SPH Equipment Vendors

For a flyer containing this information, click here.

Police Departments: Training available through your local technical college

According to a recent article in The Police Chief, from 2000 to 2009, an average of 141 police officers died each year in the United States from injuries sustained in the line of duty. Some of the primary hazards and causes of injury that officers face each day include assaults, vehicle crashes, sprains and slips and falls.

Police work can be dangerous, physically demanding and stressful, resulting in one of the highest rates of on-the-job injuries and fatalities. This can happen during conflicts with criminals, during motor vehicle pursuits, when exposed to communicable diseases or through many other high-risk situations. You can minimize these risks by following proper procedures and undertaking training, which can be found at area technical schools.

There are 16 technical schools located throughout Wisconsin that offer a variety of in-service courses, as well as police academies to help keep officers safe in the line of duty. Technical college law enforcement programs provide students with a controlled environment to train and learn along with the experience of knowledgeable instructors. These programs often provide in-depth education and additional learning on broad topics and specific areas of interest.

In addition to law enforcement academies, tech colleges also provide a variety of in-service training topics, such as defense, arrest tactics and emergency vehicle operation. For more information about the courses offered by your local technical college, follow the links listed below.

Wisconsin Technical Colleges

WILEnet (upcoming police training courses)


For more information, contact your United Heartland Loss Control representative today!