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South Carolina Personal Injury & Workers' Compensation Law Blog

External airbags lessen occupant injury by 40 percent

External airbags are an emerging vehicle safety feature that South Carolina residents should know about. While they are far from being implemented on vehicles, the advantages they offer may prompt more car parts manufacturers to create a strategy for developing them. ZF, which has developed its own model of external airbags, says that the feature can reduce the severity of occupants' injuries by as much as 40 percent.

ZF's model goes on the sides of a vehicle to protect occupants against side-impact crashes. Acting as an additional crumple zone, the airbags can help absorb the force of the crash. A predictive system will use sensors and cameras to recognize the vital details of an impending crash and deploy the airbags a split second before the event.

Teenager killed in a car accident

South Carolina residents who have been injured as a result of a car accident may be aware of a tragedy being investigated in Greenville County. A three-vehicle collision involving a stolen car resulted in the death of one teenager and the hospitalization of three other people. The teenager died at the scene of the crash, which occurred in front of a Target shopping plaza. The coroner stated that the deceased was wearing a seat belt. An autopsy revealed that he died as a result of blunt force trauma to his head, neck and chest.

The deceased was a high school student and youth football coach who worked with a children's team. He was driving a 2016 Toyota Corolla with two passengers in his car when a stolen 2016 Honda Accord struck his vehicle from behind at a red light. Witnesses stated the driver of the Accord was speeding when the car hit the Corolla. The Corolla rolled onto its side after the impact and the Accord drove into the median of the road, striking a 1998 Honda.

OSHA issues reminder on the rights of seasonal workers

During the last quarter of the year, many South Carolina employers hire part-time or temporary employees to help handle the holiday rush. However, some employers may not be aware of the regulations surrounding seasonal employment.

To help ensure seasonal employees are treated fairly, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Wage and Hour Division sent out a safety and pay reminder to employers. The reminder tells employers to take precautions to ensure that workers stay safe while managing crowds of customers at sales events. It also encourages employers to look for and correct potential safety hazards around work sites, whether they be on the sales floor, in the warehouse or in the transportation department.

How new technology is improving truck safety

Truck drivers and fleet owners in South Carolina should know about the benefits of advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning systems and backup alarms. Some argue that while driverless technology may be making headlines, these more modest features are causing a quiet revolution by reducing the number of crashes, especially rear-end collisions.

Adaptive cruise control, which can adjust the driver's speed with the rest of the traffic flow, and stationary object detection are other examples of effective collision mitigation technology. Entertainment technology like Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio and Apple Car Play integration are also helping by allowing drivers to focus on the road.

Diesel exhaust is an occupational hazard for oil and gas workers

Inherent in certain industries are conditions that pose potential hazards to workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an agency of the federal Department of Labor, sets and enforces standards and provides education and training, and South Carolina has its own OSHA plan as well. However, not every known hazard has established OSHA standards for permissible exposure to workers.

Workers in the oil and gas extraction industry are known to be exposed to diesel exhaust, which contains diesel particulate matter. OSHA reports the conclusion that limited exposure to diesel particulate matter can cause headaches, dizziness and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and prolonged exposure can cause cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and lung cancer. Affected workers are subject to exposure primarily through working around or near trucks, generators or compressors.

Trucking groups say hours of service rules encourage speeding

Commercial vehicle accident fatalities throughout South Carolina and the rest of the country have reached levels not seen in 29 years, according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some truck drivers and trucking industry groups say that federal hours of service regulations are at least partly to blame for the surge. The rules limit the amount of time that truck drivers can spend behind the wheel, but a growing number of industry voices say that this encourages reckless driving and causes deadly crashes.

Traffic accident deaths fell by 2 percent in 2017 after increasing alarmingly for two consecutive years. However, the number of road users killed in tractor-trailer crashes that year rose by a worrying 9 percent to 4,761. Federal hours of service rules require truck drivers to take a 30-minute rest after spending eight hours on the road. Critics of the regulations say it is the desire to complete shifts before this mandatory break that is leading commercial vehicle drivers to exceed posted speed limits and drive dangerously.

Safety while driving in the sun

Drivers in South Carolina and other areas of the country often face conditions when the sun can make it difficult to see the road. Many car accidents occur in the early morning hours and later in the evening because of the angle of the sun during these times. Fortunately, there are some tips that drivers can keep in mind while driving in these conditions so that they are safe while on the road.

A good pair of sunglasses can help to reduce the rays of the sun while driving. Sunglasses also provide protection from UV rays that can harm the eyes. Visors positioned in the car help block out the sun, and they can often be turned so that they are on the door or on the windshield. The windows of the vehicle can be tinted to help in blocking out the sun as well. Most states have limits as to how dark the tint can be on the windows.

Technology aims to combat truck driver fatigue

Trucking accidents can be particularly devastating to other drivers and passengers on the road in South Carolina. Due to the size and weight of semi trucks, people in other vehicles may be more likely to suffer serious injuries or even lose their lives in a crash. Because truck driver fatigue can be deadly, various companies are working to develop technologies to detect fatigued drivers and prevent them from getting behind the wheel. Two developers with different kinds of technological experience have come together to develop a warning system that could help to stop crashes before they occur.

Pulsar Informatics, one of the companies involved in the project, worked in the past to study fatigue and sleep for pilots, astronauts and others working in mission-critical industries where fatigue could be deadly. The same is true in trucking, where fatigued drivers can cause serious truck crashes. The company developed an algorithm to measure the risk of fatigue that takes multiple factors into account, including the hours of service data for that particular driver.

OSHA announces most common safety violations

Workers in North Carolina workplaces far too frequently face unsafe conditions that could pose a serious risk to their well-being. As part of the 2018 National Safety Council Congress, a deputy director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration presented the 10 most common workplace safety violations that the agency encountered during the 2018 fiscal year, highlighting particular areas of concern.

The most common safety violation cited by OSHA was a failure to provide fall protection. With 7,270 violations during the year, it was the most cited issue, as it has been for the previous few years. Workers near unprotected edges, steep roofs or open sides were not provided with protective equipment that could save their lives in the event of a fall. Construction contractors were most frequently found responsible for these violations. Another issue that was common among such contractors was related to scaffolding. OSHA issued 3,336 violations for scaffolding problems, including a failure to provide fall arrest systems or guardrails. Ladder problems were also quite frequent, landing in the sixth-place spot. These violations included ladders with broken steps and rails or ladders used for unintended purposes.

OSHA kicks off trenching and excavation safety program

On Oct. 1, OSHA kicked off its National Emphasis Program on trenching and excavation safety. With the NEP comes certain changes that employers in South Carolina will want to be aware of. Employers will also want to review OSHA's Trenching and Excavation Quick Card, which lays out the basics of trenching safety.

Trenching and excavation work led to a total of 130 fatalities between 2011 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roughly 80 percent of those fatalities occurred in the private construction industry, often taking place in industrial areas and at private residences. Furthermore, almost half occurred between 2015 and 2016, revealing a clear upward trend. OSHA has recently been issuing severe penalties for trenching safety violations to combat the surge.

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