Serving Colorado's Counties

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) Playground Safety Handbook provides best practices for playground design, installation, maintenance, and routine inspection process management. A current copy of the handbook is available from https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/325.pdf. Ensuring that playgrounds are safe requires careful consideration of the type of equipment provided, as well as a diligent maintenance and inspection program.

There are two fundamental components of Playground Inspection and Maintenance Programs:

Suggested Procedures for Playground Inspection and Maintenance

Pick at least two full-time positions in facilities maintenance or a similar department and make those specifically responsible for playground inspection and maintenance. Playground maintenance should be done on a weekly and monthly basis and include an annual process with all appropriate written records. The maintenance crew and supervisor responsible for playground inspection and maintenance should, at a minimum:

You can use any standard inspection and maintenance record format or make up your own to better match your specific playgrounds and equipment. Many playground equipment manufacturers include checklists and maintenance schedules for their equipment. If no checklist is provided, the CPSC Handbook provides several sample checklists.

Playground

Annual Inspections

Annual inspections should use the CPSC Playground Safety Handbook inspection guidelines and are best performed by a team including a manager, the supervisor, and the crew members specifically responsible for playground inspection and maintenance. These inspections need to be detailed and thorough, documenting current conditions in a formal written format with photos. The inspection should include specific recommendations for repair, removal, and/or replacement of equipment, surfacing, etc. Annual inspections should produce an official record that is used to guide budgetary allocation for playground upgrades.

What This Means for Counties

Inadequate maintenance of playground equipment poses a risk to the community and accounts for many avoidable injuries. Check to make sure that your county has an inspection and maintenance plan in place. For Playground Safety Guides and a Playground Safety Inspection Checklists, visit https://www.cpsc.gov/safety-education/safety-guides/playgrounds. For additional assistance on maintaining safe playgrounds, contact the CTSI Loss Prevention Team at 303-861-0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

Twice a year, CTSI sends out your county’s property list with addresses and values. Next month, you will be receiving the most up-to-date list as part of your county’s CAPP renewal packet.

If you have any buildings that are not on your list of properties, include a Building Add/Delete Form with your renewal, and we will add them to your county’s list of properties.

Failure to report any buildings can compromise your insurance coverage. If a building is not on the CTSI county property list and damage occurs, you may not be entitled to CAPP coverage. 

Adding a Building to CAPP Coverage

Whenever the county acquires a new building, regardless of value, it must be reported to CTSI within 90 days in order for coverage to apply.

There is no charge for adding buildings valued under $5 million mid-term. There is a pro-rated charge for adding buildings over $5 million any time during the policy period. There is no credit for deleting buildings mid-term.

The Building Add/Delete Form is available at www.ctsi.org or by contacting Brenda Hostetler, bhostetler@ctsi.org.

Builder’s Risk Insurance

Builder’s risk insurance is property insurance that provides coverage on buildings or structures while they are under construction. It may also cover foundations, fixtures, machinery, and equipment used to service the building and the materials and supplies used in the course of construction.

CAPP member counties have up to $5 million in builder’s risk coverage for renovations and repairs made by the Insured at any location (including new locations with total contract cost under $5 million).

Building under construction

For builder’s risk projects over $5 million, CAPP does not provide any coverage. Member counties have the following two options: 1) The member can have the contractor secure builder’s risk on the entire project; or 2) The member can obtain a standalone builder’s risk policy through the pool’s insurance broker for the entire project. 

Regardless of who provides the builder’s risk coverage, counties need to submit a CAPP Builder’s Risk Notification Form. The form is available at www.ctsi.org or by contacting Brenda Hostetler, bhostetler@ctsi.org.

What This Means for Counties

Your CAPP property coverage can be compromised if the county does not list all county building locations with addresses or follow the builder’s risk procedures. This is very important as excess insurance carriers are more demanding of that information to ensure coverage. For more information, contact CTSI at (303) 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

As the supply of COVID-19 vaccines increases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that employers implement supportive policies to increase the number of people vaccinated. According to the CDC, "Although COVID-19 vaccine supply is currently limited, it's not too early to share clear, complete and accurate messages, promote confidence in the decision to get vaccinated, and engage your employees in plans to address potential barriers to vaccination." One of the ways employers can help increase vaccinations rates among employees is by offering incentives such as paid time off for employees to receive their vaccinations.

Colorado has not mandated that employees get vaccinated for COVID-19 for in-person work; however, employers can make vaccinations mandatory. For more information on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, see Technical Update vol 25 no 4. – Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations & CAPP Coverage, and for COVID-19  Vaccine FAQs visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine-faq.  If an employer makes COVID-19 vaccination mandatory, they should pay non-exempt employees for the time it takes them to get the vaccine if not during work hours or allow them paid time off for a work time appointment. The employer should also cover any costs for the vaccine that are not covered by insurance.

Employees may opt-out of receiving a vaccine through an exemption in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Visit https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pandemic-preparedness-workplace-and-americans-disabilities-act for additional information from the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission about how the ADA impacts how employers can implement COVID-19 protections.

What This Means for Counties

Colorado counties should encourage employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations; however, there are numerous considerations counties should take into account before making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory. Counties that do make vaccination mandatory should pay non-exempt employees for the time to receive the vaccine and cover any related costs. Federal and state laws and guidance regarding COVID-19 are still being developed as the pandemic continues to playout. Counties should consult their local health departments and county attorneys before issuing employee-specific COVID-19 regulations. Contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

On November 3, 2020, Colorado voters passed Proposition 118, Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (PFML), which creates a state-run, paid family and medical leave insurance program. Beginning January 1, 2024, eligible Colorado employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a covered reason. The PFML program will be administered by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s new Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance.

Who is Eligible?

PFML applies to employers with at least ten employees; however, employers with nine or fewer employees may opt into the program. Local governments may also opt-out of the plan; however, local government employees whose employer has declined to participate and self-employed individuals may choose to opt-in and pay only the employee portion of the premium directly to the PFML fund.

Eligible employees are those who have worked at least 180 days and earned $2,500 in wages that were subject to PFML premiums. While similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), PFML only requires six months of employment for eligibility and also offers an additional four weeks of coverage for serious pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. An employee can not be required to exhaust available PTO before or while receiving PFML benefits.

What Kinds of Leave are Covered?

Employees may take PFML leave for the following reasons:

How is it Funded?

PFML is funded by a 0.9 percent payroll tax shared between employer and employee that goes into effect on January 1, 2023. The PFML benefit amount is based on comparing the employee’s average weekly wage (AWW) and the state average weekly wage (SAWW). An eligible employee will receive 90 percent of their AWW for the portion of their wages that are less than or equal to 50 percent of the SAWW and 50 percent of the portion of wages that exceed 50 percent of the SAWW. For 2024 this cannot exceed $1,100 per week. After 2024, the benefit amount will be tied to the SAWW.

What This Means for Counties

By voting for PFML, Colorado joins nine other states and the District of Colombia in enacting paid family medical leave. Colorado counties may opt-out of paying premiums into the PFML fund; however, their employees may choose to contribute to the fund and receive PFML benefits for a covered event. For questions about PFML, visit https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Initiatives/titleBoard/filings/2019-2020/283Final.pdf or contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

After the recent winter storm that covered much of Colorado, county maintenance staff should examine county buildings for areas that could be damaged by freezing temperatures and snowy weather, such as roofs, gutters, and pipes.

Ice Dams

Ice dams occur when water freezes near the edge of a roof or around drains and prevents melting snow from draining properly. The water can back up and leak into a building causing damage to roofs and walls. To prevent ice dams, keep drains, gutters, and downspouts free of debris. You may also increase ceiling insulation or add self-regulating heating cables to problem areas.

Roof Damage

Snow and ice can build up on roofs causing structural damage. According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, 10 - 12 inches of fresh snow or 3-5 inches of packed snow is equal to one inch of water or about 5 lbs per sq. ft. of roof space. An inch of ice equals about a foot of fresh snow. Snow and ice buildup can stress the limits of roofs, even those designed for winter weather. Know the snow load of your buildings, something that can be determined by a structural engineer, and take steps such as snow removal before snow levels reach those limits.

Ice dam damage of roof and gutter .

Frozen Pipes

Frozen and burst pipes are a significant source of property damage during winter weather. Pipes freeze when the heat in the water flowing through the pipes is transferred to below-freezing air. The best way to prevent this from happening is to ensure that pipes are placed in heated spaces and kept out of attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls. Of course, this is not always possible, especially in existing structures, so pipes at risk of exposure to freezing temperatures should be well insulated. Insulation sleeves or wrapping, usually made of foam rubber or fiberglass, can be placed around pipes to slow heat transfer. Check that there are no gaps in the coverage.

Also, check building foundations for cracks or holes near water pipes. Use caulk to seal these areas and keep cold wind out. Closed cabinet doors in bathrooms and kitchens can block warm air from reaching pipes. During a cold spell, open the doors and let the faucet drip. A dripping faucet will not prevent a pipe from freezing, but it can relieve the pressure buildup when ice blocks a pipe to keep it from bursting. 

What This Means for Counties

Prepare county buildings for winter weather by evaluating vulnerable areas such as roofs, gutters, and exposed pipes. Take proactive steps to prevent damage.  For more information about preparing buildings for winter weather, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

Because boilers and pressure vessels can explode, causing property damage, injury, and death, the state of Colorado has a Boiler Inspection Section, part of the Oil and Public Safety division, that enforces nationally adopted standards on installation, operation, maintenance, and repair. Boilers and pressure vessels in commercial and public buildings must be inspected either annually or every two or three years, depending on BTU input.

Inspections may be conducted by either a Colorado Boiler Section inspector or by a special inspector. Special inspectors are inspectors employed by an insurance company licensed to sell or provide insurance for boilers or pressure vessels in Colorado who holds a valid commission as inspector issued by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessels.

Boiler Room

What Does an Inspection Check?

A boiler or pressure vessel inspection checks nine different items:

  1. Nameplate
  2. Relief Valve or Safety Valve
  3. Control Safety Devices
  4. Boiler Room Piping
  5. Combustion Air
  6. Flue Pipe Connections
  7. Expansion Tanks
  8. Boiler Room Condition
  9. Internal Inspections

For more information about each of these items, view the What the Inspector Looks for When Inspecting a Boiler.

How Much Is an Inspection by a State Inspector?

A boiler or pressure vessel inspection conducted by a Colorado Boiler Section Inspector requires an inspection fee and a certificate fee based on the BTU input of the boiler/vessel. Currently, an initial inspection after installation costs $100 with a $25 certificate fee. A State Inspector must perform initial inspections; however, subsequent inspections can be performed by special insurance inspectors.

How to Schedule a No-fee Inspection?

CAPP members have the option of arranging a no-fee boiler inspection through Liberty Mutual Insurance, which offers boiler and pressure vessel inspections as part of their equipment breakdown insurance.

To schedule jurisdictional inspections, contact Liberty Mutual at 877-526-0020 or by email at LMEBInspections@LibertyMutual.com.

To facilitate service scheduling, please provide the following information when calling: Company name, address of location needing service, contact person with telephone number, Liberty Mutual policy number.

What This Means for Counties

Beyond the initial inspection, CTSI members do not need to pay to have boiler and pressure vessels in county buildings inspected. Counties should contact Liberty Mutual Insurance at the number or email provided to arrange for an inspection. For assistance in arranging a boiler or pressure vessel inspection, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

In 2010 and 2013, legislation was enacted to allow counties to purchase crime insurance in lieu of surety bonds for elected officials, staff, other named insureds, and public trustees.

This legislation saves CAPP member counties money by not having to purchase bonds because CAPP member county’s named insureds have $1 million in public officials’ liability (E&O) coverage and $150,000 in crime coverage. These coverages are greater than the prior statutory bond requirements and are provided through your CAPP coverage at no additional charge.

CAPP Named Insureds

Those individuals who were or now are elected or appointed officials of the Named Insureds, including members of their governing bodies or any other committees, trustees, boards or commissions of the Named Insureds; district attorneys, their assistants, and staff while acting for or on behalf of district attorneys; agents, volunteers, and Useful Public Servants; all of the foregoing while acting for or on behalf of the Named Insureds.

Exception: Members of the following boards or commissions are not Insureds: Housing Authorities, Port Authorities, School Boards, or Railroad Boards.

Purpose of Legislation Allowing Crime Coverage

Surety bonds were originally meant to protect taxpayers against wrongdoings on the part of county officials. However, the surety bond protection became outdated and did not offer as much protection.

Additionally, using insurance instead of sureties is preferred because, in the past, a county official could be held personally liable for court costs resulting from a frivolous lawsuit. Indemnification clauses in the surety bond contracts require the county or the county official to reimburse the court costs that the surety bond company takes on, even if the lawsuit is thrown out of court. Insurance contracts do not have such personal indemnification clauses.

Grant Applications

In some instances, when applying for a grant, the county may be required to secure a bond as a condition of receiving the grant. You should ask the grant agency if your CAPP coverage will suffice, but they may still require a bond. In these cases, the county should purchase a bond to move forward with the project.

Activities Outside of CAPP Coverage

If you participate on a board that is not insured by CAPP and are required to have a surety bond, a bond will need to be purchased for that purpose.

What This Means to Counties

CAPP member counties save money by not having to purchase bonds while obtaining excellent protection than bonds afford. Refer to C.R.S. 30-10-110 for detailed information on crime coverage in lieu of bonds.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

Inquiries about the liability in the use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) continue to grow as interest in the use of drones rises. Members of the Colorado Counties Casualty and Property Pool (CAPP) should be aware that your CAPP coverage excludes aircraft operations, and the use of drones falls under this language. So, if you are operating a drone involved in an accident with an individual or property, your CAPP coverage will not cover that exposure.

Drone flying over field at sunset

Further, many drones have expensive equipment attached, such as cameras. That property would not be covered under CAPP but might be included in specialty drone hull insurance. However, this coverage is extremely limited and expensive. If you have county-owned land that drone enthusiasts use, you are exposing your county to liability for premises medical pay. Even if the county is not directly involved in the drone's operation, the county could be liable for premises medical pay for injuries for failing to adequately safeguard invitees even if there are other potentially liable parties involved. Your CAPP insurance provides coverage for premises medical pay. CAPP would not cover the exposure of the hobbyists using your grounds.

What This Means for Counties

Specialty insurance policies might be available for drone operations to cover potential liabilities depending on several factors, including whether the drone(s) are properly authorized by the FAA with a Certificate of Authorization (COA) or with an exemption under the Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems rule (49 U.S.C. §44807).

For further information on drone coverage, contact the pool's broker for aviation coverage:

Tracy Paladino

Client Service Supervisor at Gallagher

303-889-2614

Tracy_Paladino@ajg.com

For additional information about the use of drones by counties, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

The Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA, S.B. 20-205, July 12, 2020) signed into law by Governor Polis last year contains provisions that expand paid sick leave in 2021.

Who is Covered?

The HFWA applies to all Colorado employers with 16 or more employees in 2021. Coverage expands to employers of any size in 2022. The Act does not apply to federal government employees, but it does apply to Colorado state employees, including county employees. If an employer under a collective bargaining agreement already provides paid sick leave equal to or more generous than in the HFWA, that employer is exempt from the Act’s requirements as long as employees covered by the bargaining agreement have equivalent paid leave to that which the Act provides.

How is Paid Leave Calculated?

Employers must provide one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. Paid leave begins accruing on an employee’s first day. Exempt employees accrue leave as if they work 40 hours weekly, even if they work more. However, non-exempt employees accrue leave for every hour worked, even overtime hours. Leave is paid at the same hourly rate or salary as regular pay with the same benefits but need not include overtime, bonuses, or holiday pay.

When can Paid Leave be Taken?

The Act lists five reasons that paid leave can be taken:

  1. a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents work;
  2. obtaining preventive medical care, or a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment, of any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  3. being a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or criminal harassment who needs leave for medical attention, mental health care or other counseling, victim services (including legal), or relocation; or
  4. care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, or who needs the sort of care listed in category (2) or (3);
  5. due to a public health emergency, a public official closed the employee’s (A) place of business or (B) child’s school or place of care, requiring the employee to care for the child.

What Documentation & Records do Employers Need?

If leave is four or more consecutive days, employers may require documentation to show that leave is for a purpose covered by the HFWA. For more information on the type of documentation, employers may require, see Interpretive Notice & Formal Opinion (“INFO”) # 6B. The HFWA requires employers to keep records on each employee for a two-year period showing hours worked, paid sick leave accrued, and paid sick leave used. Employers are required to notify employees in writing of their rights under the Act and display an informational division poster in a conspicuous and accessible place.

What This Means for Counties

Counties should inform employees of their rights under the HFWA and review their policies to ensure they are in compliance with the Act. Please note that the provisions in the HFWA that covered paid COVID-19 leave expired on December 31, 2020, but that the other provisions of the HFWA are still in effect. For more information, consult your county attorney or contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

Colorado passed SB20-205, also known as the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (Healthy Families Act), in July 2020. The Act made changes to Colorado’s paid sick leave statutes and provided for COVID-19-specific sick leave.

The Act consists of two COVID-19 related sections. First, it requires Colorado employers to comply with the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) signed into law as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which grants two weeks of paid sick leave for qualifying COVID-19-related events. The EPSLA applies only to private employers with less than 500 employees; however, the second part of the Colorado Healthy Families Act expands coverage of the EPSLA to Colorado employers of any size, as well as any Colorado employees not covered in the EPSLA, this includes governmental entities like counties. While the paid sick leave rights granted by the EPSLA expired on Dec. 31, 2020, the Healthy Families Act continues to be in effect, so Colorado employers must continue to grant paid leave for any of the qualifying reasons listed below: 

  1. Employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. Employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. Employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. Employee is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. Employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  6. Employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

Rate of Pay and Length of Leave

Under the Act, the rate of pay during sick leave and the length of the leave are determined by the reason for the leave. Employers must pay employees their regular pay rate if the employee is taking leave because the government (federal, state, or local) or a health care provider requires them to quarantine or if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting a diagnosis. The other three reasons for leave require employers to pay employees two-thirds of their regular pay rate. Paid sick leave can only be used for two weeks or 80 hours. COVID-19 leave begins anew for 2021.

What This Means for Counties

The Colorado Healthy Families Act requires all Colorado employers to provide up to two weeks of paid emergency sick leave and up to 10 weeks of paid expanded medical leave for employees unable to work due to a qualifying COVID-19-related event. Counties should review their sick-leave policies and consult with their county attorney to ensure that they comply with the Healthy Families Act. For more information, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.