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.

NSC names April Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Innovations in communications technology have made life easier and more productive for many Tennessee residents, but road safety advocates are becoming increasingly concerned about the number of drivers who use electronic devices while behind the wheel. The problem is particularly pronounced among younger drivers who have grown up with cellular technology. Campaigns run by the National Safety Council have generally focused on making the public more aware of emerging dangers, and the organization has named April the Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Figures released by the NSC indicate that car manufacturers may actually be making the problem of distracted driving worse by filling the vehicles sold to Americans with so much electronic equipment. The organization says that more than half of all drivers feel that the information and entertainment features in their cars, trucks and SUVs are safe to use, but many experts disagree. They say that these features offer drivers convenience at the expense of safety, and the NSC is providing resources such as videos, posters and infographics to back up these claims.

Sleep apnea may lead to work injuries

Tennessee workers who have sleep apnea might want to learn about a small study showing a link between having the disorder and an increased risk of suffering workplace accidents and injuries. The study, conducted in Canada with slightly more than 1,200 sleep disorder clinic patients, showed that people who have sleep apnea have double the risk of workplace injuries than those who don't.

According to the researchers, the types of injuries suffered by those with sleep apnea involved accidents that resulted from not being as vigilant at work, including falls, burns and trips. People who have obstructive sleep apnea wake up many times throughout the night when their airways briefly collapse, but they don't especially remember doing so. They tend to then be tired and feel fatigued during their waking hours.

Chicken of the Sea recalls canned tuna products

Tennessee consumers should be aware that Chicken of the Sea has recalled more than 107,000 cans of tuna. The company stated that its products may have been undercooked, which could result in life-threatening contamination.

The company stated that its equipment may have malfunctioned, causing their products to be undercooked. The issue was found during a routine inspection of the plant. If the product is consumed, it could cause serious health conditions.

Car brakes require maintenance to keep the vehicle safe

While many Tennessee drivers believe that they are driving safely, the vehicles they are driving may not be safe, especially if they fail to care for or maintain their braking system. If drivers often drive in stop and go traffic, their braking system can potentially fail much faster than expected, resulting in a serious collision that could cause injuries or even deaths. There are signs that could indicate that the braking system needs to be attended to.

One of the major signs is that the brakes will squeal as the vehicle comes to a stop. This squeal occurs when there is less than a quarter inch of the brake pad left. In some cases, the indicator that causes the squeal could rust and fall off, meaning the driver will not be warned. If drivers find that it takes longer for their vehicles to stop, they should have their brake pads replaced. If the brake pads fail, the vehicle could crash.

Staying safe while operating cranes

While there are no state or federal safety standards as it relates to operating a crane, most operators on major construction projects in Tennessee and around the country receive formal training. Commonly, larger employers will ask that a crane operator has been certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. However, it is possible that smaller operators do not have the same level of training, which could result in unsafe actions.

Proper training is crucial because just one mistake can lead to property damage and loss of life. One accident that took place in Cincinnati several years ago resulted in the death of a 5-year-old child as well as damaged cars after an overloaded crane arm collapsed. In many cases, crane accidents are the result of human error and not a defect with the crane itself. To help ensure that the cranes themselves are not defective, they undergo both daily and annual inspections.

Google cars may not prevent accidents

Tennessee motorists may have heard that for the first time, a Google self-driving car was in a crash that it caused. Other Google automated vehicles have been in accidents before, but they were all the fault of other drivers. The accident took place in Mountain View, California, where Google has its headquarters, and involved a city bus. However, no one was injured.

According to Google, the car was about to turn right, but after getting into the far right lane, the vehicle detected sandbags and moved to the center of the lane. A bus ended up striking the left side of the vehicle. The Google test driver believed the bus was going to yield, and the bus driver assumed the same of the Google car, which is why neither attempted to avoid the accident.

Additional 70 to 90 million Takata airbags may be recalled

Tennessee residents may have heard about the recall of 20 million airbags manufactured by Takata, a Japanese company. The airbags have a design defect that causes them to sometimes explode violently, sending projectiles into the bodies of car occupants. The airbags were initially recalled after more than 100 people were injured and 10 were killed.

U.S. lawmakers are now indicating that Takata hid evidence of the problems by manipulating data. Automakers have stated that the company used ammonium nitrate, a highly volatile chemical, in making the bags. They indicated that, as well as problems with moisture exposure and the design problems, have led to the dangerous nature of the airbags.