Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

Connecticut Legal Blog

Construction work in the summer: the top dangers

To create safer job sites, it's important for construction workers and employers in Connecticut to understand the dangers of working outdoors during summer. The top five hazards are fatigue, heat-related illness, dehydration, sun exposure and cars in roadside construction zones.

Heat-related illnesses include heat rash and heatstroke. Extended sun exposure can lead to sunburns in the short term and skin cancer in the long run. Of course, extreme heat will also lead to more fatigue. This can make workers listless, slow to react and more prone to bad judgments. Roadside construction zones are often deadly, with NIOSH stating that nearly 100 workers die every year in them.

July Fourth tops holidays for number of drunk driving deaths

The Fourth of July tops all the other major holidays in the U.S. when it comes to the number of drunk driving fatalities. Connecticut residents may also be intrigued to hear that the DUI fatality rate fluctuates based on what day the holiday falls on. Researchers from ValuePenguin have gathered data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to come to these conclusions.

NHTSA reported 1,192 DUI fatalities on the Fourth of July between 2010 and 2017. The fatality rate was calculated as 42.4 deaths per day. Following this was Memorial Day with a total of 1,105 deaths during that same period and a fatality rate of 39.5. Labor Day was third with a rate of 38.1.

Limits and rules for wrongful death claims

In Connecticut and other states, people only have a certain amount of time to take legal action related to wrongful death. When this time period runs out, the party loses the right to file a lawsuit. This legal rule is known as the statute of limitations. The timer on the statute of limitations begins when the person bringing suit learns about the wrongful death or when a court determines that they should have reasonably learned about the cause of death.

Other factors can also limit the amount of time a decedent can sue for wrongful death. In some jurisdictions, claims involving product liability may be limited starting at the date of death regardless of when the cause of death was discovered. The decedent may even be barred from filing a claim at all if the product has reached a certain age. Limitations also arise in cases where wrongful death claims stem from personal injury cases.

Summer presents teen drivers with "100 deadliest days"

Residents of Connecticut may be wondering if there is a time of the year when teen drivers are at a particularly high risk for a car crash. That time happens to be the summer since teens, being on summer vacation, are out on the road more, and more drivers are liable to become impaired after parties, such as those during the Fourth of July celebrations.

To be more specific, the 100 days between Memorial Day, which marks the unofficial start of summer, and Labor Day are considered the worst of the whole year for teen drivers. This is according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA states that the risk for a fatal car crash involving a teen driver goes up 15%, on average, during this period.

Injury risk rises for inexperienced miners working long hours

Mining activities in Connecticut present many workplace hazards due to the nature of the job. A new research study that analyzed over 500,000 injury reports from the Mine Safety and Health Administration concluded that long work hours and employees with limited experience exacerbated the risks to extraction workers.

University researchers studied reports spanning the years 1983 to 2015. Injured employees working shifts of nine hours or longer accounted for 9.6% of accident injuries. In 1983, the rate of accidents for people clocked in for at least nine hours was 5.5%. By 2015, workers on long shifts sustained 13.9% of the injuries. The chances of dying on the job increased by 32% for workers on these long shifts. Additionally, people working long hours were associated with a 73% greater chance of involvement in accidents that resulted in injuries.

Memes, other social media a frequent distraction for drivers

Drivers in Connecticut and across the U.S. are using their phones and other mobile devices more. Though most drivers acknowledge the danger of being distracted behind the wheel, they engage in it anyway. This appears to be one finding of an online study from the market research firm Wakefield Research. Nearly 2,000 U.S. drivers responded to it; below are some of the results.

Of those surveyed, 99% ranked phone use among the top three distractions for a driver. Almost half said that distracted driving is their top concern on the road. The majority were critical of other drivers who drove distracted with 89% saying they would leave a bad rating on ride-hailing drivers who text behind the wheel.

Study finds U.S. drivers are distracted by cellphones

Almost half of drivers in Connecticut and around the U.S. say that distracted driving is their top worry when behind the wheel, according to a study. It was conducted by Wakefield Research and Root Insurance, which offers rate discounts to drivers who don't use their cellphones while operating their vehicles.

The study found that 47 percent of motorists say that distracted driving is their top road safety concern and 99 percent believe cellphones are one of the top three causes of it. However, the participants spent an average of 13 minutes per day using cellphones or other devices while behind the wheel. That amounts to 91 minutes each week. In addition, 38 percent of people who use their cellphones while driving don't put the devices down when they see police officers.

Weather Channel sued over fatal collision with storm chasers

Connecticut residents who watch the Weather Channel may know about the show "Storm Wranglers." On March 28, 2017, the two stars of that show died as they were chasing a tornado near the city of Spur, Texas. It appears that they were speeding down the highway and ran a stop sign, colliding with a jeep driven by a 25-year-old storm spotter for the National Weather Service. All three died on impact.

Now, the mother of the 25-year-old victim is suing the Weather Channel for $125 million in damages, claiming that the network did nothing about the two stars' long history of reckless driving. The network may even have been encouraging the storm-chasing duo to act recklessly for the sake of more exciting footage.

Back pain in farm work linked to machine vibration

Some agricultural workers in Connecticut use heavy equipment and machinery in their normal daily work. While accidents can cause serious injury and death, even the normal everyday operation of some farm equipment can cause chronic issues like back pain. A recent study shows that the vibration of many types of farm machinery can cause health concerns for workers, even though OSHA does not have any standards regarding this issue.

The study performed by NIOSH examined the vibration levels on 112 pieces of farm machinery, including tractors, forklifts, combines, ATVs and skid loaders. In the absence of an OSHA standard, the researchers measured the vibration level against the European Union's action level on exposure. More than half of the machines tested met the action level within eight hours of use. This action level is defined as when there's an increased risk of health effects. On 30 percent of the equipment, operators endured whole-body vibration at the action level within two hours of use.

Tesla's safety record called into question

Connecticut residents may enjoy driving their Tesla vehicles or otherwise approve of the company's efforts. The company is based in Fremont, California, which is unusual because most car companies tend to operate in rural states. It also has 15,000 employees and contractors, which is more than other manufacturers that build cars in the United States. Therefore, it may not be a surprise that Tesla has had more OSHA violations than the competition.

Between the years 2014 and 2018, Tesla had three times as many OSHA violations than the next 10 competitors combined. Overall, it was hit with 54 violations in that span, and they resulted in fines of $236,730. However, the company is disputing some of those fines, which may mean that the actual amount paid could be higher or lower. In addition to the 48 violations in California, there were another 27 violations that occurred in other locations throughout the country.

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