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Pittsburgh Personal Injury Law Blog

Using convex mirrors to increase workplace safety

For Pennsylvania workers who work on loading docks, in fulfillment warehouses or around heavy machinery, near misses and close calls can be common. However, it also common for some to suffer serious injuries due to running into each other. Even near misses can also result in serious injuries if employees are carrying chemicals, products or production items and they drop them.

Although warehouses and loading docks often have safety equipment and procedures to help prevent injuries, safety mirrors and domes can also be used to prevent collisions. These safety mirrors are usually weatherproof, shatter-resistant and can be customized to fit the work space. However, choosing the right convex mirrors can be difficult as employers have to take into considerations the traffic flow, how the warehouse aisles intersect, the surfaces the mirrors will be mounted to and other safety needs the workplace has.

Congress pushes FMCSA for sleep apnea screening rules

Back in 2016, through the efforts of Democrats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began working on a rule that would set up criteria by which medical examiners could refer truck drivers for a sleep apnea test. However, in August of 2017, the FMCSA officially announced that it had tabled the rule. Whether the decision will remain final is an issue that can affect many in Pennsylvania and across the U.S.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a major cause of road accidents, and there is much confusion due to the existence of several screening protocols. Many drivers have complained of unwarranted referrals, and some have begun to suspect that their doctors, together with sleep apnea testing companies and treatment device manufacturers, are taking advantage of a gray area in regulation.

The pitfalls of new car technology

According to a AAA survey, 70 percent of Americans desire new technology in their cars, but only 24 percent feel that the technology already works perfectly. This is partly due to poor design choices on the part of car manufacturers. Another reason is that technology has unnecessarily complicated some of the simplest tasks. Irrelevant features are also of concern, as they they can be distracting. Pennsylvania motorists should be aware that distracted driving often leads to accidents.

Researchers from the University of Utah have conducted a study for the AAA on how distracting in-car entertainment can be. The participants, aged 21 to 36, were placed in a series of new 2017 vehicles and asked to try out different in-car entertainment systems, using voice commands, touch screens, and navigation tools. They were also asked to make calls, send texts, and change radio stations.

Getting safety information to all employees

Many Pennsylvania workers are painfully aware that retiring at the age of 60 or 65 is no longer attainable. Because the retirement age is being pushed back, it is not uncommon for employers to have workers who are 70 to 75 years old, even in labor-intensive industrial jobs. This can make it difficult for safety professionals to ensure that workplace safety messages are delivered to every employee regardless of age.

They should ensure that safety information is presented to the audience in a way that makes sense. This means using language that the employees understand and customizing training as much as possible. For example, some older employees may not be as comfortable with certain forms of technology, so safety information should be sent to employees using a variety of communication options.

Navigating safely around large commercial vehicles

Many Pennsylvania drivers become tense when in close proximity to semi-tractor trailers, and these stresses can sometimes become overwhelming when road conditions are poor and traffic is heavy. While navigating around large commercial vehicles may never bring joy to nervous motorists, these stresses can be reduced and controlled by understanding the dangers involved and taking appropriate steps to mitigate them.

Remaining vigilant and taking care when driving close to commercial vehicles is prudent because government crash statistics reveal that most of the road users killed in big rig accidents are passenger vehicle occupants. Semi-tractor trailers have far larger blind spots than cars or SUVs, and motorists should assume that if they cannot see a truck driver it means that the truck driver cannot see them. Semis also take far longer to stop than cars, and drivers should bear this in mind and leave plenty of space when attempting passing maneuvers.

Leading safety violations according to OSHA

Construction workers in Pennsylvania should know that falls are the top cause of accidental fatalities at their jobs. In 2015, 350 of the 937 on-the-job fatalities that occurred at such workplaces around the country were the result of falls.

According to the National Safety Council, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists falls as the leading workplace safety violations in 2017. In order to improve the situation, OSHA has begun issuing substantial fines for specific types of violations, such as instances of repeat violations.

Why size matters in a car accident

Pennsylvania drivers may think that a smaller car is safe because it performed well in crash tests. However, smaller cars are generally less safe than larger cars when an actual collision occurs. This is because smaller cars tend to weigh less, which means that they will absorb more of the impact when they collide with larger vehicles. They also have smaller front ends compared to larger cars.

Therefore, those who are in a larger and heavier car are more likely to walk away from an accident compared to those in a smaller car. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, smaller cars have a fatality rate twice that of larger vehicles. It is important for those who are interested in smaller cars to understand how those tests were conducted. For instance, cars are judged based on how well they handle collisions with cars of a similar size and weight.

Car accident fatality risk is three times higher at night

Nighttime driving in Pennsylvania is more hazardous than venturing out during the day for a number of reasons. Road construction crews often work at night to prevent disruption to the morning and afternoon rush hours, and the number of drunk drivers surges after the sun goes down. The dangers of these additional hazards are magnified by limited visibility.

Not only does decreased visibility make it more difficult for motorists to see other road users and hazards in the roadway, but it also makes it harder for them to gauge distances accurately. Road safety experts say that the best way to mitigate these nighttime driving risks is to reduce speed, remain vigilant, maintain safe distances and leave ample space for other motorists. Those who find driving at night especially difficult may wish to ask their physicians to test them for nyctalopia, which is also known as night blindness. While there is no cure for the condition, modern medicine can make living with it more bearable.

Preventing falls from elevated heights in warehouses

Many people are employed in Pennsylvania warehouses that have materials stacked on elevated shelves. A case reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration illustrates the dangers of failing to implement and follow safety protocols for working at elevations.

According to OSHA, a worker in a warehouse was stacking items on an elevated shelf about 7 feet above the concrete floor. He was standing on a pallet that was elevated by a forklift, which is not an appropriate use of either a forklift or a pallet. The worker slipped on the pallet and fell to the floor. He succumbed to his injuries within a few days.

Car accidents often occur close to home

While there are risks throughout all Pennsylvania roads, drivers are most likely to get into accidents during short trips within 25 miles of their homes. This is because most driving occurs within 25 miles of one's property. People may also be lulled into a false sense of security when they drive in familiar settings such as their neighborhoods.

When a driver is in familiar surroundings, he or she may be likely to rely on muscle memory as opposed to proper driving technique. Doing so could be dangerous as it is impossible to predict whether a child or an animal will run into the road. A driver may also not be prepared for the actions of another driver or a mechanical failure to occur suddenly.