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Portland Oregon Personal Injury Law Blog

Red-light cameras in decline despite clear benefits

Drivers in Oregon should understand just how dangerous running a red light can be. This practice is behind hundreds of fatal crashes every year. More than 800 people died from red-light running collisions in 2016, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In a AAA Foundation survey, 92.9% of respondents agreed that red-light running is unacceptable behavior, yet 42.7% admitted to doing it at least once in the 30 days prior to the survey.

There is one good way to lower the number of red-light running violations and crashes, and that's to install cameras at unsafe intersections. The IIHS has long attested to the benefits of cameras with data showing that they reduce violations by some 40%. Comparing large cities with red-light cameras to those without them, the IIHS found that the former saw 21% fewer fatalities from red-light running crashes.

New wearable tech may improve ergonomics among warehouse workers

In an attempt to improve work safety conditions, many warehouse owners in Oregon and across the U.S. may do nothing more than assert the existing standards without regard to individual employees. It can be difficult to apply a standard when 35% of all workplace injuries are because of poor ergonomic practices.

However, an ergonomics tech company called Soter Analytics offers wearable tech that can give employees specific information to help them safely perform risky tasks. Called SoterSpine, the device is connected to the back of an employee's shirt. It notes every time that the employee bends or shifts position and then determines in real time if the employee is about to make a movement that's hazardous to health or safety.

What support do you need to get back to work?

A work accident can bring significant changes to a person's life. From your ability to simply show up and do your job to the medical bills you'll have to pay for, your work-related injuries will affect many things. Thankfully, through a workers' compensation claim, you'll have the ability to address your financial concerns during your recovery.

The intent of workers' compensation is to provide injured Oregon workers with help after an accident on the job. These benefits are also available to individuals who become ill as a result of their work. In addition to coverage of your medical expenses and recovery of some of your lost wages, you also have the ability to secure certain types of support that can help you when it's time to get back to work. You do not have to navigate this transition alone.

AAA Foundation: Drivers get distracted by car safety features

If asked what sort of distractions are common behind the wheel, most drivers in Oregon would likely answer with smartphone use, talking with passengers and eating/drinking. However, a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the use of vehicle safety features can make drivers just as inattentive as any of the above. In fact, it can significantly raise the risk for a car crash.

Researchers examined the safety features on the Tesla Model S, the Acura MDX, the Jeep Cherokee and a wide range of other vehicles. They pinpointed adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist as being the two most distracting features. The former adjusts the car's speed without driver input to maintain a safe following distance while the latter moves the steering wheel to avoid lane drifting.

NSC calls on employers to help stem rise in work-related deaths

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,250 work-related fatalities in 2018 whereas there were 5,147 in 2017. This comes to an increase of 2%. However, the fatality rate was the same 3.5% per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Oregon residents should know that the National Safety Council has cited these and other findings in a recent statement to employers.

In the statement, the NSC calls on employers to take a more systematic approach to worker safety. It must go beyond providing training and up-to-date protective equipment and cover things like risk assessment techniques. Above all, those in leadership roles must help to shape the workplace culture into one that is more safety-oriented.

Bill seeks to make drunk driving prevention devices mandatory

When it comes to the effects of drunk driving, people in Oregon have plenty to be concerned about. Despite massive law enforcement efforts and widespread public awareness campaigns, 30 people across the country are killed every day in car crashes linked to driving under the influence. Some lawmakers think that technological solutions can help stop drunk driving before intoxicated people get behind the wheel. They take inspiration from a common penalty applied to people convicted of DUI: Ignition interlock devices are essentially in-car breathalyzers that verify that a driver's breath is free of alcohol before the car can be started.

When people install an ignition interlock device after a drunk driving conviction and remove it after the mandatory period of use, the bills can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. However, most of that cost does not reflect the expense of the actual device but rather functions as another form of fine. Members of Congress want to make more advanced versions of the ignition interlock device standard equipment on all new cars by 2024, making the devices smaller, cheaper and more accurate along the way. The bipartisan sponsors of the Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) Act of 2019 say that their proposal can save 7,000 lives every year.

Warehouse injuries on the rise

According to data maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the injury rate for full-time warehouse workers is the same as for farmers at 5.1 injuries per 100 workers. Additionally, the number of warehouse work-related fatalities doubled from 11 to 22 each year over the course of only two years, from 2015 to 2017. The reasons behind the increased risk of warehouse injuries in Oregon and across the country might be attributed to the rapidly increasing pace of warehouse jobs.

Warehousing and shipping mega-giant Amazon sells more than 4,000 products every minute of every day and manages more than 150 million square feet of warehousing space. The race to automate warehousing tasks will likely eventually replace human workers with robots and artificial intelligence. In the meantime, however, there is an increase in the stress, repetitiveness and pace of warehouse jobs. There are also new hazards in the warehousing industry as companies are working with new technologies.

Did you know that cold stress could be deadly?

Winters in Portland and across Oregon are typically frigid, and although rain is more likely than snow, cold stress remains a significant occupational hazard. If you work in construction, agriculture, or even if your job has you spending hours in freezers, your life may be on the line. Do not lose sight of the fact that cold stress-related conditions can cause amputations or even death, although it is entirely preventable.

Although your employer is responsible for your health and safety, there is a whole lot you can do to stay safe this winter. It all starts with gaining knowledge about the different hazards and learning how to recognize symptoms of cold stress and what do if you notice red flags in yourself or a co-worker.

Study considers link between opioids and fatal two-car crashes

Oregon residents may be taking opioids either for chronic pain or acute injuries. If it is for the former, they may not be so affected by the drug's psychomotor and cognitive effects. If it is for the latter, they are at a greater risk for impairment. In either case, it is inadvisable to mix opioid use with driving because one can become drowsy behind the wheel and cause a crash.

In 1993, 2% of drivers who caused crashes tested positive for opioids. In 2016, that percentage was 7.1%. Though physicians are writing fewer opioid prescriptions, the nation is still undergoing an opioid crisis, and this is affecting people's safety on the road. A study published in JAMA Network Open has recently explored the possible role that opioids play in fatal two-car crashes in particular.

WHO: employee burnout now a diagnosable condition

Many workers in Oregon feel exhausted by their job to the point where they can no longer concentrate on it and carry out their duties professionally. They may regard their job in a mentally distant way and hold negative or cynical thoughts about it. These symptoms suggest a condition called burnout, and according to the World Health Organization, it is now diagnosable.

The WHO defines it, in its occupational context only, as a syndrome that arises from work-related stress that has not been successfully managed. It may be one day that the condition will be classed as an occupational illness, which could make it easier for workers to file a claim over it.

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