Summer Custodial and Maintenance Trainings

Summer Custodial and Maintenance Trainings

By Annette Satterly Risk Management Associate and Harry Cheff Risk Management Associate

Due to the COVID lockdown, MSGIA was unable to hold the Regional Custodial/Maintenance in-person trainings for the past couple of years. That is about to change! In the summer of 2022, Annette Satterly and Harry Cheff will be traveling the state conducting regional safety training for various employee groups, including custodians, maintenance staff, engineers, tradespersons, and groundskeepers. Covering the requirements set forth by the Montana Safety Culture Act and the Montana Safety Act, this training will focus in particular on program trends and focus areas identified by the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) Safety Bureau.

Most districts have had at least one inspection from the DOLI Safety Bureau. The districts undergoing these inspections should expect the Safety Bureau to touch on many areas, several of which are listed below:

  1. Compliance with the Montana Safety Culture Act
    1. Provide a record of conducting quarterly (at minimum) safety meetings
    2. Provide a record of new-employee orientation (these must cover general topics, contain information for all employees, and ensure appropriate business operations before employees begin their regular duties)
  2. The district must have a safety policy
  3. MTSBA Model Policy 8301
  4. Current District Safety Handbook
    1. MSGIA will provide a sample handbook upon request
  5. Provide a record of new-employee orientation that occurs before duties begin and that includes a specific focus on safety orientation, as well as information appropriate to business operations (the employer must retain for 3 years all documentation of these safety-related activities)
  6. Provide annual Facility Inspection
  7. Documented annual staff training on equipment operations, including the following:
  8. Outdoors – lawnmowers (riding/push), weed eaters, chainsaws, snowblowers, Bobcats/John     Deers/Gators, and maintenance shop equipment
    1. Indoors – floor buffers, industrial floor/scrubbers, lifts, saws, drills, lathes, etc.
    2. Additionally, all equipment operated by students under the age of 18 must comply with the Child Labor Laws
  9. All machine guarding safety devices and outlet faceplates are in place
  10. Load bearing stickers (lofts, shelves, etc.) are in place
  11. Inspections may include:
  12. Food service area, transportation, and/or maintenance building
  13. Classrooms inspected may include, but are not limited to Family Consumer Science, Industrial Arts, Science Labs (Chemical Storage), metal and auto shops, etc.

These upcoming regional trainings will touch on most, if not all, of the area listed above.

The summer cleaning crews will hit the ground running once school is out of the summer.  In many districts, the custodial staff removes all the furniture from a classroom in order to do a thorough cleaning.  This can include stripping and waxing the floors or shampooing the carpet.  Walls may need to be wiped down or painted, depending on the district’s rotation schedule.  Student and staff desks and chairs are wiped clean.  Windows, file cabinets, and bookshelves are cleaned.  Then, all the furniture is returned to the classroom.  This list of tasks puts a great deal of stress on a person’s shoulders, backs, neck, arms, and legs.  Additionally, custodial personnel cleans the hallways, bathrooms, offices, and all of the other areas of the school that need a good scrubbing.  This intensive and repetitive type of work leads to an increase in strain and injury and repetitive motion-type claims. That is why the Regional Summer trainings are so important.

The maintenance department is under the same time and work constraints as the custodial staff.  Once school is released, they must tackle a list of requests in/outdoors.  Tending to the grounds would include mowing, weeding, maintenance of sprinkler systems, and trimming trees and shrubs. (Remember to cut limbs a minimum of 7 feet above the ground). Mowing lawns and weed eating can be routine if the individual is properly trained to recognize dangers.

Indoor tasks may include painting, electrical, plumbing, and minor renovation of rooms and/or offices.  Maintenance employees will routinely change out ceiling light bulbs in classrooms, hallways, and gymnasiums.  Some districts have their staff remove carpets.  Most Districts are heated with boiler systems.  Maintenance personnel will perform the annual cleaning before they are inspected.  Whatever the task may be, this work takes a toll on the shoulders, backs, and joints.

Due to the injuries MSGIA receives from staff during the summer months, there is no shortage of topics to be covered. Here is a quick look at areas to be discussed:

  1. Hazardous Communication Training (mandatory for staff that use chemicals in the workplace)
  2. Blood-Borne Pathogen Training (mandatory for staff who could potentially be exposed to body fluids in the course and scope of work)
  3. The training is based on injuries to employees and safety measures to avoid these claims. Subjects discussed include; slip/trip/fall prevention, avoiding bodily motion injuries, averting claims from the employee being caught in or under something, preventing cuts, punctures, and scrapes, and stopping injuries from being struck by, striking against, or stepping on objects. The struck by class will also touch on working with students who may strikeout.
  4. Working above the floor on Ladders, Scaffolding, Scissor/Genie Lifts
  5. Lockout/Tagout procedures
  6. Accessing Confined Spaces
  7. Process for filing a workers’ comp claim
  8. Review of the Safe Schools website to view online courses
  9. General topics of working outdoors and facilities maintenance

In conclusion, the laws set forth by the Department of Labor and Industry and the Montana Safety Culture Act are meant to provide employees with a safe working environment. The Regional trainings that MSGIA provides will inform staff of the safety measures they need to take to avoid claims that could keep them from performing their duties. Please contact either Annette Satterly or Harry Cheff if you have any questions.

As always be safe and be careful. Return to newsletter