Image of City Manager Joe Lopez

City Manager's Blog

May 03

Modesto Takes Safety Seriously

Posted on May 3, 2019 at 4:17 PM by Thomas Reeves

The accidental death of an employee in April 2018 should never have occurred, and although the city had a safety program prior to the accident, the city took the opportunity to thoroughly review whether or not the safety program should be strengthened.  In fact, the City took the initiative several years ago to commence a study to identify the gaps in its program, and substantially updated the Injury & Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) as a result.  The City has instituted many of the recommendations within this report.

Prior to the incident, the city had a good track record of employee accidents, and much of this can be attributed to the dedication to our safety program. 

We all bear some level of responsibility for safety and training, and following the safety assessment, I ordered a myriad of improvements to our safety program, including instituting an official citywide safety program, which the city did not have before.  In addition, the IIPP was updated, and monthly safety meetings began; each division had a safety liaison that had required attendance.  We hired a consultant to assist with the implementation of safety programs and trainings, and specifically focused on the required trainings that were missing.  

Several years ago, training was decentralized across city departments out of necessity due to lack of staffing.  A 2012 safety assessment was conducted to ensure we were providing necessary trainings, and ensuring compliance with the various programs.  We subsequently updated the IIPP and instituted the monthly safety meetings to ensure the safety of our employees.  In addition to the IIPP, we also created the Exposure Control Program, Electrical Safety Program, and a Respiratory Protection Program.  

Safety should be prioritized at the top of the organization, and it will be.  Based on the findings of the recent Serious Accident Review Team (SART) investigation, I’ve authorized an additional investigation in order to ensure we continue to address deficiencies and make appropriate corrective actions.  

We are continuously trying to improve all processes, protocols, and trainings.  The city has invested in and prioritized safety training, and I will continue to advocate and cultivate a culture of safety.  

Click here for specific examples from Public Works, Utilities, and Parks.

There are departments, including Fire and Police, that invest heavily in training, personal protective gear, Standard Operating Procedures, and equipment.  There are complete teams of internal employees who participate in ensuring the safety of their coworkers.  

Total training hours for the fire department in the 2018 calendar year was 29,625 hours.  Each fire department employee is required to complete a minimum 20 hours of reportable training each month, a total of 240 hours per year.  

Total training hours for the police department in the 2018 calendar year was over 31,000.

Here is a look at funds the city spent with the contractor on previous safety program development and training:

 2012   $4,999.00
 2013  $30,221.25
 2014  $17,032.72
 2015  $23,085.00
 2016  $53,192.50
 2017  $46,271.25
 2018  $60,078.75
 TOTAL  $234,880.47
In just the next two years, it is anticipated the city will spend more than $600,000 on the safety program.  

Again, one of the biggest lessons learned for our safety program is that it must be centralized.  That is to say, there needs to be independent oversight and not individual programs based on department objectives.   We need an individual who has the autonomy and authority to intervene when proper protocols and requirements are not being followed, and that is what we now have with the Safety Officer and additional contract assistance.

The death of an employee was a tragic and pivotal incident in the life of our city, and we responded quickly – and will continue to respond – in order to ensure a similar accident never occurs.   

Let me be clear, again, this city will focus on doing everything possible to prioritize safety going forward.

Apr 12

Remembering Tyrone Hairston and SART Investigation

Posted on April 12, 2019 at 10:33 AM by Thomas Reeves

This week marks the anniversary of one of the most tragic events in the history of our organization.  One year ago, Tyrone Hairston died while engaged in the installation of a light pole along our city streets.  We lost a coworker and friend to many in the organization.

A year ago, I made a commitment to our employees that we would review the incident in great detail, seek outside professional expertise to provide recommendations for any needed changes to our safety program, and to ensure this type of accident does not happen again.

I am announcing the completion of the Serious Accident Review Team (SART) investigation.  As I committed to our team last April, I would share the findings upon completion, and have attached the final reports to this blog post for your information.  The reports identified significant safety issues, and the city is taking appropriate disciplinary actions in response to this report and the city’s internal investigation.

It’s critical that safety always remain our top priority, and I can report that steps have been taken to strengthen our safety program.  Although much work has been done, we will not let up until every employee feels safe.  
  • The city added a new Safety Officer position, who is responsible for the proactive coordination of the overall safety program, and ensuring that key safety communications, written programs, and safety trainings are updated and delivered.  
  • Safety procedures have been reviewed and enhanced.  For example, work crews must conduct pre-job hazard analyses and briefings to ensure proper identification of potential hazards, safe practices are in place, and proper selection and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is deployed.  
This week, our employees and members of the City Council took time to remember Tyrone on the anniversary of his passing.  I hope you, too, remember his life, and the importance of safety in the workplace.

Serious Accident Review Team Investigation Report - April 2019

Mar 28

February City Manager's Monthly Report Released

Posted on March 28, 2019 at 2:45 PM by Thomas Reeves

Council and Community:

It’s time for an update on the major efforts underway aimed at addressing the needs of our community. Our team is working hard on the Capital Improvement Program, and I encourage you to flip through the pages of this report for the status of projects that may be of interest to you.

Here’s a snapshot of accomplishments for the month of February:
  • In the Financial Report, you will see that the city has received $10.65 million in General Fund revenues for February. These revenues were received mainly in the areas of Sales Tax ($2.66M), Business License/Mill Tax ($2.25M), and Utility Users Tax ($1.18M). To date the General Fund has received approximately 55.6% of the total budgeted revenues for Fiscal Year 2018-19. The city has expended $8.3 million in General Fund dollars, which represents approximately 6.0% of the total FY 2018-19 Operating Budget. To date, there have been total expenditures of $85.97 million. The financial report can be found on page 3.
  • For Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhoods and the John Thurman Field Capital Improvements, much work was accomplished on the replacement of 1,000 upper box seats, and the replacement of the score board – page 14.
  • In the Utilities Department, significant work was accomplished on the Del Rio Tank 14, Well 68, and Pump Station project despite the inclement weather. In addition to replacing an existing irrigation pipeline, rough grading for the tank site was complete – more on page 16. For the Amtrak North Parking Lot Project, pre-construction activities began corresponding to the “Notice To Proceed” issued this month – more on page 19.
As always, please let me know if you have any suggestions on sharing this material with the community.

I look forward to seeing the great work of our teams in the month of March.

Click for the full February City Manager's Update