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Technology could prevent truck accidents

Tennessee motorists may find it interesting to learn about a new technology that would allow drivers to "see through" large trucks ahead of them on the roadway and know when it is safe to pass them. The concept was developed by the South Korean electronics conglomerate Samsung.

The Samsung safety truck uses a wireless camera mounted on the front of the truck to stream video to four large screens placed on the back. That means anyone driving behind the truck can essentially see what the truck driver is seeing and choose a safe and appropriate time to pass the vehicle.

Alcohol, speed and youth major factors in motor vehicle accidents

As many Tennessee motorists know, speeding remains a leading factor in motor vehicle accidents. The total number of fatalities dropped by almost 10,000 to 33,561 between 2003 and 2012, yet speeding was still cited as a factor in about 30 percent of the deaths. Rather than viewing speed as a lone causative factor, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration puts it in context with a common co-factor and looks at the incidence by gender and age.

A blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is considered driving under the influence in every state. NHTSA data showed that in any fatal motor vehicle accident during 2012 that involved a speeding driver, there was a 42 percent chance that the driver was also intoxicated. The total number of fatal accidents where one speeding driver tested for some alcohol in their system was almost as high as the number showing no alcohol.

The prevalence of health care worker injuries

Tennessee residents who work as nurses in residential care facilities or hospitals may not be surprised to read that health care continues to present the highest rate of injuries relative to any other general industry. The hazards of the profession, primarily tied to lifting and transferring patients, have been highlighted in a number of media reports, including one about a 43-year-old nurse who was unable to walk until she received surgery for a back injury after she helped lift a heavy patient who had fallen. Injuries like hers are unfortunately common in an industry that, according to reports, lacks sufficient lifting equipment to assist nurses with tasks that can strain muscles and joints and even result in permanent disorders.

In order to significantly reduce the number of workplace injuries reported by nurses in health care facilities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is extending a program that is both collaborative and punitive in nature for facilities that violate the federal agency's broader workplace safety guidelines. Specific federal mandates for equipment used to lift and transfer patients or similar ergonomic measures, however, do not exist, but OSHA does promote their implementation as a best practice, and it will examine their use as well as the use of broader patient handling policies in multiple facilities operated by the same corporate entity in order to determine their overall impact on the industry's injury rate.

Salon chemical use under increased scrutiny

Tennessee manicurists may not know about reports that link potentially dangerous chemicals in some nail salon products to serious health problems. Nail salon products that include chemicals such as formaldehyde may be associated with serious medical problems such as cancer, miscarriages, asthma and respiratory disease. Efforts to regulate these chemicals have generally been unsuccessful.

After the New York Times oublished articles meant to draw attention to the issue of possibly harmful chemicals in salon products, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came out against the chemicals. Cuomo issued emergency regulations on these potentially harmful chemicals in an attempt to make work safer for nail salon employees. De Blasio also announced that he would be making efforts to regulate the chemicals as well.

The leading causes of fatal car accidents

In Tennessee and around the country, car accidents claim the lives of many people each year due to various causes such as driving while under the influence and texting while driving. Using data obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on fatal car accidents between 2009 and 2013, the Auto Insurance Center has compiled a list of the leading causes in each state as well as the District of Columbia.

In Tennessee and a majority of the other states, the primary cause was the failure of a driver to keep in the proper lane. In Mississippi and Kentucky, overcorrecting was the leading cause of fatal car accidents. The only other state that had that as the number one cause was South Dakota.

Airbag recall expanded to include 34 million vehicles

Tennessee motorists may wish to visit a website provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find out if their vehicle is included in what safety experts say is the largest vehicle recall in history. The auto parts maker Takata had already recalled approximately 18 million vehicles because of defective airbags, but that number has since been doubled. Many of the vehicles involved were manufactured by Honda, but Takata also provided airbags to several other manufacturers for installation in vehicles produced between 2000 and 2011.

The Japanese company has been widely criticized for resisting the efforts of regulators to get their defective products off the road, but recalls were ordered when exploding airbags were linked to five U.S. deaths. The victims were drivers and front seat passengers hit by shrapnel following an airbag explosion. The faulty airbags have also been linked to at least 10 serious injuries.

Days bringing higher risk of car accidents in Tennessee

Although a car accident can happen at any time, there are certain days each year in which the likelihood of being involved in one is significantly greater than on other dates. By being aware of when the risks are greater, Tennessee drivers can take additional precautions if they plan to be out on the road at those times.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an average of 400 people are killed across the nation over Memorial Day weekend each year, largely due to the consumption of alcohol by some drivers. The risk of an accident over this weekend is 13.1 times greater than on other days of the year. Similarly, higher accident rates occur on St. Patrick's Day with drunken revelers getting behind the wheels of their cars.

The violence and benefits of airbags

Some people in Tennessee might question the safety of airbags as they can injure people when going off at the wrong time or even when deploying during an accident. This safety device seems to have a certain amount of risk inherent but can also save lives, and these devices work the way they do in an aim to be effective during an accident as there is typically less than a second before a driver or passenger makes contact with a steering wheel or front panel during a collision.

The name "airbag" is a misnomer as these cushions fill and deploy with nitrogen gas and act when an explosion is triggered. The force airbags are triggered with is relatively violent, but experts say that this is a necessary, controlled act intended to counteract the violence of an automobile accident.

Heat-related illness and death in the workplace

When summer approaches and temperatures rise, employees in eastern Tennessee who work outdoors may be concerned about the dangers of excessive heat exposure. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 30 workers across the nation succumbed to heat-related illnesses in 2012, and thousands more became ill. Because the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires that workplaces be kept free of hazards known to cause serious injury or death, employers must protect their employees from serious heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke.

Direct sunlight, humidity and high temperatures coupled with continuous or intense physical exertion are recognized risk factors that could result in illness or incapacitation. However, lack of acclimatization of employees to hot workplace conditions is among the leading causes of on-the-job heat-related illness and death, according to OSHA. Reports indicate that lack of a heat illness prevention program in place to protect employees from the effects of excessive heat is a contributing factor.

Workers' compensation in Tennessee

If you have suffered a work injury or contracted an occupational disease, you are probably dealing with the stress of not being able to work, mounting bills and significant, ongoing medical expenses. Your employer is mandated to provide coverage for injured workers through workers' compensation insurance. You might be worried that waiting for your settlement will take time and you will be unable to take care of your bills in the meantime.

There are several steps you need to take after you have suffered an injury on the job. You must report it to your employer in writing no later than 30 days after it occurred. Your employer will then give you a choice of three doctors, and you will need to choose one. If your doctor orders that your injury necessitates your missing work for seven days or longer, you may be able to get temporary disability payments prior to your application for workers' compensation benefits.

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