Safety & Health Promotion FAQs

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Should we post signs in our playground?

Please Note: The risk management opinions below are intended to assist you in your loss control efforts. We do not assume responsibility for the discovery or elimination of all hazards, which could possibly cause accidents or losses. Recommendations are developed from experience and may not include every possible cause of loss. Compliance with these recommendations does not guarantee the fulfillment of your obligation under local, state, or federal law.

The question of whether signage is effective at reducing accidents on playgrounds has been debated for many years. Since supervision is not provided in many public play areas, signs can be used to educate users. Good signage is a form of supervision and as such may help reduce injuries as well as claims of negligence in playground liability cases. Another purpose is to get feedback from users on things that concern them, are broken or in need of attention.

Here are some things to consider:

Placement
* Signs should be placed in conspicuous areas, near entryways and equipment.
Language
* At a minimum, the playground should have a sign that states the age group for which it was designed.
* Other language should include:
- Rules of Use (don't stand on the slide; no bare feet, etc.).
- Hours of operation.
- Area to be used only with adult supervision.
- Safety warnings (do not use equipment when wet; no running, pushing, or shoving, etc.).
- Ask users to report any unsafe equipment or conditions; provide a phone number.
Construction
* Yellow background (universal color for caution signs) with black text.
* Size appropriate for location (at least 11"x17").
Maintenance
* All signs should be checked frequently and repaired or replaced as needed so they remain legible.

If you would like more information or would like to discuss one of these questions further, please contact the VLCT Safety & Health Promotion Department at 800-649-7915.

How old do you need to be to drive a fire truck?

Please Note: The risk management opinion below is intended to assist you in your loss control efforts. We do not assume responsibility for the discovery or elimination of all hazards, which could possibly cause accidents or losses. Recommendations are developed from experience and may not include every possible cause of loss. Compliance with these recommendations does not guarantee the fulfillment of your obligation under local, state, or federal law.

Eighteen years of age, in the opinion of the VLCT Safety and Health Promotion Department. Many states, including Vermont, require operators of vehicles with weights of 26,000 lbs. or more to have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). Requirements for this license recognize the hazardous nature of operating a vehicle of that size and complexity. They include:

* 18 years old and have a valid Vermont Class I license to get a learner's permit for a CDL.
* Physical exam within the last two years.
* Must pass (classroom) knowledge and vision test.
* While learning (hands on) you must be accompanied by a holder of a CDL.
* Must pass skill test (road test).
* Minimum of 18 to get a CDL and operate within Vermont; 21 if you go to another state (interstate commerce).

Unfortunately, from a safety standpoint, even though fire apparatus is among some of the largest on the road and is operated in close quarters under emergency conditions (adrenaline), it is excluded from these requirements.

However, the VLCT Safety and Health Promotion Department believes that our child labor laws prohibit anyone under 18 from operating certain pieces of hazardous equipment including trucks. This thinking recognizes the serious hazards to both the driver and public, and we believe it is good advice. Some might choose to ignore this because they question the employee-employer relationship in the volunteer fire service, but we think it is the spirit of the law that is important.

Beyond the obvious possible loss of a $500,000 piece of equipment and injury or death to the driver and others, you need to consider the impact on taxpayers when a young, inexperienced driver doesn't arrive on the emergency scene in time to take action. Even the best-financed and trained emergency responders are of little value if they don't get to the scene.

Our advice is to follow the requirements for a CDL license and, in fact, this is what many departments do.

If you would like more information or would like to discuss one of these questions further, please contact the VLCT Safety & Health Promotion Department at 800-649-7915.

As an elected official in my community, what can I do to help with our safety and risk management activities?

Please Note: The risk management opinion below is intended to assist you in your loss control efforts. We do not assume responsibility for the discovery or elimination of all hazards, which could possibly cause accidents or losses. Recommendations are developed from experience and may not include every possible cause of loss. Compliance with these recommendations does not guarantee the fulfillment of your obligation under local, state, or federal law.

No safety program will work for long without strong, sincere commitment and support from senior management. That's you. Here are a few things you can do that will really help:
* Insist that town officials take a proactive approach to reducing risk; develop a Safety Policy.
* Compare your operations to VOSHA and other standards and formulate a plan to make needed changes.
* Get employee input on hazards and how to eliminate them. Often, the people actually doing the job are in the best position to understand the problems associated with their activities.
* Provide visible and active support ("walk the walk").
* Develop overall goals for the program.
* Assign responsibility and authority.
* Provide reasonable resources.
* Form a Safety Committee.
* Design a system to measure performance. Integrate Safety/Risk Management into all jobs.
- Hold all employees accountable for working safely and achieving results.
- Include safety results in all performance evaluations.
If you would like more information or would like to discuss one of these questions further, please contact the VLCT Safety & Health Promotion Department at 800-649-7915.