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.

Preventing workplace injuries in Tennessee

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are an estimated 3 million workplace injuries per year. Of those, roughly 1 million are serious enough to cause workers to miss time from their jobs. Many Tennessee employees get hurt through overexertion while on the job. It can lead to back and other muscle strains, and it can be avoided by learning proper lifting techniques and asking for help when necessary.

Slips, trips and falls are another way that people get hurt while on the job. Common causes of slips and falls include slippery floors or obstacles in a walkway. Making sure that pathways are free from obstacles and using signs to indicate wet or slippery floors may prevent such injuries from occurring. Construction workers may also fall from heights if they aren't using the proper safety equipment or aren't using it correctly.

Numbers show that workplace safety still a large concern

Each year, some Tennessee workers are seriously injured or killed while at work. Workplace safety is a national concern. Despite advances that have been made with safety technology, injuries and deaths continue to happen at workplaces across the country.

According to the Department of Labor, 4,821 people were killed at work in 2014. Among workers who were age 55 and older, 1,691 died in workplace accidents in 2014. This was the highest number of fatalities ever recorded for this age group.

No OSHA exemption for employees using drugs, alcohol

Based on a letter posted on the website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in March, if an employee is injured at work while under the influence of alcohol, a Tennessee employer still must record the incident. OSHA allows an exemption for injuries that are self-inflicted, the result of self-medication or a result of grooming.

In the scenario described, an employee was injured on the job and then given a drug and alcohol test. According to the test, the employee was under the influence of alcohol, and the employer asked whether this counted as self-medicating. OSHA said that it did not because drinking alcohol is a symptom and not a treatment.

Recall for Fisher-Price swings

Tennessee parents whose young children have a Fisher-Price cradle swing should be aware that the product has been recalled. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has received two reports of the moving seat falling out because of the peg that holds the seat in place becoming disengaged. So far, no injuries have been reported.

The swing can rock either back and forth or side to side. It includes a mobile and can run on different speeds. It appears that in the cases reported, the peg works it way out. Three different swing models are being recalled by Fisher-Price. They are CMR40 Sweet Surroundings Cradle 'n Swing, CHM84 Soothing Savanna Cradle 'n Swing, and CMR43 Sweet Surroundings Butterfly Friends Cradle 'n Swing.