Edwards & Kautz
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Paducah Legal Issues Blog

Doubling of trench deaths prompts OSHA efforts

For many types of construction activities, from pipelines to building construction, workers are required to spend time in trenches. Kentucky workers should know the risks associated with working in a trench, and the federal government is making efforts to increase awareness of the dangers. Too often, safety measures are disregarded in the interest of time, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration hopes increased awareness will bring greater levels of compliance regarding workplace safety protocols related to working in trenches.

OSHA has set out specific safety measures for job sites including trench work. A trench is defined by the federal agency as any excavated workspace less than 15 feet wide that has a depth greater than its width. A cubic foot of soil can weigh up to 3,000 pounds, which puts workers at tremendous risk of injury when safety measures are not followed. During 2016, the most recent period for which data is available, OSHA says trench-related deaths doubled from the previous year. In an effort to reduce that number, the agency is sponsoring an information campaign designed to educate construction companies and job site supervisors regarding safety measures and potential penalties for noncompliance, which include heavy fines and shutting down construction sites.

Road construction safety tips for drivers

It’s that time of year again; roads are closing and undergoing construction. To most drivers, the start of roadwork season means longer commutes, confusing detours and navigating around traffic cones. However, these changes can also raise the risk of suffering a crash.

Although many Kentucky residents may believe that construction workers face the greater danger, data shows that drivers and their passengers accounted for 11 out of 12 total roadwork fatalities in 2017. As a motorist, you can’t control road construction, but there are ways that you can stay safe in these particularly dangerous situations.

Defining distracted driving and how to prevent it

Although many Kentucky drivers are aware that distracted driving is hazardous and can result in car accidents. However, some drivers may not be aware that distracted driving was a factor in 3,477 car accident fatalities in 2015 alone. By understanding exactly what distracted driving is and how to eliminate it.

Distracted driving is defined as any action that takes the driver's attention away from the road in front of them. These actions include talking on the phone, texting, using the vehicle's entertainment system and even talking to other passengers in the car. Texting is considered to be one of the most dangerous activities as it can divert the driver's eyes from the road for five or more seconds, meaning the driver may drive an entire length of a football field without looking at the road if the vehicle is traveling 55 miles per hour.

Study links noise at work to heart disease

Kentucky residents who work in noisy environments might experience difficulty concentrating and completing tasks. However, a new study has found that a loud workplace could also be harmful to one's health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study shows that working in a noisy environment could be linked to high blood pressure and high cholesterol

Medical professionals have known that noise can affect someone's health in various ways for some time. In addition to hearing loss, exposure to noise can decrease cognitive function, cause sleep problems and trigger migraines or increasingly painful headaches. A study in 2015 found a connection between workplace noise and heart disease, particularly in people who had already suffered high-frequency hearing loss from exposure to noise.

The common factors behind highway deaths

Highways are all too often the scenes of car accidents, and they can be fatal. Drivers in Kentucky will want to know what factors are usually behind these accidents in order to avoid them. For example, civil engineers sometimes have to design highways with tight corners and narrow shoulders. Drivers may also face blind intersections that require drivers to exercise caution.

Road conditions are another common factor as rain and snow can make pavement wet and cause careless drivers to lose control. Rain and snow will also obscure the visibility of the vehicles in front. Drivers can, of course, endanger themselves without any help from the roads and the weather. Negligent driving can encompass everything from distracted behavior to intoxicated driving.

Diagnostic errors are the top reason for malpractice claims

Kentucky patients rely on their doctors to provide skilled medical care. But being human, doctors sometimes make mistakes. When it comes to medical malpractice claims, a report reveals that diagnostic errors are the number one cause. And the incidence of diagnostic errors remains high, though other types of medical malpractice claims have decreased, according to an author of the study.

The study examined more than 10,000 medical malpractices claims that were filed between 2013 and 2017. Diagnostic errors accounted for 33 percent of the claims. Surgical or procedural mistakes represented 24 percent of the claims, and medical management claims were the third most common type at 14 percent.

Driving safely after Daylight Saving Time

Drivers in Kentucky should be very careful on the road after setting their clocks one hour ahead for Daylight Saving Time. Due to the loss of sleep that occurs as a result of skipping ahead one hour, drivers have an increased risk of being involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident. According to a traffic study conducted by AAA, drowsy driving contributes to almost 10 percent of all motor vehicle crashes.

Another issue for concern is that the roads may not look the same to the drivers. Following the time change, morning commute hours will be much darker. There is also an issue of being temporarily blinded or distracted by glares as the sun rises. Drivers can lessen the effects of glares by using their visors or wearing polarized eyeglasses.

Self-monitoring programs found to be inefficient

Kentucky workers wishing for safer workplaces may be interested in learning about the testimony a former OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) head recently gave before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, which concerned the manner in which the nation's premier workplace safety watchdog ensures regulatory compliance. David Michaels was the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health from 2009 until 2017.

Michaels, who is now a university professor, was asked to testify before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections regarding the effectiveness of OSHA's Volunteer Protection Programs (VPP), which allow some employers with exceptional safety and compliance histories to self-monitor their workplace safety protocols and regulatory compliance. According to Michaels, the VPP enrollment procedure calls for an outsized manpower commitment as eligible employers must be vetted with wall-to-wall inspections prior to being allowed to self-monitor. Since the self-monitoring program, which was initially implemented in 2002, is only available to employers with already exceptional safety records, Michaels believes the manpower dedicated to pre-enrollment inspections could be better used on monitoring facilities with more checkered safety records. Michaels further testified that budget restrictions required his team to focus on the re-certification of existing VPP facilities rather than expansion of the program, which limited its implementation.

Driving while using smartphone? A terrible, unsafe idea

Has driving become a distraction for people who insist on keeping in touch with friends via smartphones? Let’s hope not, but sometimes it makes us wonder as we discover that more and more people – not just teenagers – continue to drive neighborhood streets and highways with smartphone in hand ready to respond to text messages and emails or browse social media.

Distracted driving is more than a nuisance. It can lead to tragedy. Last year, a 20-year-old man was indicted on numerous charges including manslaughter for causing a vehicle crash in Texas that killed 13 people on a minibus returning from a church retreat. The man – Jack Young – told authorities he was checking his phone for a text when the crash occurred near San Antonio.

Double-checking your child's car seat could save their life

Proper car seat installation and use makes all the difference

A parent's worst nightmare can be that their child is injured. If you're a parent you know that some injuries are unintentional and unavoidable.

Unfortunately some parents' worst nightmare comes true in car accidents. According to The Journal of Pediatrics the most common cause of death in children is an unintentional injury. The most common unintentional injuries are caused by car crashes.

As a parent you can't predict when a car crash will occur. However you can take preventative steps to ensure that your child is safe if they are ever involved in one.

Here are some car seat safety tips to reduce injury if your child is involved in a motor vehicle accident.

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Edwards & Kautz

Edwards & Kautz
222 Walter Jetton Blvd
Paducah, KY 42003

Phone: 270-908-4914
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