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Municipal Workers/Power/Lighting/Safety Gear/Water Districts/MUD/Heavy Lifting - Back Injury
Although not all MUD workers are willing to plunge their torsos 5 feet deep in muddy waters to fix a burst water pipe like Acton's Jimmie Cox did, employees of Texas’ cities and municipalities often go to great lengths — and depths — to keep the infrastructure humming along.
Governmental workers tasked with the installation, maintenance, and repair of public utilities are frequently exposed to dangerous conditions and less-than-ideal environments. Fire department, law enforcement, and EMS personnel routinely risk their lives to save others. First responders also frequently pay a huge emotional price in the form of stress and burnout.
While no public service job is without risk, following is a quick review of some basic safety precautions workers can take to stay injury-free and healthy.
1) Don’t take chances with your vision. Be sure to wear safety glasses with the ANSI Z87 certification marked on the frame. This standard means your safety eyewear is designed to protect you from the most common hazards that include:
- Blunt impact
- Splashes and droplets
- Small dust particles
2) Own two pairs of safety glasses: clear and tinted. Clear lenses will help prevent tripping and other accidents when you’re working in dim lighting conditions, such as at dusk or dawn.
3) Use a face shield in addition to your safety glasses when you’re working with equipment such as a grinder, saw, or spray-washer.
4) When working with chemicals, wear Z87-rated splash-resistant chemical googles.
Although cotton gloves are usually fine for general labor use, they wear out very quickly. Invest in a pair of heavy-duty leather gloves. Not only do they last longer, the high-visibility feature offers you additional protection when working with others around machinery.
Welders, electricians, and those exposed to chemicals require special safety gloves appropriate for the hazards involved. Be sure to consult the manufacturer’s specification for each tool you use in the event that wearing gloves is not advised for safe operation.
A brain injury can result in a concussion, headaches, neck aches, backaches, and cognitive difficulties — and if it’s traumatic enough, nerve damage and paralysis.
Do you routinely check your hard hat for cracks, discoloration, burn marks, or pitting? Frequently examine both inside and outside for damage. How’s the internal webbing? Does it need replacing? Don’t gamble on the health of your brain. Head injuries are one of the most serious type of workplace injuries.
Back injuries account for more than 20 percent of all workplace injuries in the United States, according to EMSWorld. They are particularly problematic for first responders. A few more statistics include:
- At any given time, nearly 10 percent of the EMS workforce is out of work from injury.
- Nearly 25 percent of all EMS workers experience career-ending back injuries within the first four years of their career.
- 62 percent of all pre-hospital provider back injuries result from lifting patients.
Use proper mechanics to reduce your chance of injury when lifting anything heavy:
- Plant your feet shoulder-width apart with one foot slightly in front of the other. Rest with your weight back on your feet.
- Keep a straight back.
- Bend slowly at the knees. Allow the leg muscles to do the work rather than your back muscles.
- Keep the load close to your body.
- Keep your chin up.
- Pull your shoulders back.
Observing proper body mechanics when lifting prevents you from leaning forward, which helps to keep your spine aligned and stabilized.
Free Safety Programs for all TMLIRP Member Entities
If you’d like to learn more about workplace safety at no charge to you, check out these upcoming TML training sessions.
The Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool is the leading provider of workers’ compensation, liability, and property coverage for local governments in Texas. Founded in 1974, we are the oldest and largest pool of its type in the United States, serving over 2800 governments and political subdivisions. We are driven to continue the mission that began over 40 years ago, providing our members with a tailored risk financing system through reliable partnership, performance, and service.
If you are currently looking for coverage, or have any questions please contact our team with any questions.