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McDonald's feels the heat as employees file OSHA complaints

The most common workplace injuries sustained by fast-food workers in Tennessee and around the country are burns. According to a workplace safety survey, 79 percent of all fast-food employees sustained burn injuries while performing their duties in the twelve months that were covered, and many were burned repeatedly. Given the exposed nature of many of the cooking surfaces and the fast pace required of its employees during a rush, some commentators say McDonald's prizes speed and sales over employee safety and proper training.

A complaint recently filed with OSHA by a group of McDonald's employees in 19 cities alleges an environment fraught with workplace accident hazards and managerial indifference to employee safety. One worker who was burned on the arm stated that when the on-shift supervisor was asked for burn ointment, the manager told him to put mayonnaise on the injury instead of giving proper treatment. McDonald's denies the allegations, claiming the complaints are nothing more than an attempt to smear McDonald's' reputation and safety practices. Six McDonald's franchisees have been investigated by OSHA since the complaints were first aired.

Head-on crash kills 1, injures 2 in Tennessee

Criminal charges are expected to be filed in Tennessee following a deadly crash that killed one out-of-state woman and injured two men on March 11. According to the accident report, the crash occurred when a Dodge Ram driven by a 54-year-old Kentucky man failed to yield to an oncoming vehicle at the intersection of Little Elk Creek Road and State Highway 297. Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers say that alcohol may be a factor in the fatal head-on collision.

The incident happened at approximately 11:18 p.m. Troopers say that a 33-year-old Jellico man, who was behind the wheel of a Jeep, was traveling southbound on Little Elk Creek Road when he attempted to turn left onto the state highway and was struck by the Dodge. Preliminary reports do not indicate which vehicle was carrying the 33-year-old woman who was killed, but reports do say that none of the individuals who were hurt in the crash were wearing seatbelts when it occurred.

Chain-reaction crash in Tennessee kills pickup truck driver

Authorities in Tennessee have reported that the driver of a pickup truck was killed in a chain-reaction accident on March 2. The man died after his vehicle was rear-ended while it was stationary at an intersection in Murfreesboro. There were no immediate reports regarding what factors may have contributed to the collision, and police say that their investigation into the incident is ongoing. The crash took place at the intersection of Airport Road and Memorial Boulevard shortly after noon.

According to police, the pickup truck was waiting at the intersection behind two other vehicles when it was struck from behind by a large dump truck. The force of the impact crushed the pickup truck and propelled it into the car in front of it, which then struck a second car in an adjacent lane. A witness to the fatal accident likened the sound of the crash to a bomb going off.

Kinetic back brace could prevent workplace injuries

Goods from factories and farms pass through the hands of warehouse workers everyday, resulting in the repeated lifting and shifting around of boxes and other objects. Tennessee employees might be surprised that, according to 2013 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these activities caused more than 100,000 injuries in workplaces across the country. This figure is what a startup company aims to change. It has created a back brace that pairs with a wristband to detect when wearers are lifting objects and which muscles they are using to do so. The wearable device provides users with real-time feedback on whether or not they performed the lift safely. The company co-founder says that it could improve workers' awareness of how they are lifting boxes and objects so that they suffer fewer injuries on the job.

Additionally, the device provides managers with feedback on which employees need training in safe moving practices. It could also allow managers to determine whether changes are needed in the work environment or procedures. Many workers have to lift boxes from the floor and onto high shelves. This puts a lot of strain on the employees' shoulders, so it is recommended that employers provide lifting devices or steps to raise the boxes up to the workers' hips.

Hazards of vibration in the workplace

Although the human body can easily handle strong amounts of vibration in limited doses, data collected by publications such as the Journal of the American Medical Association indicate that the sort of sustained exposure to vibration that is found in many Georgia workplaces can be very harmful and difficult to detect. Lower back pain was singled out as a symptom of vibrational exposure that may be challenging to trace back to its source.

Many experts divide the most common form of workplace vibrational exposure into two sets. The first, hand-arm vibration, was the first to be discovered and described. It is often encountered in workers who use power tools such as jackhammers or pneumatic stone working tools. Harm to the limbs may result, including such symptoms as carpal tunnel syndrome, loss of sensation, interruptions of blood supply and even necrosis.

Auto accidents and spinal injuries

When Tennessee drivers are in a high-speed auto accident or head-on collision, an occupant could receive spinal injuries. Spinal fractures that are common in car accidents are thoracic mid-back and lumbar lower back fractures. A major symptom of a spinal injury is moderate to severe back pain that is exacerbated by movement. In some cases, a victim might also suffer from numbness or tingling if the spinal cord is affected.

There are three major types of spinal fracture patterns. Compression fractures, which break the front part of the vertebra, and axial burst fractures, which break both front and back of the vertebra, are flexion fractures. Flexion or distraction fractures follow the extension fracture pattern when vertebrae are pulled apart. Transverse process fracture is an uncommon rotation fracture pattern that results from rotation or extreme bending. Fracture-dislocation is when a vertebra moves off an adjacent vertebra, often causing spinal cord compression.

30 people killed nationwide every day in drunk driving accidents

Most Tennessee drivers know that drunk driving kills, but they may not realize just how serious the problem is. Across the United States, one person dies every 51 minutes in a motor vehicle accident caused by an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some 10,322 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2012, the CDC says. This number represents a third of all people killed in motor vehicle accidents that same year. More than 1.4 million motorists were arrested for drunk driving in 2010. Drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 accounted for a third of the crashes in 2012; the percentage decreased as the age of the drivers involved went up. Motorcyclists between 40 and 44 had the highest death rate in alcohol-related motorcycle crashes.

Large truck accidents in Tennessee

Tennessee accounted for approximately 7.8 percent of all accidents resulting in death in 2012, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Truck accident injury and death are common where a large truck and smaller passenger vehicles collide, and weekday crashes during the day account for 78 percent of all large truck accidents.

Thirty-one percent of all large-truck accidents occur as a result of head-on collisions, followed by 19 percent where another vehicle is rear-ended by the truck. The number of large trucks involved in deadly crashes peaked in 2012 at 77,000, the highest level since 2006, according to the NHTSA report. Around 72 percent of all fatalities in large-truck accidents were occupants of other vehicles than the truck, with another 11 percent accounted for by pedestrians and bystanders.

Distractions on the road

For Tennessee drivers, distractions on the road can lead to serious consequences. Activities that cause drivers to become distracted fall into three non-discrete categories: manual, visual and cognitive. Manually distracting activities include smoking, eating and drinking. Examples of visual distractions include making phone calls and using other technology. Cognitive distractions can be as simple as engaging in conversations with passengers to driving under the influence. Cellphone use, including texting, involves all three types of distractions, which makes it particularly dangerous.

A 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of the U.S. and seven European countries compared percentages of use of cellphones for calls, emails and texting while driving. Data analysis revealed that of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64, an estimated 69 percent reported driving while talking on their cellphone, and 31 percent reported texting while driving during the 30 days previous to the survey. This number was more than their European counterparts.

Experiencing post-traumatic stress after an auto collision

Major car accidents happen every day in Tennessee and across the U.S., and many people suffer from severe injuries as a result. One type of injury that often goes unnoticed is the emotional trauma that some people experience after an accident. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very real condition that can occur after a car collision and wreak havoc in many areas of people's lives.

It is normal for people to experience heightened anxiety during the days and weeks following a collision, and typically, the strong emotions fade with time. However, when the anxiety is persistent for weeks and months or starts getting worse, a person may be suffering from PTSD. The disorder can become debilitating and keep people from functioning normally in their daily lives, interfering with personal relationships, work and other areas.

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