Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

Connecticut Legal Blog

Kobe Bryant's widow has filed a wrongful death lawsuit

Many basketball fans in Connecticut fans were saddened when they learned that former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was killed along with his daughter and seven other people in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles County on Jan. 26. The entourage was traveling to a youth basketball game that Bryant's daughter was scheduled to play in. On Feb. 24, Bryant's widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles against the company that operated the helicopter. She is seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages.

The crash took place on a hillside in Calabasas during a period of unusually foggy weather. The crash also took the life of the pilot, and the lawsuit states that Island Express Helicopters should be held vicariously liable due to its status as the employer of the deceased pilot. The lawsuit also alleges that the company was only allowed to have the helicopter operate under visual flight rules and that it was not certified for instrument flight rules.

Supervisors are the key to safety on construction sites

Construction workers in Connecticut and throughout the nation may face a variety of hazards while on the job. Therefore, it is important to have a safety plan that mitigates as many different ones as possible. According to a report from Dodge Data & Analytics, 73% of respondents said that supervisors were responsible for training their workers. Furthermore, 83% of respondents said that supervisors that had strong safety skills were one of the pillars of a good safety plan.

The other elements of a quality safety plan included worker participation, safety meetings with workers and ongoing training for both supervisors and workers. Regular safety audits, safety meetings at the corporate level and dedicated safety staff were also considered to be important. The Dodge survey revealed that workers should be a larger part of the safety planning process. It also found that small employers could benefit by having training programs available for all employees and subcontractors.

NIOSH makes recommendations for improving IEQ

Indoor environmental quality is a term that construction employers in Connecticut are no doubt familiar with. Whether one is overseeing a building, renovation or demolition project, it's essential that the workers and building occupants be protected from dust, gases, organic vapors and other pollutants. To help employers maintain good IEQ, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has come up with a list of recommendations to follow.

For instance, employers should have controls in place to limit exposure to contaminants like the ones mentioned above. Being exposed to these can result in symptoms like headaches, fatigue, nausea and eye and throat irritation.

OSHA violations that are common in the craft beer industry

Craft brewery owners in Connecticut should know what are the most common OSHA violations in their industry; that way, they can take steps to ensure a safer workplace. There are six to keep in mind, the first being the violation of OSHA's standard regarding permit-required confined spaces. Many breweries have employees work in these spaces when they are not, in reality, designed for continuous occupancy.

A second common violation is against the General Duty Clause, which states that employers must keep the workplace free of recognized hazards. Among these hazards can be included heavy kegs and sacks of grain. Without proper training, employees can suffer ergonomic injuries lifting these.

New Volvo device will detect drunk driving and intervene

Connecticut drivers should know that drunk driving is the leading cause of motor vehicle crash fatalities in the U.S. It has been so for a century now, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that around 11,000 people die as a result of drunk driving every year. While there are vehicle systems available to detect alcohol intoxication, they are not yet mainstream.

There are, of course, ignition interlock devices, which are in-car breath tests. Thirty-four states require these in the cars of DUI offenders. There are also systems that detect lane drifting and other unsafe behaviors. Some in-car technology can react to such situations by slowing the car down for the driver. However, it is Volvo that will take these various features and combine them into one device for monitoring and intervening against drunk driving.

OSHA updates amputation safety rules

Beginning on March 10, 2020, OSHA will begin a three-week period of education on a National Emphasis Program regarding amputations in the workplace. OSHA will also be reaching out to employers who need guidance on meeting the standards for machine guarding and maintenance. Many employers in Connecticut know, after all, that amputations often occur in machinery accidents.

The last time a National Emphasis Program was held for amputations was in 2015. The 2020 program updates the guidance but does not add any obligations for employers. It includes, for example, new coding requirements for amputation inspections and gives revised information on the targeting methodology for amputations. The OSHA information system offers a new appendix regarding codes in the North American Industry Classification System.

Drowsy drivers cause at least 6,400 fatal accidents each year

Drowsy driving causes more than 300,000 motor vehicle accidents in Connecticut and around the country each year, according to the American Automobile Association. The results of a recent American Academy of Sleep Medicine study suggest that the problem is extremely widespread. A worrying 45% of the 2,000 motorists surveyed said that they had struggled to remain awake behind the wheel at least once. The study was conducted between Sept. 17 and Sept. 20.

Most drivers understand that fatigue causes impairment in much the same way as alcohol, but they choose to take the risks anyway. Drowsy drivers are involved in about 6,400 fatal car accidents every year, and all of these deadly crashes are preventable. Many road safety experts believe that fatigue is an underreported problem and the true drowsy driving death toll could be even higher than government statistics indicate.

Worker injuries spike at Amazon warehouses during holiday season

Online shoppers in Connecticut and nationwide place many orders at Amazon during the holidays, and the extra workload appears to translate into more injuries among warehouse workers. News organizations that investigated injury rates at the online retailer's warehouses identified an increase in worker injuries in the weeks around Black Friday 2018 according to Amazon's records. Investigators concluded that seasonal temporary workers unfamiliar with warehouse conditions and mandatory 12-hour shifts reduced workplace safety.

Journalists also found disturbing evidence suggesting that the company had actively suppressed injury reports prior to 2016. Statements from three former safety managers at Amazon described orders from upper management that directed them to find reasons to avoid recording injuries. Amazon denies that the company ever had such a policy although it updated its policy in 2016 to require the reporting of all injuries.

Distracted driving includes activities other than cellphone use

According to data published by the National Safety Council, at least 100 people are injured and nine people killed every day in distracted driving car accidents. Drivers in Connecticut should be aware of the dangers that distracted drivers pose, and they may also benefit from learning about certain artificial intelligence measures that can help to reduce the amount of distracted driving. The most common distracted driving activity is cellphone use, including talking on the phone, texting and surfing the web while driving.

There are many other activities, though, that fall into the category of distracted driving. Rubbernecking at accidents on the road, for example, or conversing with passengers in the vehicle are both dangerous because they take the driver's attention away from the task of driving. Distracted driving has become so prevalent that it is nearly equal with drunk driving in terms of its negative economic impact. Distracted driving costs Americans $40 million each year; drunk driving costs Americans $44 million.

Change to standard time may lead to drowsy driving

With the end of daylight saving time, Connecticut residents get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep, but there is a downside. The body will not be able to adjust at first to the change in sleep patterns, which means that feelings of drowsiness will appear for at least a couple days after the change. This can spell trouble when residents go out on the road.

Every year in the U.S., there are roughly 328,000 drowsy driving-related car crashes. According to the National Sleep Foundation, these crashes result in some 6,400 fatalities and 50,000 debilitating injuries each year.

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