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  • Legislation Bans Toxic Chemicals from Children’s Products

    Posted Apr 17th, 2014 By in Child Safety, Product Liability With | Comments Off

    A bill recently introduced in the Senate would ban certain toxic chemicals from being added to products intended for children, such as clothes, car seats, furniture, and toys. The bill currently has enough votes to pass due to the number of co-sponsors, however it is currently stuck. Two senators are among 34 co-sponsors of the bill. During a press conference this morning, they asked the Senate to pass the bill, called the Child Safe Products Act. The State Assembly passed a similar version of the legislation last year, and agan this year. The legislation would create a list of hazardous chemicals found in children’s products. The State Department of Environmental Conservation would maintain the list. Children’s product manufactures and distributors would need to inform retailers if their products contain any of the chemicals included on the list within one year. Beginning in 2013, children’s products that included these chemicals couldn’t be sold in New York. The consumer advocacy group Clean & Health New York created a fact sheet on the chemicals banned throughout the state. During a press concerence,  a senator said they were alarmed because there weren’t currently any requirements for manufacturers to disclose information to the public. His statement said children and families are exposed to these harmful chemicals each day without realizing it, and it must be stopped through the Child Safe Products Act.

    If the legislation is passed by the Senate, the result will have an impact across the country. New York and California are currently the two biggest consumer markets in the US, and California currently has similar laws in effect. Consumer safety measures put into effect by one or both of these states have resulted in manufactures across the country creating legislation and new requirements for chemical safety. A representative for Child Care Council, a nonprofit child care resource, said many companies change a product for the whole country. A list of the banned substances found inside children’s products include arsenic, which is found in car seats and bed frames. It is known carcinogen and leads to skin tumors and poor cognitive development. Other ingredients include benzene, beryllium, cobalt, lead and mercury. Benzene can be found in baby food and leads to genetic mutations or leukemia. Keryllium is found in electronic devices and can lead to reduced lung functioning and lung cancer. Cadmium is also banned, and can lead to loss of motor skills, according to news reports.

  • Car Seat Installation Advice

    Posted Apr 17th, 2014 By in Car Safety, Child Safety With | Comments Off

    The Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio recently detailed ways to help keep children safe inside a vehicle. Installing a car seat can be very difficult for parents and caretakers due to the many adjustments required. Using the correct seat is necessary for any child. They urge parents to research a car seat before making a purchase, and review different seats. Analyze weight ranges and ages the seat require before bringing it hoome from the store. Akron Children’s Hospital will check the seat to make sure it is safely and correctly installed, and the National Highway Safety Administration also provides tips for installation of child car seats. They urge reading the instruction manual completely before installation and making sure to review all details. Each car seat must be installed with the lower anchors of the LATCH system, or a seat belt can be used to secure it. Pay special attention to locking a seat belt if using a seat belt to install the seat through reading the guide provided the manufacturer. Each car seat and vehicle varies, so following instructions closely is necessary for success. The car seat must go into the back seat of a car and instructions for installation must be closely followed. The car seat should be secured tightly, and shouldn’t move more than an inch when pulled in any direction. If the forward-facing seat includes a top tether strap, connect this to the tether anchor in order to tighten. This reduces the movement of the car seat during a collision. With a rear-facing seat, make sure the car seat is correctly installed. Many car seats include indicators which help users through this part of the process. Contact a Child Passenger Safety Technician if necessary in order to help guide you through the process. There are many fire and police stations which provide seat checks free of charge. Check for an inspection station nearest to you.

    When placing a child inside the car, make sure to position the harness on the child properly. For rear-facing seats, the harness shouldn’t be twisted, and it must go through the slot which is at or under a child’s shoulders. For forward-facing car seats, make sure the harness goes through the slot at or above the shoulders. Secure the chest clip, and make sure it stays at armpit level, according to news reports.

     

  • Distracted Driving Discussed by Experts

    Posted Apr 17th, 2014 By in Car Safety, Distracted Driving With | Comments Off

    The leading cause of teen fatalities are car collisions. In 2008, 16% of every distracted-driver caused car crash involved a teenager under the age of 20. A recent publication by the “Journal of Adolescent Health” discusses how to improve awareness about the issues, and how distracted driving can be reduced among teens. In the last three decades, many efforts have been made to reduce adolescent car wrecks, including the creation of new technologies. Distracted driving is a major risk among teens, and the risk has increased over the years due to the many distractions available through technology. There are many causes of distraction, however experts agree that taking a broad approach is necessary rather than focusing on each source of distraction. They hope to provide teens, parents, lawmakers, and researchers with an improved understanding of why distracted driving can be fatal, and how to reduce the risk. The article reviews many influences on teens, and discusses the policies which could address the issue of distracted driving more effectively. There are many issues surrounding teen distraction, including their brain development and how parent’s play a role in modeling good driving behaviors. They discuss the idea of many complications that could make teens more likely to face the effects of distraction compared with other ages. The author explores why teens in particular don’t pay attention while driving. This may involve the fact their brains are still developing and they don’t have as much driving experience. They believe an enhanced level of driver training can help with the many problems teens face in particular while on the road.

    The publication also addresses what actions can be taken to reduce the risk of distraction among teenagers. They suggest legislative interventions, and also recognize there are other ways to prevent distraction. Behavior change programs are necessary for groups that are at higher risk which pinpoint the factors involved with distraction and design methods individualized for each person’s needs. Evidence shows laws that limit texting or talking on a phone behind the wheel aren’t effective enough were also reviewed. Lowering driver distractions and increasing roadway safety are going to become an increasing challenge. Automated functions are going into more vehicles, and they remove the driver’s attention from the road in front of them. They suggest more health and safety campaigns which target cultural values in order to tackle the rising amount of distraction, according to news reports.

  • Lawsuit Filed Against Exercise Ball Company

    Posted Apr 17th, 2014 By in Personal Injury, Product Liability With | Comments Off

    A 70-year-old man from Sioux Falls was injured permanently after he fell from an exercise ball after it exploded. The man filed a lawsuit recently against the product manufacturer for negligence. He is asking for an unknown about of damages from Easton Bell Sports, the Van Nuys, California based manufacturer of the exercise ball. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court of South Dakota. He alleges the ball burst, and caused him to fall. He was left permanently handicapped after the fall and was temporarily unable to use his arms and legs. Less than two years ago, a similar lawsuit was filed due to injuries sustained by an exploding stability ball. Ledraplastic paid an undisclosed amount, and after the lawsuit they included a warning with their product which told them not to use free weights while using the stability ball. 3 million stability balls were also recalled in 2009 after complaints were received from 47 customers concerning the explosion of balls marketed as “anti-burst” to consumers. The latest lawsuit against the product made by Easton Bell claims the product’s defective design and the way it was improperly manufactured lead to the explosion. It also claims the company failed to warn customers of the danger, and by doing so they were negligent. The victim was exercising in their home when the ball burst in June of 2011. He went into a medically induced coma after the explosion. The complaint says the victim landed on his chest, chin, and pelvis and his injuries were so severe he needed to be transported to the emergency room and treated there for his injuries. He went through many surgeries and months of physical therapy after the fall, and the fall required the wife to remodel their home in order for him to get around the house with a handicap.

    The complaint doesn’t say what exercise he was attempting when he fell, and it also doesn’t state whether the ball was advertised as “anti-burst.” However, his attorney states he was using the ball as instructed an insert that came with the product. An exercise physiologist says customers should be aware that although stability balls can be helpful for exercise, safety isn’t a guarantee. They shouldn’t be overinflated, which can lead to bursting or deflating. Stability balls marketed as “anti-burst” mean they should slowly collapse to the floor if they are perforated or more weight is put on them, according to news reports.

  • City Health Director Criticizes Children’s Hospital

    Posted Apr 16th, 2014 By in Child Safety, safety With | Comments Off

    Around five years after an outbreak of a fungus in a Children’s Hospital, the New Orleans city health director is slamming the hospital and state for not alerting the public concerning the outbreak. Five children ranging in ages from 35 days to 13 years were killed in the outbreak, and they were admitted to hospitals due to severe illnesses. Authorities determined all children were cared for using the same hospital linens, which carried a hazardous fungus. Investigators with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered the source of the fungus, which lead to the health director’s criticism of the state and hospital’s response to the outbreak. The director for the CDC and hospital officials defended their response, however a family of one of the children who died blames the state, hospital, and linen company. Doctors also failed to order a biopsy of a black spot which appeared on one of the victim’s armpit, claims one of the families. A malpractice lawsuit was filed four years ago after the spot appeared on a 13-year-old treated in the hospital for a rare blood disease. The lawsuit was filed in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court. 20 procedures were conducted by doctors to prevent spread of the fungal inspection in patients. The lawsuit says he succumbed to a herpes infection in 2009.

    One year after his death, the family discovered there was a fungus outbreak due to contaminated linens provided by TLC Services. An article about the outbreak will be published by the Pediatric Infectious Disease Control next week. Investigations by the CDC filtered out other possible causes of fatalities, such as soaps, lotion, and medical equipment because the linens were the only item in which all patients were exposed. A medical epidemiologist specializing in fungi said the rare fungus invades blood vessels and can be inhaled. A representative for the Children’s Hospital said the hospital reacted quickly and recognized similar skin lesions on two patients within their special care unit, and brought in state health officials. They also stated the five patients who died had weakened immune systems because they suffered from other serious medical conditions, and the fungus wasn’t the cause of death for any of the patients. There is no data on mucormycosis fatalities across the country currently available, however the report shows they seem to be on the rise. The Louisiana Department of Health issued a statement concerning the lack of public warning as a result of patient privacy, according to news reports.

  • How Spring Cleaning Keeps a Home Safe

    Posted Apr 16th, 2014 By in Personal Injury, safety With | Comments Off

    Spring signals improving weather for many regions throughout the country, and many people take advantage of the change in seasons to clean their home. Spring cleaning involves getting rid of any clutter, and helping to clean any potential safety hazards from a home. By organizing a space better, it contributes to the ability to move around a home more safely. In thinking about ways to clear your home of any unnecessary items, experts advise thinking about what you would take if you only had 20 minutes to gather the most important items from a home. It helps to clear the home of any items that aren’t necessary. Begin the spring cleaning process in a room that is used often, since the results are more noticeable right away and encourages positive reinforcement to continue cleaning efforts. Establish a time limit so the project doesn’t overwhelm you by lasting an extended period of time. Clean specific areas for no longer than 2 hours at a time, and return the project at a later time to finish. To determine whether an item is important or not, if you haven’t used it in one year it is most likely unnecessary. Organize items by the things you want to keep, give away, sell in a garage sale, donate to charity, or throw out.

    Reducing dust has health benefits since it can reduce allergies and trigger asthma. To stay on top of cleaning and potential health hazards, sort and file mail every day, discard magazines, organize items into clear plastic storage boxes, and keep smaller objects in re-closeable bags. Purchase furniture that includes storage, and make donations to a favorite charity on a regular basis. For every item that comes into a home, make sure to discard something else that hasn’t been used in awhile. If you decide to part with a cherished object, you can always take a photograph or video in order to preserve memories without needing to hang onto the item itself. By removing items from a home, they are less likely to cause clutter, which can create a trip and fall hazard inside the home. It can also lead to a fire hazard if flammable items aren’t stored properly. Experts also recommend checking smoke alarm batteries while spring cleaning in order to warn residents so they have time to escape in case of a fire, according to news reports.

  • App Helps Reduce Insurance Costs in New Zealand

    Posted Apr 16th, 2014 By in Car Safety, Personal Injury With | Comments Off

    A free smartphone app in New Zealand offers drivers the ability to decrease their insurance premiums if they drive safely. This represents the first time an offer like this has been offered to residents in New Zealand. “SmartDrive” assesses an individual’s driving behaviors during 250km of roadway travel. Motorists who score highly will be offered a discount on premiums equaling up to 20%. The Chief Executive Officer David Hancock said their strategy is to innovate customer benefits. The smartphone app is offered by Tower, and their CEO says they always look for ways to lower costs for customers. The insurance industry currently doesn’t have a reputation for innovation, and they are dedicated to providing increased value. The app can not only help drivers safe money through premiums but also helps encourage safer driving habits. This system, called User-Based-Insurance, can change the market by providing fair pricing based on driving habits. The app also has the potential of making drivers more aware of their driving habits and make adjustments when necessary. The technology behind the app involves telematics, which enables gathering driving data then transmitting is directly from a vehicle to the insurance provider. The provider can monitor, analyze, score and adjust premiums based on the data they receive.

    The system collects details about braking, acceleration, distance traveled, location, and trip duration in order to understand a driver’s risks and alter their insurance premium based on that information. The app also gives drivers the ability to see how their score compares with other drivers who finished driving 250km. The app can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App Store or Google Play. The phone can be placed in the vehicle with a cradle in a stable position, or on the dashboard or center console tray. The app is available to every driver in New Zealand, whether or not they are a customer of Tower. The Road Safety Director at the NZ Transport Agency says the technology can contribute to driving safety and make roads throughout the country safer. The CEO of the company that developed SmartDriver is pleased that residents can see the benefits of User-Based-Insurance through this new app. Many residents are pleased by the introduction of the app, because they can compare themselves with others and save money on their insurance by practicing safe driving habits. The app will be available starting mid-April, according to news reports.

  • Ride Share Insurance Provisions Questioned

    Posted Apr 16th, 2014 By in Car Safety, safety With | Comments Off

    The Ohio Department of Insurance is warning consumers to re-consider getting a ride home from popular ride-share services such as Lyft and Uber. These services expanded into Cleveland last week, and an increasing number of customers are asking questions about their insurance, record, and business model. A consumer alert was issued by the Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director regarding insurance issues with these ride share programs. Ohio residents are asked to consider factors such as coverage gaps in their policy. The driver may have coverage, but their policy might not provide enough coverage in the case of a wreck. Many personal auto insurance policies don’t apply when somebody uses their personal car for commercial purposes, including accepting fares for those giving rides. The insurance department says personal automobile insurance isn’t intended to cover those who are using their cars for commercial purposes. The general manager for Uber Ohio said they have necessary coverage. Many are more concerned about UberX, but a driver needs to show their vehicle registration and insurance documentation before working for the company. The drivers are considered independent contractors. Uber has a commercial insurance policy including $1 million in coverage for each incident. Coverage starts as soon as someone accepts a ride or gets dropped off. The company also includes a $1 million coverage for uninsured or underinsured drivers and insurance for driver liability up to $100,000.

    Lyft’s $1 million liability coverage exceeds the amount required of other transportation companies. Taxi drivers are only required to carry $300,000 of liability coverage. The Ohio Department of Transportation said they wouldn’t give their opinion on these companies, however they will continue to give consumers information they need in order to make their own decision. A non-profit trade association announced a campaign called “Who’s Driving You?” in order to protect passengers from the misinformation provided by unregulated ride-sharing organizations including Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar. Officials should be urged to demand a meeting to answer questions about these ride share programs. The Insurance Institute said they are concerned about passengers, who should know whether they are covered by insurance before getting into a vehicle. The livery exclusion means if a driver is using their personal vehicle for commercial purposes, the insurance policy doesn’t apply. The driver’s ability to cover damage could be limited to their personal assets, and if they have insurance it might not properly cover all medical bills and property damage, according to news reports.

  • Medical Devices Approved for Children Not Always Tested on Children

    Posted Apr 15th, 2014 By in Child Safety, safety With | Comments Off

    Many medical devices approved for children weren’t tested on children, reveals a recently released study. Nearly all devices were just tested on adults over the age of 18. A representative for Harvard Medical School stated that children shouldn’t be considered smaller adults. A device found safe and effective in adults might have different results when used for children. It is more difficult for children to make educated decisions on a certain treatment without knowing the full benefits and risks of that treatment. The study analyzed the types of testing conducted for medical devices intended for children. 25 medical devices approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for patients under 21-years-old from 2008-2011 were analyzed as part of the study. They analyzed data form a clinical trial which allowed the devices to become approve. 11 of 25 devices weren’t tested on patients 21 and under, according to the study. Four of the devices were tested on patients under 18. Three of them were approved for children, and the other devices were approved for 18-21 year-olds, which is viewed as pediatric by the FDA. Although, many of these devices are approved with the fine print that they must be tested during trials after it’s used commercially to make sure it is safe for young patients.

    Only three devices required that children be included in trials, however. None of the trials were actually completed. A cardiology fellow for the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital said it is more difficult to design devices for children since they are still growing and may need the device for a much longer period of time. It is nearly impossible to predict whether a device will last, and it is difficult to enroll children who have rare diseases in clinical trials due to ethical issues. The government also gives incentives to drug makers to run clinical trials in children, but they don’t offer the same incentives to device makers. An author for the study said many of the devices were also approved through clinical trials that have questionable designs. Other devices were approved through observational studies, rather than controlled trials. Before a device is approved for use in patients it must be deemed safe and effective by the FDA, however their trials don’t always include the same type of patient that will be receiving the device. Parents should discuss with their doctor which devices are recommended for children, and ask what evidence is available to show their safety and effectiveness, according to news reports.

  • Majority of Vehicles Not Fixed After Recall

    Posted Apr 15th, 2014 By in Car Safety, safety With | Comments Off

    Many vehicles aren’t likely to get fixed after a recall is issued, despite the number of recalls in the US reaching its highest point in the last decade. Approximately one-third of all recalled vehicles won’t get repaired, and one in seven recalled automobiles remain on the roadway, shows data from CarFax. Recalled vehicles made by many popular automakers will remain on the road, including Honda, Chrysler, and Toyota. In many cases, drivers are put at risk if they are driving a recalled vehicle. The CEO of GM said their goal is to repair all of the 2.19 vehicles recalled due to a faulty ignition switch linked with 13 fatalities. 15-20% of customers aren’t likely to bring their recalled vehicle to a dealer in order to receive repairs. So far this year, 12 million vehicles were recalled, over half of the 22 million vehicles recalled last year. The publicity around GM’s recall might increase the chances a customer will bring their vehicle in to a dealer for fixes, according to a professor who studies recall response rates. Government statistics show the rate of repairs among Toyota vehicles with sticking gas pedals reached as high as 88%, for instance.

    If a driver is still covered through their warranty, they’re also more likely to have defective parts fixed or replaced. Many owners bring their vehicles in for regular service, and dealers are more likely to fix a recalled car because the automaker reimburses tem. When a warranty is over or the vehicle is sold, drivers are much less likely to bring their vehicle in for fixes. Often, a driver doesn’t want to bring in a recalled vehicle, especially if they’ve been driving the vehicle for many years without any issues. One driver said they owned a recalled vehicle, and put 170,000 miles on it since the recall. Many customers are also afraid the dealer will try to upsell them on other services. Many drivers also don’t realize the vehicle they own is undergoing a recall. They may not receive a notice if they moved, or if they’re not the first owner of the car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency announced new rules that make notices more visible to vehicle owners. The response rate increases when vehicle owners are contacted through other ways including phoning, emails, and mail. Chrysler started these activities and after 18 months the recall response rate increased from 70% to 80%, according to news reports.

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