Safety

Safety Considerations When Using Lawn-Care Equipment

Workers operating riding mowers face serious safety issues. Their employers need to make sure the equipment in use is designed and maintained with safety in mind. Employers must make sure that workers are trained to avoid hazardous surroundings. Finally, the employer must ensure that mowing operations are performed safely.

Employers Must Ensure Equipment Safety

Use and maintain all available safety equipment. Pay attention to the following points:

  • Some riding mowers are designed by their manufacturer to be equipped with a roll-over protective system (ROPS). The ROPS can either be standard or optional equipment.

  • If the mower a worker will be using does not have a ROPS, look for unused bolt holes or brackets near the seat or frame to see if the mower has the capacity to be equipped with a ROPS. Do not operate any mower that was intended to be equipped with a ROPS without the ROPS in place. In many cases, retrofit kits are available. Contact the manufacturer to see if there is a kit for the mower you are using.

  • Mowers with a ROPS should also be equipped with seat belts. Provide and use approved seat belt assemblies on all riding lawn mowers on which a ROPS has been installed.

  • Where vertical clearance does not allow for a ROPS to be in the raised position, the ROPS may be temporarily placed in the lowered position. Also, workers should not wear a seat belt while operating a mower with the ROPS in the lowered position. Return the ROPS to the raised position as soon as the mower is in an area where the vertical clearance allows its use and reconnect the seat belt.

  • Equip riding mowers with an “operator presence control system”. This system shuts off the blades when the operator dismounts the machine or rises out of the seat.

  • Equip riding mowers with interlocks that ensure the engine cannot start while the mower is in gear or if the blade is engaged. Inspect mowers to ensure the “operator presence control system” and all safety features are always in place and operable.

  • Keep riding mowers in good working order, and inspect them periodically for insecurely or incorrectly attached ROPS and seat belts.

  • Mower operators should use a standard checklist to do a general inspection of the equipment before use. For example, the checklist should include checking tire pressure and check for missing or damaged safety guards.

  • Experienced service personnel should inspect mowers for necessary safety features and overall maintenance at least annually. Only qualified personnel should service and repair riding mowers.

While it is essential to have the proper safety equipment in place on riding mowers, you should think of that as just the beginning of your safety program. 

Determining the Safety of the Surroundings 

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 manual.

  • 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 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 worker 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 excavations.

  • 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 burns. 

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 

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 mowers/tractors.

  • 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 it.

  • 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.

Print Friendly and PDF

Medical Marijuana Unity Bill

House Bill 2612, the “Unity Bill,” passed the House and the Senate and was signed by Governor Stitt into law on March 14, 2019.  The effective date of the new law is August 29, 2019.  This bill clarifies and fills in gaps in the regulatory framework for medical marijuana in the State of Oklahoma.  A number of questions are addressed by the bill, however, there is still discussion at the State Capitol regarding further refinement of the regulatory scheme.  Additional modifications may be made before the legislative session ends in May.  We will update our information as needed after the legislature adjourns.


Governmental officials have been working diligently to solidify the regulatory framework within which medical marijuana allowed by the voters of the state with passage of State Question 788 (SQ788) last summer.  In August 2018, OMAG provided information on its website based on the regulatory efforts of the State Department of Health and others.  These attempts, through regulation, to add details to SQ788 were met with much opposition resulting in some of the earlier efforts being withdrawn.  Since that time, a working group of state legislators and others began meeting last fall to discuss the parameters of legislation that could be sponsored and supported to fill in some of the unknown gaps in the regulatory framework for medical marijuana in the State of Oklahoma. 

This legislative session House Bill 2612, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, more commonly called the “Unity Bill” was introduced in early February.  The measure passed the House by the end of the month and was introduced in the Senate in early March.  The measure passed the Senate on March 11th and was sent to Governor on March 12th.  Governor Stitt signed the measure into law on March 14, 2019.  The effective date of the new laws is August 29, 2019. 

Provisions contained in HB2612 include the following: 

  • State issued patient or caregiver license only.  Municipal and county governing bodies may not enact medical marijuana guidelines which restrict or interfere with the rights of a licensed patient or caregiver to possess, purchase, cultivate or transport medical marijuana within the legal limits set forth in this act or Section 420 et seq. of Title 63 of the Oklahoma Statutes or require patients or caregivers to obtain permits or licenses in addition to the state-required licenses provided herein.

  • Rights to firearms protected. A medical marijuana patient or caregiver licensee shall not be denied the right to own, purchase or possess a firearm, ammunition, or firearm accessories based solely on his or her status as a medical marijuana patient or caregiver licensee. No state or local agency, municipal or county governing authority shall restrict, revoke, suspend or otherwise infringe upon the right of a person to own, purchase or possess a firearm, ammunition, or firearm accessories or any related firearms license or certification based solely on their status as a medical marijuana patient or caregiver licensee.

  • Patient or caregiver license holder not subject to prosecution. A medical marijuana patient or caregiver in actual possession of a medical marijuana license shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner or denied any right, privilege or public assistance, under state law or municipal or county ordinance or resolution including without limitation a civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with this act.

  • Reimbursement as medical expense not required.  A government medical assistance program shall not be required to reimburse a person for costs associated with the medical use of marijuana unless federal law requires reimbursement.

  • Statute does not require an employer, a government medical assistance program, private health insurer, worker's compensation carrier or self-insured employer providing worker's compensation benefits to reimburse a person for costs associated with the use of medical marijuana; or

  • Medical marijuana licensee job protections.  No employer may refuse to hire, discipline, discharge or otherwise penalize an applicant or employee solely on the basis of such applicant's or employee's status as a medical marijuana licensee; and

  • No employer may refuse to hire, discipline, discharge or otherwise penalize an applicant or employee solely on the basis of a positive test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless: a. the applicant or employee is not in possession of a valid medical marijuana license, b. the licensee possesses, consumes or is under the influence of medical marijuana or medical marijuana product while at the place of employment or during the fulfillment of employment obligations, or c. the position is one involving safety-sensitive job duties.

  • Employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use of medical marijuana on the property or premises of any place of employment or during hours of employment;

  • Statute does not prevent an employer from having written policies regarding drug testing and impairment in accordance with the Oklahoma Standards for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act, Section 551 et seq. of Title 40 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

  • An applicant or employee aggrieved by a willful violation of this section shall have, as his or her exclusive remedy, the same remedies as provided for in the Oklahoma Standards for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act set forth in Section 563 of Title 40 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

  • "Safety-sensitive" means any job that includes tasks or duties that the employer reasonably believes could affect the safety and health of the employee performing the task or others including, but not limited to, any of the following:

  1. the handling, packaging, processing, storage, disposal or transport of hazardous materials,

  2. the operation of a motor vehicle, other vehicle, equipment, machinery or power tools,

  3. repairing, maintaining or monitoring the performance or operation of any equipment, machinery or manufacturing process, the malfunction or disruption of which could result in injury or property damage,

  4. performing firefighting duties,

  5. the operation, maintenance or oversight of critical services and infrastructure including, but not limited to, electric, gas, and water utilities, power generation or distribution,

  6. the extraction, compression, processing, manufacturing, handling, packaging, storage, disposal, treatment or transport of potentially volatile, flammable, combustible materials, elements, chemicals or any other highly regulated component,

  7. dispensing pharmaceuticals,

  8. carrying a firearm, or

  9. direct patient care or direct child care; and

  • A "positive test for marijuana components or metabolites" means a result that is at or above the cutoff concentration level established by the United States Department of Transportation or Oklahoma law regarding being under the influence, whichever is lower.

  • Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces. All smokable, vaporized, vapable and e-cigarette medical marijuana product inhaled through vaporization or smoked by a medical marijuana licensee are subject to the same restrictions for tobacco under Section 1-1521 of Title 63 of the Oklahoma Statutes, commonly referred to as the "Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act".

  • Municipal regulatory authority recognized. All relevant local licenses and permits must be issued by the municipality, including but not limited to, an occupancy permit or certificate of compliance.

    • In the event that an applicant has not received the necessary permits, certificates or licenses from a municipality, but the applicant has fulfilled all other obligations required by this act, the Authority shall grant a conditional license. A conditional license shall remain valid for a period of one (1) year or until the applicant obtains the necessary local permits, certificates or licenses. An applicant shall not transfer any medical marijuana, concentrate or products to a medical marijuana business, patient or caregiver until approval is received from the Authority.

    • A licensed medical marijuana business premises shall be subject to and responsible for compliance with applicable provisions for medical marijuana business facilities as described in the most recent versions of the Oklahoma Uniform Building Code, the International Building Code and the International Fire Code, unless granted an exemption by the Authority or municipality.

      • No city or local municipality may unduly change or restrict zoning laws to prevent the opening of a retail marijuana establishment.

      • The location of any retail marijuana establishment is specifically prohibited within one thousand (1,000) feet from any public or private school entrance.

Although the Unity Bill has been passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by the Governor, there continues to be discussion at the State Capitol regarding further refinement of the regulatory scheme.  Until the legislative session ends, normally before Memorial Day, additional modifications to the law could be considered and passed.  The Website will be updated as needed after the legislative session has adjourned.

Print Friendly and PDF

7 Myths About Dehydration

Myth #1: Dehydration is uncomfortable, but not dangerous.

  • Fact: While most of us will only ever experience mild dehydration symptoms like headache, sluggishness, or decreased urine/sweat output, it can become severe and require medical attention. Serious complications include swelling of the brain, seizures, kidney failure, and even death, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Myth #2: If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

  • Fact: It’s not too late. In fact, thirst is the body’s way of telling you to drink water, and you are not at risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated the minute you feel parched. When you get thirsty the deficit of water in your body is trivial because your body is a very sensitive gauge. You might actually have only about a 1% reduction in your overall water. The solution is to drink some fluid, preferably water.

Myth #3: Everyone needs to drink 8 glasses of water a day.

  • Fact: This general rule of thumb is outdated, influenced today mostly by bottled water companies. So how much do you need to drink? Men roughly need to drink 3 liters (102 oz.) 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 thumb is to divide your body weight by 2 and drink that many ounces of fluid per day (example: 200 lbs. = 100 ounces).

Myth #4: Clear urine is a sure sign of hydration.

  • Fact: While keeping an eye on your urine output maybe isn’t 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. (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)

Print Friendly and PDF

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac - Myth vs Fact

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.

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.

Print Friendly and PDF

6 Things to Consider Before You Jet a Pipe

High-pressure water cleaning systems have become the tool of choice for maintaining sanitary sewer systems, because of their effectiveness in dealing with grease and sludge, along with their ability to partner with pipe inspection cameras. However, before you fire up your jetter and go off to battle underground monsters, there are six things to keep in mind.

1.    What the heck is down there?

  •  Jetters do a great job on soft stoppages like grease, sand sludge, and even ice. However, when it comes to roots, they are not the preferred tool for the job. If you’re not sure what is happening in the line, you can try to send an inspection camera down to take a look, but if the line is blocked you won’t be able to see much. Remember, cameras can’t see underwater any better than you can. So how can you tell what the blockage is?

  •  First, if the line in question has anything to do with food service, there is a better than even chance that grease is the problem. Using your powers of deduction, you can conclude that blockages in lines leading from restaurants, multi-family dwellings, and any kind of institution involving food service (schools, nursing homes) are likely to be made by grease and maybe rags. The same is true if the pipe in question originates in a factory or industrial facility that flushes lubricants, solvents, or any type of organic material down the drain. Also depending on where you are, sand can be a persistent problem.

 2.    Shake, Rattle, and Roll

  •  Does your jetter unit have a way to vibrate the hose while it is in the pipe? The vibration function is used to break up the surface friction between the hose and the pipe, so you don’t get the hose stuck. One of the first things contractors noticed when they invented jetting some 40 years ago, was that when you connect a hydraulic hose and rear facing nozzle to a pressure washer and shove it down a pipe, there is a chance of getting the hose stuck. And anytime that happens it’s the beginning of a long day, because you’re going to need to get the excavator out. That is why every legitimate manufacturer of high-pressure jetters today has a feature that allows you to vibrate the hose while in use.

 3.    Yes, size matters

  •  Are you using the correct size of hose for the pipe, you are trying to clear? Another excellent way to get your hose stuck in a pipe is by using the wrong size hose, which is surprisingly easy to do. When working with high-pressure water, the philosophy is to use the largest hose that will fit into the pipe. This is because hoses with a larger inside diameter don’t have as much pressure loss due to water friction. All things being equal, the larger the hose, the more pressure at the nozzle. The more pressure at the nozzle the easier it is to do the job.

 4.    Check your water

  •  Since high-pressure water is doing the work down the line, it makes sense that you have enough of it. If you happen to be using a large device with a holding tank, such as a trailer jetter, your only challenge is to make sure the tank doesn’t run dry. Most of these units have an automatic shut-off that keeps this you from making this mistake. However, if you are using a jetter that draws water from a garden hose, a little more attention is required. Most municipal and well water systems in North America deliver approximately 5-6 gallons a minute in flow, but it is recommended that you make no assumptions. Get a 2-gallon bucket and measure how much time it takes to fill it. If you’re close, don’t take the chance, because you could accidentally starve the pump of water and cause cavitation. Cavitation is the second most popular way to kill your pump, so pay attention to details.

 5.    It don’t mean a thing if you don’t have that swing

  •  Keep your hose moving. The preferred technique for jetting a line is to work the hose back and forth: push the hose 2 feet forward, then pull it back a foot, then push forward 2 feet and back a foot. The maximum cleaning action comes when you pull back the hose, not pushing it. As you pull back, the angle of water flow exiting the nozzle scours the sides of the pipe, magnifying your cleaning efforts. If you keep the hose moving, you’ll do a better job and do it in less time.

  •  There is another reason to keep it moving. Because of the fluid dynamics of high-pressure water flow, turbulence can cause vortices to form just behind the nozzle when you are doing the job. These vortices, if stationary for any length of time, can suck sand, loose dirt, grease, or sludge in behind the nozzle, causing it to plug up and trap the hose down in the pipe. Getting your hose stuck in the pipe, no matter what the cause, is a bad thing. Digging it up is usually the only viable option. Again, very time consuming.

 6.    Don’t freeze up

  •  Statistically, freezing is the number one way to kill your pump. If you live in a place with four seasons, you’ll find it surprisingly difficult to keep your pump from freezing when you are doing work on a frigid day. The damage can take place before, during, or after the job, and can affect your hose as well as your pump. If your unit has an antifreeze tank, please get in the habit of using it whenever temperatures are close to freezing. If your unit does not have this feature, introduce antifreeze to keep it from freezing when you are driving to and from the job. Just disconnect the hose that runs from the output valve to the hose reel swivel. Then pour antifreeze into the inlet as you start the motor on the unit, which will draw the fluid through the pump. When you notice antifreeze exiting the output valve, turn off the motor. Then, using an air compressor to blow the water out of the hose (remove the nozzle). Make sure this has been done before you drive to the job, and again before going back to the shop. During the job, limit the amount of time the units sits without water flowing through the pump. Turn the unit on frequently, running water through the bypass system to keep it warm. If you make it someone’s job to pay attention to the pump, then you’ll improve the odds of it surviving till spring.

  •  You probably noticed that most of the points can be summarized by “paying attention to what you are doing” and “do your homework”. Jetters are fantastic tools for our industry, able to address most modern sewer line problems better than other tools at our disposal. But, like everything else in life, greater power comes hand in hand with greater responsibility. If you sweat the details, a jetter is an incredibly versatile and profitable tool that can transform your sewer maintenance program.

Print Friendly and PDF

May 2019 Risk and Safety Newsletter

Print Friendly and PDF

March 2019 Risk & Safety Newsletter

Print Friendly and PDF

January 2019 Risk & Safety Newsletter

Print Friendly and PDF

Cleanliness Helps Prevent Foodborne Illness

Spring has long been the time of year for annual cleaning projects around homes and offices. However, when it comes to safe food handling, everything that comes in contact with food must be kept clean all year long.

Food that is mishandled or not stored properly can lead to foodborne illness. Follow a “Be Food Safe” policy. Being food safe means preventing foodborne illness by following four easy steps:

  1. Clean – wash your hands and surfaces often and disinfect with food-safe Clorox wipes or Lysol.

  2. Separate – don’t cross contaminate. Keep food covered in airtight containers or sealants.

  3. Cook – Cook all foods to proper temperatures and don’t let them stay out in the open air too long.

  4. Chill – Refrigerate promptly.

Cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness. Even with food safety inspections and monitoring, the consumer’s role is to make sure food is handled safely after it is purchased. Everything that touches food should be clean. Here are some suggested steps to take to help prevent foodborne illnesses:

  • Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds

    • Before and after handling food

    • After using the bathroom

    • After changing a diaper

    • After handling pets

    • After tending to a sick person

    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

    • After handling uncooked eggs, meat, fruits and vegetables

If your hands have any kind of skin abrasion or infection, always use clean disposable gloves. Thoroughly wash with hot soapy water any surfaces that have been in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. Use disposable paper towels to clean surfaces, not dishcloths or sponges. Spray or wipe surfaces with disinfectant after cleaning them.

Keep cutting boards clean, wash them with hot soapy water after each use, and then rinse and let air dry. Don’t use the same platter or utensils that held raw meat to serve the cooked product. When using a food thermometer always thoroughly wash it after each use with hot soapy water. Remember to keep pets, household cleaners, and other chemicals away from food and food preparatory stations. Keep refrigerators clean and sanitized; remove old food frequently. When eating out, eat at reputable restaurants and establishments. Avoid eating foods openly exposed in convenience stores like hotdogs, sausages, and taquitos – there are lots of germs floating around in those places.

Taking some time to “be food safe” could keep you and your co-workers or family from experiencing a very uncomfortable foodborne illness. Bon Appetit!

Print Friendly and PDF

Bloodborne Pathogens - Protecting Workers

Every year municipalities, just like any other business, must train their employees about bloodborne pathogens. The following information can assist you in keeping your employees from contracting a bloodborne illness.

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious micro-organisms in human blood that include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. The can infect a healthy body through contact with blood and other body fluids, secretions, and excretions (except sweat). In many cases, contact with infected fluids happens via used needles or other contaminated sharp objects that have not been properly disposed of or properly cleaned and disinfected.

Exposure Control Plan

All organizations where employees could be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) must follow the bloodborne pathogens standard. Employers are responsible for determining which jobs, tasks, and procedures involve an occupational exposure. According to OSHA standards, occupational exposure is a “reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or OPIM that may result from performance of an employee’s duties.” If your workplace carries a risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, you are required to develop an exposure control plan to minimize or eliminate occupational exposures. Start by identifying all the hazards workers may be exposed to. This exposure determination needs to contain a list of jobs with potential exposure and list of procedures that could result in worker exposure. Based on this determination, you should design and implement adequate safety controls using training, providing PPE, and administrative or engineering controls.

Implementing Controls

Elimination of hazards is not feasible in some workplaces. In these situations, it is important to follow basic controls. These controls can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Use “universal precautions”; treat all blood or OPIMs as if they were infected.

  • Implement safe practice controls; update and redesign them as needed.

  • Practice safe decontamination; thoroughly wash and disinfect.

  • Provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, and specialized clothing if needed. Remember employers are responsible for repairing or replacing PPE when required.

  • Implement engineering controls such as sharps disposal containers or needleless systems.

  • Ensure that hepatitis B immunizations are available to all workers, that they have been properly trained and understand how they could be exposed, that they know how to protect themselves from exposure, and that they know what to do if they have potentially been exposed.

  • Use warning labels and signs on containers and in areas where contaminated materials may be stored.

  • Keep and update worker medical and training records regularly.

  • Keep and update a sharps injury log.

Other Employer Responsibilities

After any exposure incident, arrange for a post-exposure medical evaluation and make it available to affected workers. Document the reasons for exposure and test the source individual (the person whose blood or body fluids contacted the worker) for hepatitis B or hepatitis C or HIV infections. Employers are also responsible for offering the exposed worker post-exposure prophylaxis and counseling.

The municipal exposure control plan must be reviewed and updated annually to reflect any workplace changes that might affect safe work procedures. Employers should also make changes to engineering and practice controls based on input from workers.

Workers must receive regular training that covers all aspects of the exposure control plan including who to report incidents to and how to decontaminate after a potential exposure. All new hires must be trained concerning how they could be exposed in their work environment and what to do if they think they have been exposed.

Although engineering controls are the primary method of reducing exposure, behavioral training also aims to achieve this goal by changing how workers perform tasks. When providing training, consider a program that deals with the human factors. This will increase employee self-awareness and help workers see how situations like fatigue and complacency may put them, their co-workers, or families at greater risk of contracting an illness from a bloodborne pathogen. Safety needs to be addressed from all possible angles to provide workers with the best protection available.

Print Friendly and PDF