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Construction workers' safety equipment can save lives

Many workers in Connecticut know just how important safety hardware can be on the job, especially in dangerous conditions or when working at great heights. This was vividly illustrated by the family of a worker who was injured in the March 2018 bridge collapse at Florida International University, where a recently installed 950-ton bridge crashed to the ground above a busy highway. One worker at the bridge heard a cracking sound and then locked his harness, according to his cousin, who attributes his cousin's life to the safety equipment.

The cousin told reporters that the worker does not remember much of the incident and only repeats certain details, like hearing the sound and deciding to lock down his protective workplace safety equipment. She said that seconds after locking the harness, he fell to the ground and could have died in the workplace accident. He still suffered damage to his nose, mouth and eye as well as fracturing his shoulder in the incident. Six people, including drivers on the road below and one construction worker, were killed in the bridge collapse.

Worker injuries at stake with fall arrest systems

Connecticut employees who work in high places are often at risk of on-the-job injuries and accidents. Since these types of worksites are associated with damaging falls and other injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established strong standards for fall arrest equipment. One of these regulations sets the strength of anchor points that can be used at work sites as part of a fall arrest program.

While many safety experts believe that these regulations require every anchor point to support a capacity of 5,000 pounds per person, this is not a precise reflection of the standard. The rule requires that every anchor point must support at least 5,000 pounds or twice the amount of force incurred by a fall of an average worker. OSHA has specified that the average weight of a worker is 220 pounds. However, twice the amount of force incurred by a falling 220-pound worker does not equate to 5,000 pounds. Depending on the location, it could range from 1,800 to 3,600 pounds per person.

OSHA enforcement necessary to protect workers

For employees in Connecticut and across the United States, the threat of workplace accidents and injuries is all too real. Far too many workers face unsafe conditions on a daily basis. The former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration emphasized in testimony before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives that in order to provide protections for these workers, strong enforcement and implementation of standards is necessary, because voluntary employer programs tend to be ineffective in improving workplace conditions.

Because programs like the Voluntary Protection Plan involve only one employer at a time, these types do not produce benefits for the vast majority of workers in a particular industry. On the contrary, the employers that participate in initiatives like the VPP tend to be work sites that already enjoy a high level of safety and that work to protect against unsafe working conditions. While these are the best employers in the market, he said, involving them in voluntary programs does not provide any improvement for workers who face dangerous conditions elsewhere.

How U.S. road safety can improve with governors' help

State governors have a key role to play in the improvement of road conditions in Connecticut and across America. This is the position of a report from the National Governors Association. The purpose of the report is to provide governors with concrete strategies and recommendations that they can use when pushing for safety improvements in their states.

First, governors can coordinate efforts between the various agencies in their state, such as the highway safety offices. When these agencies can communicate their proposals to each other under the governor's leadership, they could come to a faster consensus on how to move forward. The governor should also look into existing efforts and, using the policy development tools provided in the report, work towards strengthening them. The report is titled a "road map" and can be used as a whole or in part, depending on the unique needs of each state. With governors at the helm, the NGA hopes that safety conditions could be improved to the point that no traffic fatalities ever occur.

Signs of nursing home abuse: What to look for

There is nothing worse than the thought of a loved one becoming the victim of nursing home abuse. Unfortunately, there are nursing home workers out there who continually break the law, often at the expense of the health and well being of elderly residents.

There is more than one form of nursing home abuse. The most common types include:

  • Physical abuse, perpetrated by the staff or another resident
  • Emotional abuse, including things such as harassment and isolation
  • Sexual abuse, perpetrated by the staff or another resident
  • Neglect, which can lead to bed sores, malnutrition and falls

Mental health could be factor in women's workplace injuries

When Connecticut employees try to leave their problems at home when they go to work, the challenge might be harder for women than men. A research study that surveyed nearly 17,000 people employed in a variety of industries who made workers' compensation claims looked specifically at the relationship between workplace accidents and depression, anxiety and fatigue. Although men suffered more injuries on the job, women who reported having behavioral health challenges had a greater risk of getting hurt at work.

The lead author of the study recommended that employers adopt a holistic approach to workplace safety. This effort should go beyond basic safety programs and strive to integrate well-being and safety.

Help keep your child's stress down during and after divorce

Divorce is a stressful process for couples, and that stress can continue well after the divorce is finalized if there is a child custody case involved. Most parents realize that stress isn't healthy, but they might not recognize all of its negative effects on their children.

When you are going through these situations, make sure that you protect your kids from getting overly stressed. Stress can spread from one person to another. Just because children are young doesn't mean they are immune to stress.

Warning technologies can help drivers avoid crashes

For drivers in Connecticut and throughout the country, collision avoidance technologies like lane departure warning systems or blind spot alerts can help to reduce the number of car accidents and related injuries. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety based on 2015 data showed that the presence of these technologies had a beneficial effect on road safety.

IIBS researchers looked at over 5,000 car accidents of the type that these technologies are meant to avoid. The researchers also examined statistics and interactions of vehicles that were equipped with the warning technologies. They found that these targeted crash types, including sideswipe, single-vehicle and head-on collisions, declined by 11 percent among vehicles equipped with the warning systems. More significantly, crashes involving personal injuries declined by 21 percent in cars that had the technologies on-board. The IIHS estimated that if all vehicles in 2015 had been equipped with these technologies, over 55,000 traffic injuries could have been avoided.

Tips for avoiding cold stress while working

In Connecticut, working outside during the winter comes with certain hazards. Workers are especially at a risk for developing cold stress, which occurs when skin temperature and internal temperature get so low that the body cannot warm itself. The three main types of cold stress include hypothermia, frostbite and trench foot.

The condition of hypothermia is where the body loses more heat than it can put out. It occurs when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Of the three types of cold stress, hypothermia is the deadliest. Frostbite is when the body's skin, and the tissue below it, become frozen. It often affects the fingers, toes, cheek, nose and ears. If left untreated, frostbite can cause permanent damage and even make amputation necessary. Trench foot is a skin condition caused by prolonged immersion in a wet and cold environment.

Common misconceptions about marriage

Many Connecticut residents have misconceptions about marriage and what causes them to fail. By understanding the difference between the myths and reality, people may take steps that might enable their marriages to last.

A common myth about marriage is that active listening helps to save relationships. While active listening is a good method to resolve conflict, research shows that it has no effect on whether or not a marriage might be saved. Some couples who are happily married have frequent fights and do just fine. For some people, active listening might mean that they are bottling up their emotions instead of working through them with their spouses.

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