The experience of two cities that participate in LMCIT Regional Safety Groups
Annandale (Population 3,334)
The City of Annandale has 15 full-time employees, nine part-time employees, and 24 volunteer firefighters. In 2013, the city wanted to improve safety training, particularly for Public Works.
Although the prior training met the minimum requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), staff felt the training was not always relevant to what they did, and keeping our staff interested in the training was difficult.
Public Works Director Joe Haller started researching options for the city and learned about the Regional Safety Group (RSG) program, sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) and the Minnesota Municipal Utility Association (MMUA). After attending an informational meeting to learn more about the structure of RSGs, Haller knew that this format would be a good fit for a city of our size. Haller reached out to area cities to gauge interest in being part of an RSG and after receiving support, a group was created. The cities of Annandale, Rockford, Greenfield, and Albertville form the Crow River Regional Safety Group.
The cities meet annually to set the monthly training schedule for the following year. The group uses resources provided by MMUA to determine which trainings are mandatory, as well as choose from a variety of recommended trainings that are relevant to current issues in their work environment. Since transitioning to an RSG, we have been able to offer current and relevant training that has increased staff engagement and improved our day-to-day operations. Our staff are more conscious of their work environment and more likely to make suggestions to improve the processes involved with accomplishing their tasks.
There are several things our group has learned along the way on how to do our jobs safer, but the most important thing we’ve learned is that you get out of safety training what you put into it.
We previously put very little effort into our safety program. Training was boring, and no one wanted to attend. Now we have control over the training content, which has allowed us to have interactive classes and discussions. It provides information that our staff can put to good use in their jobs immediately.
Wilmont (Population 344)
Several city clerks in our area were introduced to the concept of Regional Safety Groups (RSGs) at a League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) Safety & Loss Control Workshop about 10 years ago.
Wilmont was one of six area communities that got together in 2009 and formed what is now known as the Southwest Regional Safety Group.
I liked the idea of the group both because of the learning and the cost savings. You not only share the cost of the training with the other members of your group, but LMCIT also covers half the cost. It also made sense because our city clerks already do a lot of networking and are always ready to help each other out.
Kari Carlson, with the City of Slayton, was instrumental in starting our group. The other five cities are Fulda, Jasper, Ellsworth, Rushmore, and Wilmont. Our populations range from 344 to about 2,000. Each city learns so much about OSHA requirements through our RSG trainings.
LMCIT partners with the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) to provide an experienced trainer for each RSG. Our MMUA trainer, Mike Sewell, clarifies the safety needs and OSHA requirements that affect all our cities. Our group’s cities take turns hosting a bimonthly meeting. Then Sewell spends the rest of the day at the host city to help ensure OSHA safety standards are in place or advise the city on what may need to be done to get them in place. At each meeting, we learn vital safety information that we might not have discovered on our own. This is what is so important about our group meetings—we have the most up-to-date safety information and requirements from a reputable source.
Because we have been spreading the word about how much our member cities are benefiting from the safety group, we have welcomed two more cities: Heron Lake and Round Lake. If your city has not joined or formed a Regional Safety Group, I would highly encourage it. It is an opportunity to learn more about how to keep our employees and communities safe.
Learn more about Regional Safety Groups at www.lmc.org/rsg.
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