Tag: safety

Did You See That? A Cell Phone Distracted World

cell-phone-userQuick, where is your cell phone? A pretty accurate guess for most readers is your cell phone is within arm’s reach, if not in your pocket or your hands. It probably has at least some portion of your attention right now, even as you’re reading this.

With the average person checking their phone 150 times a day, it’s clear that cell phones are ingrained in human behavior. The changes cell phones have made in daily lives has lead to a new, growing safety concern in the form of distracted walking.

Attention (the ability to concentrate on an activity for a prolonged period of time without getting distracted) is shrinking at an alarming rate, resulting in many unintentional injuries. From 2010 to 2011, there were more than 11,000 injuries due to distracted walking! Fifty-two percent of distracted walking injuries occur at home, with 54 percent to people 40 and younger, and nearly 80 percent of these injuries are due to falls. Instead of paying attention to where we are and what we’re doing, we’re trying to multitask and paying the price for it. Need more proof? Watch this video:

The human brain was not designed for divided attention (completing two tasks requiring the same concentration at the same time). When a cell phone user tries to walk at the same time, they’re missing out on significant cues, ultimately walking off course, stepping into traffic, or missing out on what’s going on around them. In a study conducted at Western Washington University, approximately 75 percent of cell phone users suffered from inattention blindness, failing to notice an out of place unicylcing clown in the square where they were walking. Just as inattention blindness contributes to vehicle collisions, it has also contributed to the rise in unintentional injuries from distracted walking.

To fix a safety issue, the typical steps are identifying the hazard and then:

  1. Eliminate the hazard when possible,
  2. Guard against hazards that cannot be eliminated
  3. Warn for hazards that can’t be eliminated or guarded against
  4. Change human behavior when there are no other options.

The hazard of distracted walking poses problems for the traditional eliminate, guard, and warn against options. Cell phones cannot be eliminated from every day life. Options to guard against the dangers of distracted walking are limited. Some restaurants are knocking out cell phone coverage to increase social interaction and minimize distractions but it is not a viable solution for public streets. Warnings can be sent via text/pop up messages but with distracted attention on cell phones, most will not be noticed or will be ignored.

This leaves us with the only, last option, to change human behavior. This is the least effective and slowest moving option for safety. Just look how long it took for regular seat belt usage to be the normal! Teaching ourselves to stop texting, tweeting, sharing, posting, and searching the internet while walking is going to a long, drawn out road. Abraham Lincoln couldn’t foresee the cell phone issue but he recognized human nature. “Human action can be modified to some extent but human nature cannot be changed,” Lincoln said.

Listen in as Kevin King discusses the issue of distracted walking and how it relates to our safety on People’s Law Talk.

It’s a newer, twenty-first century problem, but the statistics and facts on the distractions of cell phones, including the distracted walking hazard, are already rolling in. Check out these resources for more details on the issue:

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

A Turf Battle: The Safety Hazards of Synthetic Turf

artificial-turfSpring, along with park visits and soccer games, will return soon. The season will bring the worry parents have about sports safety and playground equipment safety, but there’s an even more concerning safety issues you may not even be aware of. It’s the ground children play on: synthetic turf.

Made from crumb rubber, rubber primarily from recycled tires, synthetic fields contain chemicals, metals, and carcinogens. Manufacturers currently say their fields are safe, the levels of these metals and chemicals are minimal and at safe levels, not posing threats to humans. With more than 11,000 synthetic fields across the country at schools and parks, in addition to many playgrounds that currently utilize crumb rubber, there is a lot of the rubber out there with little conclusive information on the health hazards they pose.

Synthetic fields and rubber filler for playgrounds were supposed to be a solution for the growing used tire problems. It recycled a product that couldn’t naturally decompose and also provided a cheap, long-wear, easy maintenance options for schools and parks. Now, more than anything, the crumb rubber has raised a lot of questions about its safety for those who play in/on it.

A small handful of studies have been conducted regarding the use of synthetic turfs but the studies have not been large enough to concretely determine if there is a risk to health from them. In an interview with the Huffington Post, EPA spokeswoman Laura Allen stated the current existing studies conducted by local, state, and federal government agencies “were not designed, nor were they sufficient in size or scope, to draw conclusions about the safety of all fields across the nation.” With the growing concerns and the lack of research, in 2016 the EPA started new research on recycled tire crumb used in playing fields.

Outside of the limited and ongoing research, multiple people have been informally tracking cancer diagnosis of athletes who regularly played on synthetic fields. Amy Griffin, former goalkeeper for the US National team, has tracked a correlation between artificial fields and cancer diagnosis in more than 200 athletes. Ethan Zohn, a former professional goalkeeper who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, has also tracked more than fifty athletes that once played on synthetic fields who now have cancer. Though the correlation does not equal causation, there are a lot of similarities in their lists that need to be explored further, including the fact that the majority of these athletes have been diagnosed with Lymphoma, outpacing Leukemia, the most common cancer in young adults.

With mounting concerns and lack of research, some school boards and local municipalities have already put a freeze on installation of new crumb fields, with some going as far to remove and replace fields they already had installed. While we wait on new research from the EPA to be completed, we also need to stop and demand more from the manufacturers. The questions now being posed, the concerns about health related safety of the fields, should have been addressed with thorough hazard and risks analysis before being released as a product option.  Their product engineers are the first line to consumer safety.

What do you think? Are you concerned with the hazards of crumb rubber? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook.

Additional Reading:
Worries Mount Over Potential Link Between Artificial Turf And Cancer from The Huffington Post
Turf Battle: The Controversy Over Crumb Rubber Playing Fields from CBS Denver
Federal Research on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields from the EPA

Bouncing Into Injury: Trampoline Hazards & Risks

TrampolineThat common backyard toy your kids continue to ask you for is more than just a toy; trampolines are a money pit and injury waiting to happen.

In 2013 alone there were more than 286,000 reported injuries due to trampolines including broken bones, spinal injuries, and head injuries. Ninety percent of the injuries were from kids ages 5-13. You might believe adult supervision and safety nets could reduce these injuries but that is not the case. One third of these injuries occurred while under adult supervision and there is no data showing that trampoline netting helps reduce injuries.

What’s the cost of all of this? In 2014, trampoline injuries had an economic cost of $9 BILLION from medical and legal cost to time off of work and pain and suffering.

Listen in as Kevin King discusses the hazards and risks of backyard trampolines. He’ll also discuss how trampoline parks are equally dangerous and what steps you have to take to stay safe if you are determined to keep a backyard trampoline.

Want more information on the hazards of trampolines? Review these articles and position statements.

Trampoline Park and Home Trampoline Injuries from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Trampoline Safety in Childhood Adolescence from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Trampolines and Trampoline Safety from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Trampolines Are Dangerous Even with Nets from momsTeam

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

The Numbers Are Shocking

StatisticsFor more than 90 years the National Safety Council has published Injury Facts, a reference source for safety statistics. The 2015 version has just been released and the some of the safety statistics are alarming.

If one desires to understand how well the United States is doing in safety, the Injury Facts provide a shocking insight regarding statistical data of injuries, death, and economic impact upon our society. To show you just how serious and far-spread the impact can be, we’ve pulled some statistics from Injury Reports 2015 to share.

Unintentional injury related deaths in 2013, including all accidental injures and positioning, were approximately 130,800. It excludes homicides, suicides, and war deaths. Unintentional injury related deaths are the number one cause of death for the age group of 1-44.

Breaking that number down, there were approximately 35,500 motor vehicle injury related deaths, 66,000 home injury related deaths, and 3,738 work injury related deaths, with agriculture (i.e. farming, forestry, fishing, and hunting)being the highest occupation for unintentional injury related deaths.

There were approximately 39,600,000 non-fatal medically consulted injuries. This translates into about 1 out of 8 Americans seeking medical attention for injuries. There were approximately 4.3 million automobile related injuries, 20 million home related injuries, and 4.8 million work related injuries.

From an economic standpoint, the impact of fatal and non-fatal unintentional injuries amounted to almost $821 billion in 2013, equivalent to approximately $6,700 per household. These are the costs that every household pays directly through higher prices for goods, services, or taxes.

Besides the $821 billion in economic losses, the lost quality of life is estimated at an additional $4,254 billion, making the comprehensive costs approximately $5,074 billion in 2013. To provide you with a yardstick for comparison, the Department of Defense budget for fiscal year 2013 was $525.4 billion. Unintentional injuries cost almost 10 times that in 2013!

We have a long way to go toward a safer society. Remember, it is cheaper to put the fence at the top of the cliff than pay for the ambulance below. True safety begins with recognition of hazards and risks in the design of products, procedures, and environments to eliminate the hazards to the extent reasonably possible for a safer society.

Unavailing Safety Slogans

Safety Slogan Door Sign“Be Safe.” “Stay Alert.” “Drive Safely.” “Choose Safety.”

Safety slogans are abundant. Many are also abundantly unclear and ineffective.

The picture to the right is a sign on the door handle of a service truck. It provides an excellent example of why safety slogans are ineffective. Each slogan also demonstrates how product designs can be updated to include important systems, making safety slogans unnecessary.

First, this slogan does nothing to identify or eliminate hazards. The wording “maintain three points of contact with the vehicle” can be eliminated by incorporating near object detection devices into the vehicle during the design.

Second, the wording “always wear your seat belt” is not necessary if you have a system which has a constant buzzing noise or perhaps ignition interlock which prevents the vehicle from starting until the seat belt is engaged.

Third, the wording “turn off/put away all distractions” is not necessary if you have a system that blocks the phone signal (absent an emergency) while the vehicle is in operation. Perhaps this system would not be popular with consumers. However, humans have very poor divided attention abilities.

Fourth, if the poorly thought out slogan is to be used on this service truck, why is it on the outside by the door handle and not the inside to provide a constant reminder to the driver?

So, what does “be safe” really mean? This is the problem with poorly thought out slogans. The slogans are subject to various interpretations.

Safety is not common sense. What is common to you may not be common to another person. Safety, a science that identifies hazards, risks, and safety engineering alternatives, cannot be addressed by vague safety slogans. Safety begins long before a product or system reaches consumers.

A Very Safe and Happy Thanksgiving

Kitchen FireIt’s that time of year. Turkeys, families, football…Thanksgiving Day is almost here. This is supposed to be a day for us to enjoy our families and celebrate all we’ve been given.

Unfortunately, there are approximately 1400 house fires on Thanksgiving day every year. Why do household fires triple on this special day? How can you keep safe? Listen in as Kevin King discusses the risks that occur on Thanksgiving and what steps you can take to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your home out of the statistics book.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.