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Technologies could blunt impact of car crashes

Many people in Pennsylvania may be interested in technologies that could improve driving safety. One company, ZF, is developing external airbags that cushion a car's exterior in case of a crash in order to reduce the risk of injury or death. Every year, thousands of people across the country lose their lives in car crashes, and technologies that could make these accidents less deadly are appealing to many. ZF is not the first company to develop external airbags, but the company released tests that claim injury severity could be reduced by 40 percent if the bags deploy.

While internal airbags are now a required safety feature, external airbags have faced a range of problems that have prevented them from moving forward into production. The airbags are designed to deploy on the vehicle's side in case of a car crash, forming a large pillow or cushion that blunts the blow from the oncoming vehicle in the case of a side-impact or T-bone crash. However, manufacturers must design the technology to function properly, opening when necessary and staying in place when not needed.

The dangers of diesel exhaust exposure

Many workers in Pennsylvania must deal with exposure to diesel exhaust. To help address the dangers of diesel exhaust exposure, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has published a fact sheet for employees in the oil and gas industry.

For starters, it's important to understand that short-term exposure to diesel exhaust can cause headaches and dizziness as well as eye, nose and throat irritation. Prolonged exposure increases the risk for cancer as well as heart and lung disease.

Attorney Gregory Stapp named to America’s Top 100 Lawyers

Twenty-two years ago, Gregory Andrew Stapp, the founding attorney of Stapp Law, LLC, began practicing law. His goal was to stand up for injured people who suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence. When he began his practice, he had no idea America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® would someday select him as a member.

This month, America’s Top 100 LLC selected him for this prestigious honor, which recognizes the nation’s most exceptional trial attorneys in high-stakes legal matters. The organization gives this honor to less than one-half percent of active attorneys in the nation.

CVSA sidelines nearly 5,000 trucks during Brake Safety Week

From September 16 to 22, 2018, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance hosted its annual Brake Safety Week. The results of that inspection spree are now out and should be of interest to truckers and truck fleet owners in Pennsylvania. In all, the CVSA stopped 35,080 commercial vehicles across the U.S. and Canada. A total of 4,955, or just over 14 percent of the vehicles, were put out of service.

Inspectors focused on the maintenance of antilock braking systems on those vehicles that require them. They cited 2,176 out of 26,143 air-braked power units (8.3 percent) for ABS violations. Out of 17,857 trailers inspected that require ABS, 2,224 (12.5 percent) had ABS violations. 234 out of 5,354 hydraulic-braked trucks (4.4 percent) that require ABS were found with violations as well.

OSHA's trenching and excavation NEP begins

Employers in Pennsylvania, especially those in construction, should know that OSHA has kicked off one of its National Emphasis Program, this time on trenching and excavation safety. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 130 fatalities in trenching and excavation operations between 2011 and 2016. Eighty percent occurred in the private construction industry.

Even more importantly, nearly half of these fatalities arose between 2015 and 2016, revealing an upward trend. It is largely in response to these figures that OSHA initiated its NEP. Starting October 1, 2018, OSHA's area and regional offices are providing outreach to employers who need help complying with current safety guidelines. These regulations are outlined in a Trenching and Excavation Quick Card.

Pennsylvania drivers: beware of upsurge in big rig accidents

Statistics for 2016 show that over 4,300 people died because of trucking accidents on the country's highways. Over the past 20 years, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended on 10 separate instances that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, needs to do something about requiring anti-crash technology on all big rig trucks. The trucking accident problem is an issue currently being discussed by some members of Congress.

At this time, large trucks are not required to have this relatively new anti-crash technology installed, even though the data from companies that do use crash avoidance equipment shows it could help stop many truck accidents. Some of the available technology includes automatic braking and forward collision preventatives. Industry lobbyists such as Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association do not necessarily want to see the technology required because of the cost but would like to see the decision left up to the discretion of the trucking companies.

Lockout/tagout can prevent serious workplace injuries

Workers in Pennsylvania who deal with machinery and electricity are often at a higher risk of a serious on-the-job injury. This is one reason why lockout and tagout, or LOTO, rules are a major priority for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. LOTO is used when a piece of equipment or a power supply needs to be maintained or service or when a guard or other type of safety device needs to be removed or bypassed to allow for repairs or other work. The safety procedure ensures that dangerous equipment is shut off and cannot be accidentally restarted; in many cases, visible red padlocks are used to designate a machine on LOTO.

The worker performing the service will hold the keys in order to be able to restart the machinery only when the service is complete. However, there are a number of specifics that apply to the standard, and compliance is critical for preventing dangerous workplace accidents. The consequences of failing to use a proper LOTO system can be devastating for workers or even fatal; when workers deal with electricity that is not properly turned off, they could face electrocution and severe burns.

Roadcheck inspections finds hours of service violations

Some Pennsylvania truck drivers may have had their vehicles inspected as part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's International Roadcheck event. The inspection was conducted in early June throughout North America.

Not as many drivers and vehicles were placed out of service as in 2017 even though there were more inspections. Common out-of-service violations for trucks were brake adjustment and systems along with tires and wheels. Drivers were taken out of service for false record of duty status, wrong class of license or hours of service violations. However, although hours of service was the focus of the inspection and over 40 percent of the drivers who were taken out of service were because of this type of violation, they represented only 2 percent of all drivers.

Common injuries to healthcare workers and their right to benefits

Healthcare workers are among the most generous employees. Risking their own health and safety to care for a victim of illness or injury involves great courage. When healthcare workers face illness or injury themselves, however, they may wish to obtain workers’ compensation.

If you work within the scope of your employment and conduct various activities required for your position, you may confront danger or be subjected to serious, contagious illnesses. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) works to provide ways to promote best practices for safely engaging in workplace activities. Yet sometimes, healthcare workers still come into contact with bodily harm. Workers’ compensation gives healthcare workers the opportunity to obtain reimbursement for medical costs of their work injuries or illnesses.

Department of Labor to expand jobs open to young workers

The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits workers who are 16 or 17 years old from doing certain jobs in Pennsylvania or anywhere else in the country. It allows exemptions for student learners and apprentices in some cases, but these young workers are generally not allowed to work in industries like coal mining and forest fire fighting. The Department of Labor, though, has stated that it plans to propose rulemaking that would expand the industries open to young workers.

A number of Democrats in the House of Representatives have expressed concerns about the DOL proposal. Forty-seven lawmakers signed a letter that was sent on Aug. 1 to the Secretary of Labor. They cited a study published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that showed a decline in workplace fatalities over the last 18 years for people aged 15 to 17. According to the letter, weakened protections for younger workers could reverse the progress represented by lowered fatalities and jeopardize safety and health in the workplace. They ask questions of the DOL regarding the scientific basis of the policy move.

Stapp Law, LLC - Workers Compensation

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