Your OMAG Municipal Property Protection Plan (MPPP) - Coverage for Outdoor Property

As personnel in municipal offices change, replacing the knowledge and experience of the person that served your municipality can be difficult.  Understanding insurance coverage may not be a priority when so many other things demand your attention as a municipal employee. Please let the following serve to provide a description of the coverage for outdoor property that OMAG provides.  

Outdoor Property is sometimes referred to as property in the open and should be listed on your schedule of covered property described as such. Outdoor property does not provide coverage for buildings and is only for the named structures listed below.  

Outdoor Property means retaining walls not part of a building, lawns (including fairways, greens and tees), trees, shrubs, plants, bridges (excluding vehicular bridges), walks, roadways, patios or other paved surfaces, outdoor lighting fixtures (excluding holiday and seasonal lighting), traffic signaling devices or controls, utility poles (including transformers on the poles but not the transmission lines) or emergency communications radio towers or sirens.

Outdoor property is covered for loss or damage only by the following Covered Causes of Loss: Wind, Fire, Lightning, Explosion, Riot or Civil Commotion, Vandalism or Malicious Mischief, or Aircraft or Vehicles. This coverage also applies to the necessary and reasonable expense incurred by the plan member to remove debris of outdoor property at the plan member’s premises caused by or resulting from a covered cause of loss that occurs during the policy period. Such expenses will be paid only if reported to OMAG in writing within 180 days of the date of direct physical loss or damage. This will not increase the limit of coverage that applies to Outdoor Property. 

It is important to understand each MPPP member is automatically provided $100,000 in coverage for outdoor property, including debris removal aggregate in any one plan year; however, trees, shrubs and plants are subject to a maximum of $5,000 per occurrence. Although this $100,000 in coverage is provided to all MPPP members you are responsible for providing timely and accurate lists of such properties so that any loss incurred over the provided limit is properly covered.  To assure adequate protection in the case of a loss, your property needs to be reviewed annually to ensure it is listed on your schedules at replacement cost value.

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November 2018 Risk & Safety Newsletter

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Workers' Compensation Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Effective September 1, 2018, the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) has mandated that all Workers’ Compensation claims data be sent to the WCC electronically.  This brings Oklahoma Workers’ Comp into the “paperless” arena so many other states or lines of insurance have already mandated.  The EDI mandate is that all employers, insurance carriers, and third-party claims companies file claims and data through an interchange, rather than using paper forms.   For employers, this means that you will no longer be required to submit a copy of the Form 2 (First report of Injury) to the WCC after an injury resulting in Lost Time.   However, it is imperative to note that these First Report forms must be sent to OMAG via its claims company, CBR, to initiate a claim.  The submission email address is still NewClaim@cbremail.com.   CBR will then send this First Report information to the WCC electronically.

 Going paperless should save the WCC manpower and costs, as they no longer must enter the claims by hand, and there will be a much greater compliance rate of submission.  However, there are several areas of concern for OMAG and its member municipalities:

 Fines for non-compliance or poor compliance are expected for employers, carriers, or claims companies.   First Reports of Injury are due to the WCC within 10 days of the date the employer was notified of the injury.  The WCC can levy fines for employers who do not send this information timely.   It is imperative that municipalities send the claim to CBR as soon as possible (preferably within 24 hours, but no later than 5 days).  CBR will send the claim to the WCC within 24-72 hours of receipt, provided all mandatory information is included in the report.

 A report card may be published by the WCC identifying employers, carriers and claims companies who do not send data in timely, or do not pay benefits timely.  A claim must be accepted, denied, or an extension requested within 15 days of employer notice.  Temporary Total Disability or Wages Paid in Lieu of must be started within 15 days of the first day of Lost Time. 

 The WCC is basically going to monitor the timely filing of claims and related information, and the prompt and accurate payment of benefits.  These were never monitored by the WCC in the past.

 OMAG’s claims company, CBR, is on top of these requirements and has been testing with their vendor and with the WCC for some time now.   CBR was fully compliant with the EDI mandate on September 1. 

 Please contact OMAG or CBR for more information.  CBR inquiries can be sent to info@cbremail.com.

 

 

 

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Best Practices for Workers' Compensation Injuries

A municipality’s costs for workers’ compensation can be controlled and reduced by following a few Best Practices.

 ·         Risk Management-consistent training is needed.  Most people have good and bad work habits and to prevent workplace accidents, the employer needs to focus on training away a person’s bad habits.  Success requires diligence and regular training by the employer.

 ·         Timely report the injury- your OMAG adjuster is standing by to talk to the injured worker and help but they cannot get started until the claim is reported.  The Municipality’s goal should be to report the claim to OMAG within 24 hours of the incident.  Statistics prove that a delay in reporting a claim will increase the ultimate cost of resolving the claim.

 ·         Preferred physician- Select a medical facility that will provide immediate medical treatment for any injured worker.   If an occupational clinic in your area is not an option, employers often choose an AM/PM Urgent Care facility to readily provide treatment.  The Emergency Room may be the best option in a rural area of the state, however the cost at the ER is 500% + more expensive than an Urgent Care.

 ·         Return-to-work- when the doctor takes an injured worker off work while they heal, they may offer the employer the opportunity to return early if the employer can accommodate “temporary” work restrictions.  These may be as simple as restricting the amount of weight they can lift, or their ability to stand, crawl or bend.  Major benefits from accommodating work restrictions are:

o   Employee remains engaged and productive

o   The employer can monitor the healing progress and encourage the worker to attend doctor visits, physical therapy or other treatment

o   A smooth transition is in place for the return to 100% fulltime duties

o   Employee loses no pay so there is no financial hardship

o   Litigation is reduced since the injured worker maintains their job, pay and receives great medical care

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Office Safety Tips

In municipal government, labor-intensive jobs in public works, law enforcement and emergency services, are the source of most work-related injuries. But, are you aware that employees who work in office settings are also at risk of suffering disabling injuries? The injuries may look different, but they still cause pain, cause expensive workers’ compensation claims, and reduce overall productivity. Office workers deserve a spotlight on how to stay safe and healthy at work.

Employees may feel safe in the comfort of their office, but that’s where the dangers are. Poor ergonomics and organization can lead to three common office injuries – repetitive use injuries, computer eye strains, and falls. Here’s what you need to know about these injuries and how you can avoid them to make the office a safe workspace.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

A Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) or overuse injury is caused by repeating the same motion for extended periods and RSIs affect millions of workers every year. In an office setting, extended periods of sitting and computer work without proper ergonomics can cause strain on the back and upper extremities, wrists, elbows, and hands.

Employees who perform repetitive activities are at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, a common RSI. Carpal tunnel syndrome causes swelling in the wrist that puts pressure on the nerves and causes pain, tingling, and numbness. Also, prolonged sitting can lead to different posture problems, like strained neck and shoulders or lower back pain. While these may seem like small injuries, they can cause a lot of pain and make work difficult. As they get more severe over time, these RSIs can potentially require long-term physical therapy and rehabilitation.

The best way to avoid these injuries is by preventing them with ergonomic workstations. Ergonomics is the study of how people interact with their physical environment. You can maximize productivity and minimize injuries by building the physical environment around a person, or fitting a workspace to an employee, rather than forcing an assorted-sized workforce to all fit within the same dimensions.

For example, consider a 5-foot-tall employee using the same chair settings as a 6-foot-tall employee. The shorter worker could have tension in their back and thighs if their feet can’t rest comfortably on the ground, and the taller worker could strain their neck having to look down at the computer monitor. Different workers have different needs.

To get started on improving ergonomics, follow these guidelines:

·         Provide adjustable work stations that allow employees to alternate between seated and standing positions

·         When working at a computer, keep wrists in a neutral position, elbows by your side, shoulders back, and sit up straight

·         Keep regularly used items, like the telephone and calculator, within easy reach

·         Adjust your chair so your feet rest firmly on the floor with your knees bent at 90-degree angles

·         Position your computer monitor directly in front of your head, just at or slightly below eye level

Along with these ergonomic guidelines, encourage employees to take frequent breaks to stand, walk around, and stretch their hands and wrists.

Computer Eye Strain

With the average U.S. worker spending seven hours a day on the computer, not to mention personal time staring at phone screens, eye strain has become a common injury for office workers. A survey from the American Optometric Association reported that 58% of adults have experienced eye strain or vision problems as a direct result of too much screen time.

Symptoms of computer eye strain include headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, eye twitching, or even physical fatigue and increased number of work errors. Most office employees rely on computers to complete their work, so you can’t get rid of computers to fix this problem. However, there are several adjustments workers can make to reduce eye strain and improve productivity.

These adjustments include:

·         Cover windows or close the blinds to reduce excessively bright light coming from outside

·         Use fewer light bulbs or lower intensity bulbs to reduce excessive indoor brightness

·         Position computers to the side of a window rather than in front of or behind it

·         Adjust the brightness of the computer display to match the brightness of the surrounding workstation

·         Alter text size and contrast for comfort

Employees should also take breaks away from the computer to avoid eye fatigue. One common method encouraged by eye doctors is the “20-20-20 rule.” Every 20 minutes, workers should turn their gaze to an object that’s 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This rule relaxes the muscles inside the eye. A recent study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that these breaks not only significantly reduced eye strain, they also increased work productivity.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

According to the National Safety Council, slips and trips account for the greatest number of work-related injuries in offices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that office workers are two to 2.5 times more likely to suffer a disabling injury from a fall than non-office workers.

While falls are usually just accidents, they are preventable. Clear work areas, proper lighting, and promptly cleaned up messes can help prevent most workplace falls. The CDC states that the most common causes of office falls are:

·         Tripping over open drawers, electrical cords, loose carpeting, or objects in walkways

·         Reaching for something while seated in an unstable chair

·         Standing on a chair instead of a ladder

·         Slipping on wet floors

·         Not being able to see due to inadequate lighting

Employers can reduce the $70 billion spent annually on workers’ compensation and medical costs for falls by encouraging employees to follow some simple tips:

·         Don’t place objects in common walking paths

·         Close file and desk drawers when you finish using them

·         Get up to reach something rather than trying to reach from your chair

·         Secure electrical cords and loose carpeting

·         Clean up spills on the floor (even if you didn’t make the mess), or place caution signs over spills until they’re cleaned up

·         Use stepladders instead of chairs to reach items overhead

Although work-related injuries in an office setting can be severe, they’re also mostly preventable. So, start making your office a safer place by following these simple tips and educating your workforce.

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Preventing Falls

Falls continue to be the second leading cause of death to workers. To help reduce fall-related injuries and fatalities, OSHA advises employers to “plan, provide, and train” their workers who work at heights of 6 feet or more (bucket truck, water tower, utility vault, etc.)  These situations require a plan for safety and emergency retrieval and the proper equipment for performing work tasks at height. Workers need to be properly trained to understand the hazards, and how to control them through administrative controls, engineering controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Plan – When planning a job that requires working from height, the employer is responsible for ensuring the work can and will be done safely. When planning for the budget, employers must include the cost involved for purchasing the proper safety equipment to perform elevated tasks. They must plan to have the necessary equipment available and used at the job site.

Provide – Employers must provide fall protection and related equipment (ladders, scaffolds, safety harnesses, etc.) for employees working 6 feet or more above a lower level. If workers use personal fall arrest systems for work in trees or bucket trucks, a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to an anchor must be provided. Each system must properly fit the worker and be inspected regularly. Purchase equipment from reputable vendors that provide hands-on training on their equipment.

Train – Every worker must be trained on the proper set up and safe use of their fall protection system and they must be deemed proficient by their supervisor before doing hazardous work at height.

When working with ladders, workers should know to maintain 3 points of contact (2 hands and 1 foot or 2 feet and 1 hand) on the ladder at all times. Keep ladders on a level surface, secure ladders by locking their metal braces, and avoid over-reaching when performing tasks outside the ladder edges. As for working on scaffolds, a worker must know how to safely set up the scaffold including how to set up guardrails and ensure stable footing can be maintained. The scaffold must be set up level. The scaffolding should be inspected by a supervisor before workers are allowed to use it.

For off or below ground work, the workers need to make sure their harness fits properly, straps are sufficiently backed up, and they are securely tied off or belayed at all times. Workers should be able to check that their anchor points are secure and make sure any openings are protected or covered.

Working at heights is a very serious situation - don’t under estimate the danger. Falls from heights are low in frequency but high in severity. This kind of accident could be catastrophic for a worker and your municipality.

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September 2018 Risk & Safety Newsletter

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OMAG Press Release

OMAG Press Release

OMAG is pleased to announce that Vickie Patterson, the City Manager of the City of Broken Bow, has been appointed to the OMAG Board of Trustees.

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Tips on Office Worker Safety

In municipal government, labor-intensive jobs in public works, law enforcement and emergency services, are the source of most work-related injuries. But, are you aware that employees who work in office settings are also at risk of suffering disabling injuries? The injuries may look different, but they still cause pain, cause expensive workers’ compensation claims, and reduce overall productivity. Office workers deserve a spotlight on how to stay safe and healthy at work.

Employees may feel safe in the comfort of their office, but that’s where the dangers are. Poor ergonomics and organization can lead to three common office injuries – repetitive use injuries, computer eye strains, and falls. Here’s what you need to know about these injuries and how you can avoid them to make the office a safe workspace.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

A Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) or overuse injury is caused by repeating the same motion for extended periods and RSIs affect millions of workers every year. In an office setting, extended periods of sitting and computer work without proper ergonomics can cause strain on the back and upper extremities, wrists, elbows, and hands.

Employees who perform repetitive activities are at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, a common RSI. Carpal tunnel syndrome causes swelling in the wrist that puts pressure on the nerves and causes pain, tingling, and numbness. Also, prolonged sitting can lead to different posture problems, like strained neck and shoulders or lower back pain. While these may seem like small injuries, they can cause a lot of pain and make work difficult. As they get more severe over time, these RSIs can potentially require long-term physical therapy and rehabilitation.

The best way to avoid these injuries is by preventing them with ergonomic workstations. Ergonomics is the study of how people interact with their physical environment. You can maximize productivity and minimize injuries by building the physical environment around a person, or fitting a workspace to an employee, rather than forcing an assorted-sized workforce to all fit within the same dimensions.

For example, consider a 5-foot-tall employee using the same chair settings as a 6-foot-tall employee. The shorter worker could have tension in their back and thighs if their feet can’t rest comfortably on the ground, and the taller worker could strain their neck having to look down at the computer monitor. Different workers have different needs.

To get started on improving ergonomics, follow these guidelines:

·         Provide adjustable work stations that allow employees to alternate between seated and standing positions

·         When working at a computer, keep wrists in a neutral position, elbows by your side, shoulders back, and sit up straight

·         Keep regularly used items, like the telephone and calculator, within easy reach

·         Adjust your chair so your feet rest firmly on the floor with your knees bent at 90-degree angles

·         Position your computer monitor directly in front of your head, just at or slightly below eye level

Along with these ergonomic guidelines, encourage employees to take frequent breaks to stand, walk around, and stretch their hands and wrists.

Computer Eye Strain

With the average U.S. worker spending seven hours a day on the computer, not to mention personal time staring at phone screens, eye strain has become a common injury for office workers. A survey from the American Optometric Association reported that 58% of adults have experienced eye strain or vision problems as a direct result of too much screen time.

Symptoms of computer eye strain include headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, eye twitching, or even physical fatigue and increased number of work errors. Most office employees rely on computers to complete their work, so you can’t get rid of computers to fix this problem. However, there are several adjustments workers can make to reduce eye strain and improve productivity.

These adjustments include:

·         Cover windows or close the blinds to reduce excessively bright light coming from outside

·         Use fewer light bulbs or lower intensity bulbs to reduce excessive indoor brightness

·         Position computers to the side of a window rather than in front of or behind it

·         Adjust the brightness of the computer display to match the brightness of the surrounding workstation

·         Alter text size and contrast for comfort

Employees should also take breaks away from the computer to avoid eye fatigue. One common method encouraged by eye doctors is the “20-20-20 rule.” Every 20 minutes, workers should turn their gaze to an object that’s 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This rule relaxes the muscles inside the eye. A recent study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that these breaks not only significantly reduced eye strain, they also increased work productivity.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

According to the National Safety Council, slips and trips account for the greatest number of work-related injuries in offices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that office workers are two to 2.5 times more likely to suffer a disabling injury from a fall than non-office workers.

While falls are usually just accidents, they are preventable. Clear work areas, proper lighting, and promptly cleaned up messes can help prevent most workplace falls. The CDC states that the most common causes of office falls are:

·         Tripping over open drawers, electrical cords, loose carpeting, or objects in walkways

·         Reaching for something while seated in an unstable chair

·         Standing on a chair instead of a ladder

·         Slipping on wet floors

·         Not being able to see due to inadequate lighting

Employers can reduce the $70 billion spent annually on workers’ compensation and medical costs for falls by encouraging employees to follow some simple tips:

·         Don’t place objects in common walking paths

·         Close file and desk drawers when you finish using them

·         Get up to reach something rather than trying to reach from your chair

·         Secure electrical cords and loose carpeting

·         Clean up spills on the floor (even if you didn’t make the mess), or place caution signs over spills until they’re cleaned up

·         Use stepladders instead of chairs to reach items overhead

Although work-related injuries in an office setting can be severe, they’re also mostly preventable. So, start making your office a safer place by following these simple tips and educating your workforce.

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Preventing Worker Deaths from Trench Collapse

Trench collapse accidents are rarely survivable. OSHA statistics reveal fatalities caused by trench wall collapse are increasing. This trend is preventable by complying with OSHA standards that every municipal utility service employee should know. Municipal employees who dig or excavate trenches are at risk of death if they enter an unprotected trench and the walls collapse.  

Hazards associated with trench work and excavation are well defined in the OSHA standard for excavation and trenching found in 29 CFR 1926.651 and 1926.652 Subpart P. It describes the precautions needed for safe excavation work. There is no reliable warning when a trench fails. The walls can collapse suddenly, and workers will not have time to move out of the way. Even though small amounts of dirt may not seem dangerous, a single cubic yard of dirt can weigh more than 3,000 pounds, which can fatally crush or suffocate workers. Even small, solid pieces of dirt can cause serious injuries.

Most incidents involve excavation work on water, sewer, pipeline, communications and power-line maintenance, repair, and/or construction. OSHA data shows that most fatalities in trenches occur at depths of 10 feet or less. Lack of a protective system was the leading cause of trench-related fatalities.

OSHA requires all trenches 5 feet deep or more use one of the following protective systems:

  • Sloping the trench walls
  • Benching the trench walls
  • Shoring the trench with pneumatic or hydraulic jacks and trench plates
  • Shielding the trench using a trench box

Workers should never enter a trench that does not have a protective system in place designed and installed by a competent person. Factors such as type of soil, water content of soil, environmental conditions, proximity to previously backfilled excavations, weight of heavy equipment or tools, and vibrations from machines and motor vehicles can greatly affect soil. Not all protective systems can be used in all types of soil. A competent person is one who understands OSHA regulations, can recognize hazards, and is authorized to correct them.

Employer Responsibilities

Call 811 before digging so that utility lines can be marked.  Train and designate a competent person to ensure safety measures are in place. What is a competent person? A competent person is an individual who can identify existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to workers, and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

Competent Person Responsibilities

  • Classifying soil
  •  Inspecting protective systems
  •  Designing structural ramps
  •  Monitoring water removal equipment
  • Conducting site inspections
  • Planning the job layout to identify safe locations for spoil piles and heavy equipment routes
  • Determining what type of protective system will be used for the job and scheduling the steps needed to have the system complete and in place before workers enter
  • Ensuring that employees are trained to spot signs of imminent trench collapse, including tension cracks, bulging, and toppling
  • Developing a trench emergency action plan to describe steps to be taken and to provide contact information in case of an emergency
  • Ensuring that ladders and other means of exit from the trench are repositioned so that ladders are never more than 25 feet away from any worker in the trench
  • Must remove workers from the excavation upon any evidence of a situation that could cause a cave-in, such as accumulation of water in the trench or protective system problems
  • Take actions for other types of hazards such as falling loads or hazardous atmospheres
  • Monitor other types of trench–related hazards that can occur such as falls from the edge, rigging hazards, or toxic and combustible gases
  • Implement and enforce procedures to ensure that work in an unprotected trench is not allowed

Workers

  • Do not enter an unprotected trench, even for a short task
  • Inspect the protected trench before entering
  • Exit the trench and call the competent person if you see any evidence of problems with a protective system
  • Do not assume there will be a warning sign before a cave in or that you will have time to move out of the way
  • Manually uncover utilities to determine the exact location and depth before mechanical digging with a backhoe or trackhoe
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