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The OMAG Risk Management Services department presents the Risk & Safety Newsletter. Every other month, this publication will bring you relevant and poignant information concerning health and safety in municipal environments.

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Published by Matthew Burleson, 2019-12-12 14:48:54

January 2020 - Risk & Safety Newsletter

The OMAG Risk Management Services department presents the Risk & Safety Newsletter. Every other month, this publication will bring you relevant and poignant information concerning health and safety in municipal environments.

Keywords: OMAG,News,Letter,NewsLetter,safety

May 2019 PRaIgSeK0&8SAFETY NEWS 1
Poison Ivy Prevention


for Using
Lawn Care

03 Upcoming Events

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OMAG Job01 RISK & SAFETY NEWS 7 Myths About Dehydration
Opening - Risk
Management By Kip Prichard
Myth #1: Dehydration is uncomfortable, but not dangerous.
Are you the right person to help
Oklahoma cities and towns deliver Fact: While most of us will only ever experience mild
safe and efficient services to their dehydration symptoms like headache, sluggishness, or
citizens? decreased urine/sweat output, it can become severe and
require medical attention. Serious complications include
If so, the Oklahoma Municipal swelling of the brain, seizures, kidney failure, and even death,
Assurance Group (OMAG) has an according to the Mayo Clinic.
opening for a Risk Management
Specialist that does just that. Myth #2: If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

As a Risk Management Specialist, Fact: It’s not too late. In fact, thirst is the body’s way of
you will work in the field with our telling you to drink water, and you are not at risk of becoming
cities and towns in a variety of ways, dangerously dehydrated the minute you feel parched. When
like providing resources to aid in you get thirsty the deficit of water in your body is trivial
the maintenance of sanitary sewer because your body is a very sensitive gauge. You might
systems and conducting on-site actually have only about a 1% reduction in your overall water.
safety assessments and training. The solution is to drink some fluid, preferably water.

The ideal candidate will be able Myth #3: Everyone needs to drink 8 glasses of water a day.
to develop, design and deliver
training programs through in-person Fact: This general rule of thumb is outdated, influenced today
classroom training and by way of mostly by bottled water companies. So how much do you
technology, whether through self- need to drink? Men roughly need to drink 3 liters (102 oz.)
directed webinars or videos. every day, and women require about 2.2 liters (78 oz.) per day.
However, body weight has a lot to do with it. A good rule of
Experience with sanitary sewer thumb is to divide your body weight by 2 and drink that many
collection and maintenance systems ounces of fluid per day (example: 200 lbs. = 100 ounces).
is a plus for this position, as you
will be using cutting edge acoustic Myth #4: Clear urine is a sure sign of hydration.
technology that allows cities to
determine the stability of their sewer Fact: While keeping an eye on your urine output maybe isn’t
lines as well as create a map of the

Don’t miss the opportunity to join a
solid, stable municipal organization
that enjoys an excellent reputation
with cities and towns in Oklahoma.
For more information go to https://


the most pleasant summer activity, it really can provide a measure of how hydrated (or
dehydrated) you are. But it’s not clear urine that you are looking for, rather, a pale yellow.
(see Dehydration Urine Color Chart)

Myth #5: There is no such thing as drinking too much water.

Fact: Over hydrating can be extremely dangerous – but it is relatively rare. Drinking too
much water leads to hyponatremia, when levels of sodium in the body are so diluted your
cells begin to swell. This usually causes nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion and fatigue,
and can escalate to seizures and coma.

Myth #6: Exercise and hard work need sports drinks.

Fact: If you are working out for less than an hour, water will do just fine. You don’t deplete
electrolyte and glycogen reserves until you’ve been exercising intensely or performing
moderate-hard work in heat and humidity for more than an hour.

Myth #7: Coffee, tea, and soft drinks dehydrate you.

Fact: Only if you overdo it. While caffeine is dehydrating, the water in coffee, tea, and soda
more than makes up for the effects, ultimately leaving you more hydrated than pre-coffee
or pop. Consuming more than 3-5 cups of coffee or 40 ounces of soda could put you at
risk for dehydration. Just remember to limit your caffeine input, drink in moderation and
supplement with good old water. (see 5 Healthy Hydration Tips)

OMAG Risk Management Workshops

By Kip Prichard

In April, OMAG held a series of Risk Management Workshops (formerly Safety Coordinator
Workshops) in Clinton, Sand Springs, Edmond, and Checotah. These workshops were designed
to provide information to OMAG members about risk management and safety issues affecting
municipalities. Topics discussed were: Risk Management Basics, USDOT Drug and Alcohol Testing,
Sewer Maintenance Best Practices, and Building a Foundation for a Sustainable Safety Culture.

Administrators, Mayors, and Safety Coordinators were invited to attend four regional meetings
around the state to learn, discuss, and network together. These workshops were free to OMAG
members. Registration via the OMAG webpage resulted in 97 registered attendees from 62

OMAG plans to continue to provide these workshops in future years at no cost to our members.
The workshops are just another value-added-service OMAG provides our cities and towns to create
safe and efficient municipal operations.

If you have any feedback about the workshops or want information about future OMAG-sponsored
events, contact Kip Prichard, OMAG Risk Management Specialist at [email protected]


Safety Considerations for Using Lawn
Care Equipment

By Kip Prichard

Workers operating riding mowers face lowered position. Also, workers should
serious safety issues. Their employers not wear a seat belt while operating a
need to make sure the equipment in use mower with the ROPS in the lowered
is designed and maintained with safety position. Return the ROPS to the raised
in mind. Employers must make sure that position as soon as the mower is in an
workers are trained to avoid hazardous area where the vertical clearance allows
surroundings. Finally, the employer must its use and reconnect the seat belt.
ensure that mowing operations are • Equip riding mowers with an “operator
performed safely. presence control system”. This system
shuts off the blades when the operator
Employers Must Ensure Equipment Safety dismounts the machine or rises out of the
Use and maintain all available safety • Equip riding mowers with interlocks that
equipment. Pay attention to the following ensure the engine cannot start while
points: the mower is in gear or if the blade
• Some riding mowers are designed is engaged. Inspect mowers to ensure
by their manufacturer to be the “operator presence control system”
equipped with a roll-over protective and all safety features are always in place
system (ROPS). The ROPS can either and operable.
be standard or optional equipment. • Keep riding mowers in good working
• If the mower a worker will be using order, and inspect them periodically for
does not have a ROPS, look for insecurely or incorrectly attached ROPS
unused bolt holes or brackets near and seat belts.
the seat or frame to see if the • Mower operators should use a standard
mower has the capacity to be checklist to do a general inspection of the
equipped with a ROPS. Do not equipment before use. For example, the
operate any mower that was checklist should include checking tire
intended to be equipped with a pressure and check for missing or
ROPS without the ROPS in place. damaged safety guards.
In many cases, retrofit kits are • Experienced service personnel should
available. Contact the manufacturer inspect mowers for necessary safety
to see if there is a kit for the mower features and overall maintenance at least
you are using. annually. Only qualified personnel should
• Mowers with a ROPS should also be service and repair riding mowers.
equipped with seat belts. Provide
and use approved seat belt While it is essential to have the proper safety
assemblies on all riding lawn equipment in place on riding mowers, you should
mowers on which a ROPS has been think of that as just the beginning of your safety
installed. program.
• Where vertical clearance does
not allow for a ROPS to be in Determining the Safety of the Surroundings
the raised position, the ROPS
may be temporarily placed in the Employers should be familiar with the conditions
of the terrain on which their mowers are being


used. They should ensure their workers take the following precautions:

• Do not operate mowers on slopes that exceed the “angle limits” specified by the
manufacturer. Look for a label on the mower for this information or check the owner’s
• When the manufacturer’s instructions are not available or do not specify the angle
limits for operating on slopes, evaluate the terrain and slope conditions to ensure the
mower is operated in a safe manner. Avoid mowing on slopes that exceed 15 degrees if
there is no other information available.
• Use a slope indicator, aka clinometer or inclinometer, if you need one. These are used to
determine slope angles and can be attached to equipment or used as an application on a
mobile device. There are also printable versions that can be downloaded online.
• Always remove the key when you are leaving a mower unattended, but never leave
mowers unattended on a slope. After turning off the mower, the operator should set the
brake, remove the key, and wait to make sure all moving parts have stopped before
leaving the area. The operator should not assume moving parts will stop.
• Do not operate mowers in areas where the drive wheels are within five feet, as
measured from the outside wheel edge, of unprotected edges of retaining walls,
embankments, levees, ditches, culverts, excavations, or similar locations that present an
overturn or roll-over hazard. Use a string trimmer or push mower in these areas.
• When it is necessary to operate riding mowers near ponds, creeks, lakes, canals, sloughs,
golf course water hazards, or similar bodies of water, evaluate the terrain and any slope
conditions. Establish a safety zone to ensure the mower is operated at a safe distance
from such hazards.

Training Workers

Employers are responsible for providing workers with training before they can operate any
lawn mowing/landscaping machinery. Training ensures each operator is competent to operate


Safety Considerations, cont. from pg. 4

the machinery safely. Training must be provided in a language and vocabulary that workers can
understand. Training should cover topics on the safe operation of specific riding mowers and
other equipment that workers will be using. Never assume a worker knows how to use a piece of
equipment or take their word for it that they know how to use it - train them and make sure they
are competent with operating the equipment.

Training topics include:

• A review of all safety devices to ensure that ROPS, guards, seat belts, and shields are
securely in place and properly used.
• The importance of surveying the terrain and picking up hazards before mowing.
• How to identify obstacles in the mowing path, such as large immovable rocks, man-made
hazards like signs and trash receptacles, tree stumps, etc., and areas where the use of
riding mowers is prohibited.
• Reading and understanding the operations, maintenance, limitations, and warning
sections of the operator’s manual.
• Speed control, steering, and maneuvering such as:

•  Decrease speed when the mower is traveling down slopes or around sharp
corners to prevent tipping

•  Be particularly alert when backing up or while operating in low-light conditions
•  Do not mow from side-to-side when operating mowers on unlevel or sloped

ground. Always mow slopes in the up-and-down direction.
• A review of stability and roll-over hazards associated with operating mowers on
surfaces, terrain, or areas that could pose a risk. Locations that present a roll-over
risk include loading ramps, wet surfaces, slopes, and areas near drop-offs, retaining
walls, embankments, streams, bodies of water, unprotected ditches, culverts, and
• Employees should be trained to:

•  Use all required personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times: hearing and
head protection, safety glasses, work boots, etc. Avoid wearing jewelry and loose-
fitting clothing that could be entangled in moving parts, wear long pants.

•  Never carry passengers. Riding mowers are one-person machines.
•  Always start the mower from the driver’s seat. Never start the machine while

standing beside it. Keep both feet on the machine at all times while it is running.
•  Never place the mower in motion until the operator is ready. Putting the mower in

gear unintentionally could jerk it forward without warning.
•  Never mount or dismount a mower while it is running, as there may be enough

space for the operator’s toes to pass under the housing and be struck by the blade.
Properly shut down the mower before dismounting.
•  Never stop or start a riding mower suddenly when it is going up or down hill. Avoid
all sudden stops, starts, or turns.

The safe operation of a riding mower is similar to the safe operation of a car/truck – drive
defensively and expect the unexpected. Employers should train workers to operate the mower
as if there were no ROPS in place. A protective structure is not unlimited in its ability to protect
the operator, the best safety guard is using your head and making safe decisions.

Retraining and evaluation are necessary to ensure workers maintain their competency to
operate mowers safely. Provide refresher courses to workers when:


•  An operator has been observed operating a mower in an unsafe manner.
•  An operator has suffered and injury or been involved in a near-miss incident.
•  An operator receives a new job assignment that includes operating a mower or

machinery with which the operator is unfamiliar.
•  An operator receives a new job assignment that includes mowing on terrain or surfaces

that present unfamiliar hazards.
As an administrator or supervisor, it is your responsibility to make sure your employees know
the hazards of the job and how to do the job safely. Remember to properly train and evaluate
your workers.

Lawn Mower & Weed Eater Safety

(based on a Loss Control Bulletin from the American National General Insurance Company)

Operating lawn mowers or weed eaters is a necessity for municipalities. At the same time,
they present certain dangers if the operator doesn’t know how to properly operate them or the
proper precautions necessary to protect themselves and the people around their work area.

General Safety Precautions

Prior to operating a mower or weed eater, operators should first read and understand the
operator’s manual. This will give them a basic knowledge of how the tool works and proper
operating instructions. Operators should also take time to consider the appropriate protective
clothing. These items include:

• Ear and eye protection
• Gloves to protect hands
• Thick footwear with good traction (approved work boots is preferred)
• Long pants and long sleeved shirts that are somewhat tight fitting

Prior to starting the machine, make sure other people and animals are a safe distance away.
Next, make sure there are no sticks, stones, wire, or other objects in the lawn that could
become projectiles. Inspect the machine to ensure all of the guards, shields, and belts are in the
proper place and in good working condition. Fuel equipment cautiously, and make sure the fuel
is stored in an appropriate container away from ignition sources. Never attempt to fuel a weed
eater while it is running or still hot (Allow 5 minutes for parts to cool down before refueling.)
Remember, no smoking while fueling. Keep all body parts away from exhaust areas to prevent

If you make any repairs or adjustments, make sure the engine is turned off and pull the
sparkplug before you begin. If anyone else will be operating the equipment, make sure they have
been properly trained and deemed competent to use the machines.

Mower Safety Precautions


Safety Considerations, cont. from pg. 6

There are 4 main types of mower accidents of which operators should be aware: overturns,
propelled objects, contact with rotating blades, and running over a victim with a riding mower. To
help avoid accidents, there are some simple precautions the operator can take.

• Before engaging the blade, make sure you know how to operate all aspects of the
mower. This may include taking a practice run with the blade disengaged first.
• Never allow passengers on a riding mower. This is true even for larger commercial riding
• When possible, move forward, not backward. Many new mowers have a safety device
that disengages the blade when traveling in reverse. If you go backwards pay special
attention to potential hazards such as holes, drop-offs, buildings, and other obstacles in
and around the mowing area.
• Never leave the mower running and unattended.
• Disengage the blade before getting off the machine. Many new models have safety
devices that automatically disengage the blade or shuts off the mower when the
operator gets up from the seat. Do not disengage this safety device.
• Turn the mower off and pull the sparkplug wire prior to repairs or maintenance.
• When mowing on a slope, use caution, slow down, and avoid making sharp turns. It is
best to mow steep slopes up and down rather than across the slope on a riding mower.
Use a push mower across slopes, never up and down. Never mow a slope that is so steep
your tires and feet have no traction. Use a weed eater if it is necessary to mow that area.
• Only operate a riding mower from the driver’s seat. Do not attempt to walk beside or
behind it and push over difficult terrain.

Weed Eater Safety Precautions

• When fueling the weed eater, make sure you have the correct fuel mixture. Most weed
eaters take a mixture of fuel and two-cycle engine oil.
• When you start the weed eater, make sure you have good balance and footing. Hold the
machine with two hands, and make sure you are in an open area away from other people.
• The cutting part of the weed eater should never be raised above waist height.
• The speed of the string should never be faster than what is required to cut vegetation.
• Do not operate a weed eater in the immediate vicinity of others; debris can fly over 30
feet from your location. Give at least 50 feet when people or pets approach your work
area. Stop the machine until they are safely past.
• Keep in mind it is better to weed eat an embankment or slope, rather than trying to mow
• When you have completed weed eating, let the machine idle a few minutes to cool down
before shutting it off.
• Supervisors must make sure operators understand the machines they are using and are
competent in their operation and safety issues.

Spring 2019 Safety Grant Recipients

Congratulations to the following cities and towns who received Safety Equipment Grants from
OMAG for their public works departments:

Atoka, Blackwell, Blanchard, Boise City, Buffalo, Cleveland, Collinsville, El Reno, Erick, Harrah,
Jay, Laverne, McAlester, Newcastle, Okemah, Ponca City, Quinton, Sand Springs, Seiling,
Stratford, Stroud, Webbers Falls, and Yukon.


OMAG will be taking applications for the Fall session for
Public Works Safety Equipment Grants beginning in July.
If your municipality has not yet applied for a grant, go to and click on “free services” then “grants
and scholarships”, and read how to apply.

(left, City of Comanche with their equipment)

Poison Ivy Prevention

By Kip Prichard

Myth: Poison Ivy rash is contagious.

Fact: Rubbing the rash won’t spread poison ivy to other parts of your body or to another
person. You spread the rash only by transferring the urushiol oil from the plant to other body
parts or individuals.

Myth: You can catch poison ivy simply by being near the plant.

Fact: Direct contact is needed to release the urushiol oil. Stay away from wildfires, direct
burning, or anything else that can cause the oil to become airborne such as a lawnmower,
trimmer, etc. There is a danger of inhaling the oil into your lungs, which can result in
catastrophic consequences.

Myth: “Leaves of 3, let them be”

Fact: Poison sumac has 7-13 leaves on a branch, although poison ivy and poison oak do have
3 leaves per cluster.

Myth: Do not worry about dead plants.

Fact: Urushiol oil stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to 5 years.

Myth: Breaking the blisters releases urushiol oil that can then spread.

Fact: Not true. Wounds can become infected and you may make scarring worse. In very
extreme cases, excessive fluid may need to be withdrawn by a doctor.

Myth: I’ve been in poison ivy many times and never broken out. I’m immune.

Fact: Not necessarily true. Upwards of 90% of people are allergic to urushiol oil, it’s a matter
of time and exposure. The more times you are exposed the more likely you will break out with
an allergic rash. For the first time sufferer, it generally takes longer for the rash to show up –
generally 7 to 10 days.

Help to prevent poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac is available. Though there are many
products which claim to work, the following product has proven to work for about 95% of
people who have used it.

cont. on pg. 10



Best practice for preventing Poison Ivy/Sumac: Dawn Dishwashing Soap

Within two hours of working outside around trees and bushes, thoroughly wash exposed body
areas with Dawn dish soap and a wash rag. Wash and rinse thoroughly 3 times. Wash down
tools and equipment with Dawn and water. Wash your clothing immediately and don’t just
throw it in a hamper where it could expose others. Taking time to do these simple tasks will
prevent most poison ivy/sumac rashes and reduce the number of claims pertaining to poison
Ivy exposures for your municipality.

6 Things to Consider Before You Jet a Line
By Kip Prichard

High-pressure water cleaning systems can be a persistent problem.
have become the tool of choice for
maintaining sanitary sewer systems, 2. Shake, Rattle, and Roll
because of their effectiveness in dealing
with grease and sludge, along with their Does your jetter unit have a way to vibrate
ability to partner with pipe inspection the hose while it is in the pipe? The vibration
cameras. However, before you fire up your function is used to break up the surface
jetter and go off to battle underground friction between the hose and the pipe, so
monsters, there are six things to keep in you don’t get the hose stuck. One of the
mind. first things contractors noticed when they
invented jetting some 40 years ago, was
1. What the heck is down there? that when you connect a hydraulic hose and
rear facing nozzle to a pressure washer and
Jetters do a great job on soft stoppages shove it down a pipe, there is a chance of
like grease, sand sludge, and even ice. getting the hose stuck. And anytime that
However, when it comes to roots, they are happens it’s the beginning of a long day,
not the preferred tool for the job. If you’re because you’re going to need to get the
not sure what is happening in the line, you excavator out. That is why every legitimate
can try to send an inspection camera down manufacturer of high-pressure jetters today
to take a look, but if the line is blocked you has a feature that allows you to vibrate the
won’t be able to see much. So how can hose while in use.
you tell what the blockage is?
3. Yes, size matters
First, if the line in question has anything to
do with food service, there is a better than Are you using the correct size of hose for
even chance that grease is the problem. the pipe you are trying to clear? Another
Using your powers of deduction, you can excellent way to get your hose stuck in a
conclude that blockages in lines leading pipe is by using the wrong size hose, which is
from restaurants, multi-family dwellings, surprisingly easy to do. When working with
and any kind of institution involving food high-pressure water, the philosophy is to use
service (schools, nursing homes) are likely the largest hose that will fit into the pipe.
to be made by grease and maybe rags. This is because hoses with a larger inside
The same is true if the pipe in question diameter don’t have as much pressure loss
originates in a factory or industrial facility due to water friction. All things being equal,
that flushes lubricants, solvents, or any the larger the hose, the more pressure at the
type of organic material down the drain. nozzle. The more pressure at the nozzle the
Also depending on where you are, sand easier it is to do the job.

11 RISK & SAFETY NEWS to plug up and trap the hose down in the
pipe. Digging it up is usually the only viable
4. Check your water option. Again, very time consuming.

Since high-pressure water is doing the 6. Don’t freeze up
work down the line, it makes sense that
you have enough of it. If you happen to be Statistically, freezing is the number one
using a large device with a holding tank, way to kill your pump. If you live in a place
such as a trailer jetter, your only challenge with four seasons, you’ll find it surprisingly
is to make sure the tank doesn’t run dry. difficult to keep your pump from freezing
Most of these units have an automatic when you are doing work on a frigid day.
shut-off that keeps this you from making The damage can take place before, during,
this mistake. However, if you are using or after the job, and can affect your hose
a jetter that draws water from a garden as well as your pump. If your unit has an
hose, a little more attention is required. antifreeze tank, please get in the habit of
Most municipal and well water systems using it whenever temperatures are close
in North America deliver approximately to freezing. If your unit does not have this
5-6 gallons a minute in flow, but it feature, introduce antifreeze to keep it
is recommended that you make no from freezing when you are driving to and
assumptions. Get a 2-gallon bucket and from the job. Just disconnect the hose that
measure how much time it takes to fill runs from the output valve to the hose reel
it. If you’re close, don’t take the chance, swivel. Then pour antifreeze into the inlet
because you could accidently starve the as you start the motor on the unit, which
pump of water and cause cavitation. will draw the fluid through the pump. When
Cavitation is the second most popular you notice antifreeze exiting the output
way to kill your pump, so pay attention to valve, turn off the motor. Then, using an air
details. compressor to blow the water out of the
hose (remove the nozzle). Make sure this
5. It don’t mean a thing if you don’t have has been done before you drive to the job,
that swing and again before going back to the shop.
During the job, limit the amount of time the
Keep your hose moving. The preferred units sits without water flowing through
technique for jetting a line is to work the the pump. Turn the unit on frequently,
hose back and forth. Push the hose 2 running water through the bypass system
feet forward, then pull it back a foot, then to keep it warm. If you make it someone’s
push forward 2 feet and back a foot. The job to pay attention to the pump, then
maximum cleaning action comes when you’ll improve the odds of it surviving till
you pull back the hose, not pushing it. spring.
As you pull back, the angle of water flow
exiting the nozzle scours the sides of the You probably noticed that most of the
pipe, magnifying your cleaning efforts. points can be summarized by “paying
If you keep the hose moving, you’ll do a attention to what you are doing” and “do
better job and do it in less time. your homework”. Jetters are fantastic tools
for our industry, able to address most
There is another reason to keep it moving. modern sewer line problems better than
Because of the fluid dynamics of high- other tools at our disposal. However, like
pressure water flow, turbulence can everything else in life, with greater power
cause vortices to form just behind the comes greater responsibility. If you sweat
nozzle when you are doing the job. These the details, a jetter is an incredibly versatile
vortices, if stationary for any length of tool that can transform your sewer
time, can suck sand, loose dirt, grease, maintenance program.
or sludge in behind the nozzle, causing it

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