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St. Louis Legal Issues Blog

Reducing blind spots in workplaces

Blind spot accidents are a danger, and not just when driving. Blind spots in work environments, especially those that involve the use of heavy equipment or machinery, can lead to injuries that range from minor to catastrophic. Workers in Missouri may be interested in some information on safety precautions that could be taken to avoid these types of incidents.

Accidents can happen when workers who are carrying large objects or boxes can't see each other and collide. Large vehicles are often equipped with safety systems that make an audible warning when the vehicle is moving in reverse, but sometimes workers may become so accustomed to that sound that it blends into the background and fails to work as an alert to potential danger.

Democrats propose sleep apnea legislation to force DOT to act

Because sleep apnea causes higher risks of trucking accidents in Missouri and around the country, the Department of Transportation worked on a sleep apnea rule throughout 2016. With the new administration's anti-regulatory approach, however, the DOT announced in August that it was withdrawing the rule. Democrats in both the House and Senate have reacted by proposing bills that would force the DOT to act.

The bills would force the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to move forward with the sleep apnea rule. Before the Trump administration, the FMCSA had worked on the rule for a year, soliciting input from medical professionals and industry stakeholders. When President Trump came into office, he announced a drive to reduce the number of regulations.

Cellphone use behind the surge in distracted driving deaths

Distracted driving accidents cause thousands of deaths each year around the country according to crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the figures show that stricter laws and public service messaging have done little to stem the problem. Road safety groups say that an enormous growth in cellphone use by motorists is behind the recent surge in distracted driving accidents, and they say that modern smartphones are especially dangerous because they distract Missouri drivers in more than one way.

Drivers become cognitively distracted when they allow their minds to stray from the task at hand to focus instead on conversations or composing text messages, and they are manually distracted when they use their hands to access applications on their phones or type messages instead of keeping them on the steering wheel. Smartphone screens also encourage drivers to divert their eyes from the road ahead. This kind of behavior places other road users at great risk because distracted drivers are unable to take evasive action and vehicles traveling at highway speeds cover about 30 yards every second.

5 common causes of hospital worker injuries

If you are a nurse or nursing assistant, your job is to help others stay healthy and safe, but did you know your occupation puts you at a unique risk for injury? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), hospital workers experience twice the rate of injuries than the national average of all private workers. 

There are many causes of hospital injuries, from contact with sharp objects to overexertion. Below is an overview of five common workplace hazards facing hospital employees.

OSHA worksheets are a compliance resource

Workers in Missouri and around the country can report serious workplace hazards to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and they can also file complaints with the federal agency if they believe that safety standards are being ignored or skirted by their employers. Safety protocols evolve over time and it can be difficult for employers to keep up as accident investigations and new studies yield fresh approaches. OSHA's Fatal Facts worksheets address this problem by using actual case histories to provide employers and employees with safety tips and regular compliance updates.

Employers may find themselves featured in an OSHA Fatal Facts worksheet if they fail to identify hazardous conditions in the workplace or do not respond appropriately to threats that are acknowledged. Employers that operate in highly regulated segments like construction, warehousing and oil and gas are more likely to be scrutinized by OSHSA. A worksheet that was released in August 2017 covers the case of a warehouse worker who lost his life after falling from a pallet that was being raised by a forklift.

Driving close to home linked to car accidents

The roads close to home that people travel every day in Missouri become extremely familiar to local drivers. This familiarity can cause people to navigate roads on mental autopilot. People in their neighborhoods sometimes fall back on muscle memory instead of conscious evaluation of their surroundings. Daily drives to home and work relax motorists and leave them vulnerable to unexpected hazards like car breakdowns, animals in the street or others on the road.

A large portion of car crashes occur within 25 miles of people's homes. To promote safety, people can combat the relaxing effect of familiar surroundings by maintaining their alertness and using seat belts.

Considerations when applying for Social Security disability

People in Missouri seeking Social Security Disability Income often have questions and concerns about the next steps in a process that can be confusing and complicated. It can be difficult to exit the workforce due to disability, and applying for SSDI can be challenging. Statistics show that 60 to 75 percent of applications are denied as well as 80 percent of appeals, which means that there is a high bar to meet to prove one's eligibility.

A number of people must go through multiple appeals before securing Social Security disability benefits. There are a few steps that people can take in order to help bolster their application and ensure they are taking the right steps forward. First, discussing plans for SSDI with one's doctor can be critical. A doctor's recommendation can be one of the most important parts of an SSDI application, and the doctor will have necessary paperwork to complete in order for a person to submit their application.

How headlights make roads safer

Missouri drivers who turn their headlights on during the day could be at a lower risk of getting into an accident. Research indicates that vehicles may be more visible during a clear day when they are in use in addition to at night or when the weather is bad.

The use of headlights during the day has resulted in a 12 percent reduction in crashes involving pedestrians. It has also resulted in a 23 percent reduction in crashes involving cars and motorcycles when the vehicle is coming from the opposite direction. This is important because these types of accidents tend to cause the highest number of injuries and deaths. Overall, the use of headlights during daytime hours has resulted in a 10 percent decrease in accidents, according to some studies. Despite this data, the use of daytime running lights are not mandated by the federal government.

3 reasons you need a lawyer after a Missouri car accident

While many people understand they may be able to get legal compensation for injuries and other harm from a car accident, they often still hesitate to contact an attorney. Many feel unwilling to face the prospect of what they believe may be a long and stressful process.

However, consulting an attorney does not mean running off to file a complaint the very next day. There are very good reasons to speak with a qualified lawyer shortly after an accident. After learning about the specifics of your case, your attorney can advise you as to the best approach for you and the time frame for beginning your case.

Vehicle collision avoidance systems reduce crashes

Missouri drivers whose vehicles include collision avoidance systems such as alerts for blind spots and drifting into another lane may have fewer accidents than drivers who do not have these systems. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that in 2015, single-vehicle head-on crashes and sideswipes were lower by 11 percent in vehicles that had these systems. For injury crashes of the same type, the rate was 21 percent lower.

In all, there were about 6 million motor vehicle accidents in 2015. The IIHS says that if all vehicles had these collision avoidance systems, there would have been approximately 55,000 fewer injuries. Two other studies done on 2015 data involving Volvos in Sweden and trucking fleets in the United States found that accident rates could go down around 50 percent with warning systems for lane departures.

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