Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

Connecticut Legal Blog

An important message about distracted driving

According to the NHTSA, there were 3,477 deaths attributed to distracted driving in Connecticut and throughout America in 2015. Distracted driving occurs when a driver is doing anything that takes his or her focus from the road. This could include eating while driving, talking with a passenger or changing a radio station. Sending text messages is another dangerous and common way in which drivers can be distracted.

While it only takes about five seconds to send a text, vehicles traveling at 55 miles per hour can cover the length of a football field in that amount of time. Roughly 660,000 drivers use their phones during the day according to NHTSA data. Teenagers are the age group most likely to be using a phone to send text messages or for other purposes. However, there are ways to help curb distracted driving before it results in another injury or death on America's roads.

Construction workers face dangers in trenches

Construction workers in Connecticut often face dangerous work on the job that can be an inherent part of dealing with shifting earth, unfinished structures, heavy machinery and physical labor. However, on far too many job sites, the health and safety of workers can be compromised by a failure to implement proper safety protocols and follow federal regulations. One of the most dangerous areas of work in the construction industry involves dealing with trenches and excavations, caverns or depressions created in the ground through the removal of large amounts of earth, stone or other materials.

Because trenches and excavations are underground and created by removing tons of soil or rock, they are at a particular risk for dangerous workplace accidents like collapses, cave-ins and falls. Since 2011, approximately two construction workers have been killed on a monthly basis due to collapsing trenches or cave-ins. However, in 2016, the number of fatalities for construction workers doubled over the average that had remained steady for the previous five years.

Theater alliance seeks to avoid workplace accidents

While the entertainment industry is known for glamour and excitement, entertainment workers in Connecticut and across the country can deal with many dangers in the workplace. Common sources of on-the-job injuries include falls and electrical dangers as well as issues caused by poor ergonomics. That's why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will renew its alliance with entertainment industry groups in order to help promote safer workplaces.

The alliance, which was renewed for five years, partners OSHA with the United States Institute for Theatre Technology and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The three organizations involved will share relevant resources and information in order to help prevent workplace accidents and injuries in the entertainment industry. While OSHA will share information with the industry groups about relevant standards for safety, the industry and union representatives will also provide additional details about safety technologies for portable power and fall prevention.

Black lung threatens increasing number of coal miners

Although Connecticut has little or no history of coal mining, black lung is a frightening disease for anyone who has worked in a coal mine. This devastating occupational disease had appeared to be dying out by the end of the 20th century. At that time, there were only 31 cases of the most severe form of the disease reported to researchers and new cases of black lung had reached a historical low number. However, as the 21st century progresses, it is clear that far from being eliminated, black lung is perhaps a greater threat to workers' health than ever before.

A cluster of 416 cases of complicated black lung, the most severe disease form, was reported at three clinics between 2013 and 2017. The director of those clinics contacted epidemiologists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health after seeing the dangerous spike in occupational disease cases. Their findings reflect the largest cluster of black lung cases ever studied.

Self-driving technology can make roads safer today

For people in Connecticut and across the United States, autonomous vehicles can seem like an exciting technology for all the possibilities they offer. Not only could they potentially cut down on the daily annoyances of commutes and traffic jams, but self-driving cars could be a major boon for roadway safety. A great deal of writing and reporting on automobiles today is focusing on the potentials of the future development of fully autonomous vehicles.

Fully self-driving vehicles remain a technology that is still years into the future, but there are a number of serious projects being pursued by automakers and technology companies to make those dreams a reality as soon as possible. For these types of vehicles to move onto the streets, however, a full framework of regulations, insurance standards and other guidelines will need to go into effect.

The NHTSA to discuss drugged driving

Connecticut motorists may be pleased to learn about the steps that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking to stop people who get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs. In part because of the legalization of marijuana and the rampant opioid use in the United States, there is a urgency to address the increase in drugged driving accidents.

The NHTSA is hosting a conference on March 15, 2018, to start a national conversation. The event is part of the agency's effort to create innovative solutions to enhance safety and lower the number of deaths that result from motor vehicle accidents.

OSHA sees staff reduction under Trump administration

Workers in Connecticut are protected by federal laws that require employers to provide safe working conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration oversees this aspect of the law, but the agency has seen a potentially troublesome reduction in staff since President Trump took office.

After Trump became president, OSHA lost 40 inspectors through attrition. As of October 2, 2017, none of those vacancies was filled. Trump vowed to reduce federal bureaucracy, and some say the reduced OSHA staff is partly due to that. OSHA is not the only federal agency with unfilled vacancies under the current administration, but it says that it needs more staff to be able to keep America's workplaces safe.

OSHA gives advice on safe snow removal

Connecticut winters can be harsh, and unfortunately, many people injure themselves in the process of removing snow. Seeing that this is a nationwide issue, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has given some advice on how workers can safely remove snow.

In recent years, OSHA has seen a rise in the number of fall-related injuries and deaths, with many neglecting the organization's fall protection guidelines. Over the past decade, it has investigated 16 cases of workers being injured or killed while removing snow from roofs and other elevated surfaces.

Roundabouts can significantly reduce accident fatalities

Replacing busy intersections with roundabouts could potentially save lives in Connecticut and around the country according to the findings contained in a report. The Minnesota Department of Transportation studied traffic accidents that took place at 144 intersections both before and after traffic lights were replaced by roundabouts, and they found that fatalities plunged by 86 percent when drivers were forced to slow down and all travel in the same direction.

Roundabouts come close to eliminating T-bone accidents that involve the front of one car colliding with the side of another, and this is why traffic planners and road safety advocates have long called for them to become more familiar sights across the country. However, roundabouts are confusing to motorists not familiar with them, and they are difficult to navigate for tractor-trailer drivers. They have also been criticized for increasing pedestrian accidents and injuries.

OSHA releases list of top 10 fiscal 2017 violations

Connecticut employers should know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released its annual list of the top 10 workplace safety violations. This one covers the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2017. The violations are, for the most part, the same as in previous years, but some are new to the list and may require much critical thinking on the part of businesses.

Topping the list are violations of fall protection safety requirements. For example, work areas that are elevated a certain number of feet from the ground must be provided with protection equipment like rails and safety nets, and workers may be required to wear safety harnesses and lines. Failure to follow these and other instructions led to over 6,000 citations.

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