Workplace Safety

Frank Keating, Safety and Health Coordinator, Village of Rockville Center, New York
Harry L. Weed, Superintendent of Public Works, Village of Rockville Center, New York; member, APWA Facilities & Grounds Committee

The common theme today is "do more with less." Unfortunately, a lot of our work force has been cut and depleted by downsizing and attrition. Our goal is to make sure the staff we have and any new employees are kept healthy and safe. We cannot afford to lose anyone due to a compensation claim or rising compensation costs.

NIMS and an additional comprehensive safety training procedure will help keep everyone working safely and, in the long run, will pay for the cost and lost work-hours sustained.

The Village of Rockville Centre has therefore adopted the following program:

The health and safety of all employees is of utmost priority to the Village of Rockville Centre ("Village") and no phase of our operations is more important than accident prevention. For this reason, a comprehensive Safety Manual has been prepared for use by all employees. This manual is one component of a Village Safety Program which includes training, job site inspections and provision of appropriate protective equipment.

It is the responsibility of the Village to provide safety equipment and training. It is the responsibility of employees to use the provided equipment and to apply their training, resulting in the safe performance of all tasks.

Employees are expected to read and understand the Safety Manual. Compliance with safety rules is mandatory and violations will not be tolerated. Safe practices benefit all employees; each worker has a personal interest in safety and often one's own safety depends on the actions of fellow workers.

It is the responsibility of the designated supervisor to see that work is performed in a safe manner and that the work site is safe and secure. However, before starting any job, employees should thoroughly understand the work to be done and all safety rules which apply.

Employees must be certain they can perform a required task without injury and, if there is any doubt, they should advise their designated supervisor. Employees should immediately report unsafe tools and equipment, as well as any hazardous condition which comes to their attention.

Employees who endanger themselves or others will be subject to disciplinary action. Horseplay and practical joking are prohibited.

Use of intoxicating beverages or drugs during working hours is prohibited and will result in severe disciplinary action. Taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs which might affect work performance must be reported to the designated supervisor.

Employee development and training are essential processes in the operation of any company or government institution. People provide the services to residents, business owners and other constituents of the community. The Village has designated an Employee Development Officer and has staffed an Employee Development Advisory Committee.

During the first week of employment, each new staff person sits for a core curriculum of classes. In addition, new laborers in safety-sensitive positions receive advanced training in safety equipment and practices as well as in their specialties.

The Police Department conducts comprehensive training in addition to the offerings of Nassau County, New York State and the United States Department of Homeland Security. The volunteer Fire Department also conducts its program in accordance with local Nassau County, New York State and the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Employees also attend annual refresher training as mandated by state and federal regulations.

New Employee Orientation
Orientation is provided in most cases within one week of employment. Training components are provided based on the expected duties of the new employee, with input requested from the department.

Work environment within the department is also considered, resulting in "awareness level" training, as necessary. If a "background" exposure exists at the site(s) of employment, such training might include Blood-Borne Pathogens, Confined Spaces, Lock-out/Tag-out, Hearing Conservation, etc. For example, a summer seasonal employee at the Recreation Center receives Blood-Borne Pathogen training. Although first aid or accident cleanup is not their responsibility, they need to know who to call for assistance and why they must be careful.

The following components are provided to all new employees during orientation: Hazard Communication; Blood Borne Pathogens; Fire Safety and Emergency Evacuation; EAP (Employee Assistance Program); Slip, Trip & Fall.

These components are provided to some employees, based on considerations noted above: Personal Protective Equipment; Back/Lifting Safety; Jobsite Safety.

The following components are generally provided only to new full-time or part-time employees in safety-sensitive titles: Respiratory Protection; Confined Spaces; Lock-out/Tag-out; Refuse Collection Safety; Work Zone Safety; Hearing Conservation; Forklift Safety.

Annual Training Requirements for all Employees
The only requirement for all Village employees continues to be: Hazard Communication/NY State Right to Know.

The Village fully complies with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (Title 29, Code of Federal Regulations, 1910.1200) and with New York State "Right to Know" regulations.

A listing of hazardous materials is maintained through the use of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS); a complete MSDS file is maintained at each work location and is available for examination by all employees.

Labeling of containers conforms to OSHA requirements for hazardous materials.

Annual training sessions are provided to all full-time, part-time and seasonal employees.

Annual Training Requirement for Certain Employees
Based on potential for exposure, if initial training is provided, certain topics require subsequent annual retraining or refresher training. These are: Lock-out/Tag-out; Respiratory Protection; Hearing Conservation. Refresher training is also required for most, if not all, topics if there is an accident or near-miss or if there is any change in or addition to tasks, employee assignment, processes, equipment or hazardous materials.

Lock-out/Tag-out regulations also require an annual written audit for each affected department, performed by employees who do not use the specific equipment or work in the immediate area. This program element has not been implemented and will place a significant burden on staff.

Special Annual Training Requirements:

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA): Employees receive training and fit-test instruction. Length: 2 hours.

Commercial Drivers License, Drug & Alcohol Program: Managers and non-managerial supervisors in affected departments (Electric, Water, Garage, Sewer, Sanitation, Highway, Recreation & Parks and Senior Services) attend one of a series of 1-1/2-hour training sessions.

Confined Spaces: Employees in the Electric, Water and Sewer departments receive training during an all-day session conducted by Consolidated Risk Management, Inc.

Work Zone Safety: Employees in the Electric, Water, Sewer and Highway departments receive training in one of two 3-hour sessions conducted by the Cornell Local Roads Program.

First Aid and CPR Certification

Defensive Driving given every three years

Frank Keating can be reached at (516) 678-9293; Harry L. Weed can be reached at (516) 678-9267 or hlwadpw@aol.com.