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Wisconsin Personal Injury Law Blog

OSHA cites WI foundry for exposing workers to silica dust

In recognition of the extreme health hazards posed by the inhalation of silica dust -- silicosis, cancer, lung infections, etc. -- the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently proposed a new rule that, if finalized, would both update the existing silica standard and provide far greater protection to workers.

Indeed, OSHA estimates that the new silica rule could prevent the onset of nearly 1,600 new silicosis cases every year and save as many as 700 lives. Until such time as this final rule is adopted, however, OSHA inspectors will need to remain extra vigilant to ensure the respiratory health of workers is protected.

It appears as if the agency is doing just this, as an iron foundry here in Wisconsin was recently cited for three OSHA violations, including a repeat violation for exposing workers to silica dust.

Minnesota police use novel weapon in fight against distracted driving

Law enforcement officials in neighboring Minnesota are currently conducting a statewide crackdown on distracted driving with the state's Department of Public Safety working with 400 law enforcement agencies to add extra patrols to the roads and highways now through April 20.

Thus far, these law enforcement officials have shown that they are serious about stopping distracted drivers and rooting out other traffic offenses, as 131 motorists were issued tickets for distracted driving and another 448 motorists were issued tickets for failing to wear a seat belt during the first three days of the campaign.

Do helmet law repeals translate into more motorcycle deaths?

MotorcycleHelmet.jpgAccording to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 19 states currently have what are known as universal helmet laws in effect. This means that all drivers and passengers -- regardless of age or experience level -- must wear a helmet at all times while riding a motorcycle.

Interestingly enough, however, lawmakers in eight of these 19 states are currently debating legislation that would essentially repeal their universal helmet laws and replace them with laws dictating that only certain classes of motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets.

If passed, these new laws could end up looking very similar to the helmet laws in states like Wisconsin, which mandates helmet use for all operators and riders under the age of 18.

While motorcycle advocacy groups have expressed overwhelming support for the dilution of universal helmet laws, believing that safety gear choices should be left up to the individual rider, safety experts aren't so sure that this is the best course of action.

NHTSA urged by NTSB to introduce major truck safety changes

semi truck.jpgThe National Transportation Safety Board -- an independent federal agency whose delegated tasks include issuing safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents and carrying out special transportation safety studies -- recently issued a set of eye-opening safety recommendations in the area of tractor-trailer safety.

The seven recommendations, issued to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last Thursday, were based on an internal 2013 study examining the safety of single-unit trucks, as well as other safety studies whose findings are directly applicable to tractor-trailers.

One of the more interesting recommendations concerns the danger posed by the blind spots on most tractor-trailers, particularly those located on the sides and rear.

Indeed, the NTSB points out how previous research has found that the altogether limited field of vision for most truckers in these spots creates an elevated accident risk during even the most simple driving maneuvers (lane changes, turns, etc.), and that everyone from passenger vehicle occupants and motorcyclists to bicyclists and pedestrians are endangered.

Investigation into horrific roller coaster accident continues

mt olmpus.jpgAnyone who has traveled the stretch of I-94 between Madison and Minneapolis is more than likely familiar with the various roadside attractions advertized on the seemingly innumerable billboards scattered throughout the course of the drive.

One of the more frequently advertised attractions on these billboards are indoor theme parks and resorts, where guests are free to rent a hotel room, and ride everything from waterslides to amusement park rides regardless of the weather conditions outside.

Unfortunately, one of these indoor theme parks was the scene of a rather horrific accident last month that left one patron with life-threatening personal injuries and authorities trying to determine how exactly something like this could have occurred.

DNR: Alcohol continues to be a major safety issue for snowmobilers

snowmobile2.jpgWhile it's hard to tell from stepping outside right now, winter is officially at end. This, of course, also means the official end of many favorite outdoor activities. For instance, ice fishing shacks are now required to be off the lakes, while the snowmobile trails are soon to be closed.

Interestingly, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently released some preliminary figures concerning the number of fatal snowmobile accidents on the state's many trails and, according to one official, the results are nothing less than "disappointing."

Statistics show that 23 people were killed in snowmobile crashes during the 2013-2014 season, a 15 percent jump from the 20 people killed in snowmobile crashes during the 2012-2013 season.

Recalled GM model now at the center of important federal lawsuit

gm logo.jpgAmerican auto giant General Motors has been dominating the news headlines lately, but not for reasons like increased profits, the opening of new plants or anything else that could be characterized as remotely positive.

Indeed, GM is currently under fire for its global recall of 1.6 million vehicles -- the 2005 to 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-2007 Chevy HHR, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice, 2007 Saturn Sky and 2007 Pontiac G5 -- for faulty ignition switches.

According to officials, the switches can cause the engine to stall and cut the vehicle's electrical power, a major safety issue that can result in the disabling of vital components like power steering and airbags.

As if this recall coupled with GM's subsequent revelation that the faulty ignition switches played a role in 31 car accidents and 12 fatalities in the U.S. wasn't shocking enough, the automaker also indicated that the company was aware of the problem for over 10 years yet failed to issue any sort of formal recall.

One of the nation's largest frats shocks members by ending pledging

Sigma Pi E.jpgIt's a rite of passage that takes place on college campuses throughout Wisconsin and across the U.S. every year: young men enduring the challenges of the fraternity pledging process.

While these secret rituals typically run the gamut from pledges having to endure various indignities, take part in social drinking, maintain a certain grade point average and even perform house chores, they have taken a decidedly deadly turn in recent years. Indeed, statistics show that there have been over 60 fraternity-related deaths since 2005 alone.

Now, one of the nation's roughly 75 national fraternity organizations reached what it called a "historic decision" regarding the ability of its over 240 chapters to partake in the pledging process.

CDC report finds distracted driving continues to take deadly toll

TEXT and DRIVE bliboard.jpgThanks to television and movies, most of us assume that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention primarily concerns itself with research related to infectious diseases and other important medical conditions.

However, it's important to understand that the agency does much more, including providing valuable insight on other issues related to public health and safety. For instance, the CDC recently released a rather shocking report discussing the extreme danger posed by distracted driving.

According to the report, distracted driving -- which encompasses everything from eating and texting to accessing a navigation system or surfing the radio while behind the wheel -- is responsible for a truly astounding number of personal injuries and fatalities on the roads and highways here in the U.S. on a daily basis.

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