U.S. leads wealthy countries in traffic deaths

Tennessee drivers may be under the impression that U.S. roadways are safer than those of other countries. However, a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the U.S. has a reduced its car accident fatality rate far less than 19 other wealthy nations.

According to the report, which was released July 6, the U.S. has reduced its vehicle accident death rate by 31 percent over the past 13 years. That is good news, but 19 other wealthy countries have done much better over the same period of time, averaging a decline of 56 percent. Spain's death rate has plummeted by a remarkable 75.1 percent, and Denmark's rate has dropped by 63.5 percent. The U.S. has seen the slowest rate of reduction. The CDC reports that another 18,000 American lives could have been avoided if the U.S. had matched the death rate reduction average of other wealthy countries.

Regulators strive to control product safety problems

Whether they're buying food or an automobile, every consumer in Tennessee depends on manufacturers to produce safe products. Many laws and standards developed by public and private entities seek to ensure safety. However, safety issues persist across many industries.

In 2015, the automotive industry experienced a record-breaking number of recalls. Various automakers had to recall 51 million vehicles. The food industry is another source of danger for consumers. Data collected by researchers in Switzerland revealed that food recalls had doubled around the world since 2002.

Tractor-trailer advances could reduce crashes in Tennessee

Emergency braking technology in tractor-trailer trucks may be taking a major step forward with the Evasive Maneuver Assist. Unveiled by manufacturers ZF and WABCO on June 28, the system is designed to take control of a truck and steer it around a stopped vehicle if it cannot brake fast enough. EMA is scheduled to be ready for use in three to four years.

The technology is a combination of the ReAX steering system made by ZF and the ONGuard braking system used by WABCO. EMA uses radar to detect vehicles on the road and a variety of signals to alert a driver that a crash may be imminent. If a driver doesn't take action after being alerted to an oncoming vehicle, the braking system will take over.

What benefits are injured employees supposed to receive?

Workers in Tennessee who suffer injuries in the workplace may be eligible to collect workers' compensation benefits. First, however, their injuries must be compensable, which means that authorized physicians have to determine that the injuries were related to their job. Employers are responsible for providing injured workers a list of at least three doctors who practice nearby and are willing to provide treatment involving workers' compensation cases.

The first benefit that injured employees could be entitled to is reimbursement for medical treatment provided by authorized physicians. Employees who have to travel more than 15 miles to receive care may request reimbursement for mileage as well.

Health care workers face many workplace hazards

People employed in the health care industry in Tennessee, especially those who directly deliver patient care, experience a very high rate of workplace injury and illness. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has calculated that patient caregivers are injured at nearly double the rate of construction workers.

Safety experts have also identified outright violence in the workplace as a threat. Of the over 18 million people employed in the health care sector, the overwhelming majority are female. Women are more vulnerable to attacks from patients, visitors and co-workers, especially when they are in remote areas of a large building or when staff levels are low.

Significant increase in auto recalls for software problems

Tennessee motorists may find that modern vehicle systems offer convenience and safety with features such as hands-free calling, emergency diagnostics, and onboard Internet access. However, features based on software can create some adverse situations, especially if an owner has not had the systems updated recently. In fact, statistics show that auto recalls for software problems increased by 10 percent from 2011 to 2015.

The company conducting the research in question noted that the code in a modern vehicle can be up to 10 times greater than the quantity of code in an F-35 aircraft. One of the challenges with new software products in vehicles is the fact that problems may not be immediately apparent until a model has been released and in use for a period of time. Further problems are possible because of the potential for hacking and the harvesting of private information. Dependence on computerized systems demands efforts to increase safety protocol to protect consumers. Industry experts point to companies like Tesla Motors and the development of over-the-air management of system updates for improving the timing of important updates.

Automakers still installing potentially deadly Takata airbags

Tennessee residents who are considering purchasing a new car before 2018 may want to learn about a congressional report on defective airbags. According to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., several automakers are still selling vehicles equipped with airbags that could explode. About 100 injuries and 10 deaths in the United States have been connected with exploding airbags manufactured by Takata.

An order by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires all of the vehicles that have Takata airbags to be recalled before the end of 2018. However, vehicle manufacturers are still being allowed to sell cars with the soon-to-be-recalled devices. Toyota, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi and Fiat Chrysler have all admitted that they are installing defective Takata airbags in their new cars.

Limited data may keep some Tennessee workers in harm's way

While slaughterhouses are safer to work at today than in the past, there are still questions regarding exact injury totals. Between 2004 and 2013, there were 151 deaths resulting from injuries in the meat industry. Furthermore, the injury rate for those working in the meat industry are higher than average for the rest of the manufacturing industry. In addition, a report from the Government Accountability Office says that injuries may be underreported.

In some cases, injuries, illnesses and deaths on the job are not reported or counted within the meat and poultry field because workers are actually employed by outside contractors. Language barriers may lead to workers not reporting injuries while medical staff may not refer injured workers to a doctor. In one instance, a worker sought treatment on-site 90 times before being referred to a physician. Immigrant workers may simply work through the pain as opposed to facing the risk of losing their job.

Logging tops list of most dangerous jobs in the country

All workers in Tennessee face some risk, but the chances of being killed on the job are much higher in certain occupations than in others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, logging is the most dangerous job in the United States. Some of the dangers that often lead to fatal logging accidents include rough terrain and falling branches.

The president of a California-based lumber company said that she was not surprised that the BLS data placed logging at number-one on the list of the most dangerous jobs in 2014. She said that outdoor jobs like logging, fishing and farming are usually based in rural areas far away from hospitals. When injured workers cannot receive medical help immediately, they are more at risk.

The insurance industry and autonomous cars

It is likely that self-driving cars will not be a common sight on Tennessee roads anytime soon, but when they finallyare, they will have an effect on the auto insurance industry as well. It is not clear how these cars will be insured, and in part, this is because the safety of the cars is not yet known.

The technology companies that are developing them tout their safety, yet algorithms are vulnerable to both software errors and hacking. Even if the cars are considerably safer than those driven by humans, accidents will likely still happen. Insurance companies may work alongside car companies to develop regulations around autonomous cars.