Midwest News Roundup II

WORKPLACE SAFETY REQUIRES A CLEAR HEAD AND THINKING ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND WHY: A lawyer in Hamilton County, Ohio told a jury that his client who sustained brain damage deserved to be awarded $62 million. The Cincinnati Press reports that, “a chemical company and owner of a railroad car should have to pay at least $62 million to a worker hurt when a 176-pound piece of metal blew off of a railroad car and caused a brain injury so catastrophic he can communicate only by raising or lowering one thumb, the worker's lawyers told a jury today.” A defective weld on a manhole cover allowed the cover to blow off and strike the unsuspecting worker. Common sense and a little thought should have indicated to whoever placed the manhole cover in place that it just might blow off.

BOAT OPERATOR RESPONSIBILITY: As story in the St. Louis Dispatch points out the importance of knowing the lake bottom and depth of the lake. Three men were reported to be seriously injured when the driver ran the boat aground at the 9 mile marker near Twin Island at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Two of the boat occupants were hospitalized. Boat operators are legally responsible for their negligence while operating a water craft.

GANGS AND GUNS: The lights were almost out in Topeka, Kansas for a weary apartment maintenance worker. The Kansas news reporters for WIBW report on an apartment maintenance worker being shot over the noon hour by drive-by shooters. The location is the Oakbrook Apartments in the 3200 block of Twilight Court.

WORK PLACE SAFETY BEING IGNORED: Ansell, a major manufacturer of condoms launched National Construction Worker Hand Safety Month at the 2009 National Hardware Show. Ansell is the company that bought Hawkeye Glove in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Ansell spokespersons state: "In 2007 alone, the construction industry allocated nearly $400 million to disability spending for preventable hand injuries," said Sean Sweeney, senior market development manager for Ansell. "Furthermore, market research has indicated that despite OSHA mandates for personal protective equipment (PPE), an alarming number of construction workers continue to perform their work tasks barehanded, putting them at risk for costly and potentially devastating injuries." I wonder what the tort reform guy from the ATRA thinks of industry manufacturers talking about injuries and the alarming rate of the industry (including workers) ignoring safety regulations? Remember Tiger Joyce, the President of the American Tort Reform Association?

Construction Hand Safety Fast Facts

Hand, finger and arm injuries account for one third of all occupational injuries in the construction field.

Of these, 76% are related to preventable cuts and abrasions.

In 2007, the approximate cost per hand injury per construction professional was $17,000.

On average, preventable hand injuries resulted in five days on downtime per injured worker in the construction field.

CHEERING FOR TORT REFORM FOR IMPROVED SAFETY TO PROTECT TEENS: And in other news Biomedicine reports: CHAPEL HILL A new report on severe sporting injuries among high school and college athletes shows cheerleading appears to account for a larger proportion of all such injuries than previously thought. The latest annual report from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill-based National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research shows high school cheerleading accounted for 65.1 percent of all catastrophic sports injuries among high school females over the past 25 years. Hmmm… not much to cheer about here.

WASTING POLITICAL CAPITAL AND DIVERTING ATTENTION FROM REAL PROBLEMS: And in Missouri, the states attempt to stop homosexual marriages has run into a road block as a state senator drove with a few dozen people to Iowa to get married. KY-3 News reports that, “[a] Missouri state senator married her partner after traveling with more than a dozen other couples to Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal. Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, married Shonda Garrison, her partner of two years, at a ceremony in Iowa City, Iowa. Justus said it was one the best days of her life but also bittersweet. Missouri does not recognize same-sex marriages. A constitutional amendment, approved in 2004, states a marriage is between a man and a woman.”

DRIVER DISTRACTIONS AND PAYING ATTENTION: Students from Manchester, Iowa while riding the school bus to school were in for a shocker when a pickup truck crossed the center line, hitting the bus head-on. Two male passengers in the pickup truck died in the crash. Two children were reportedly injured and were taken to an area hospital.

RUNNING FROM THE LAW, HIT-AND-RUN: The second grader, which we previously reported on, is getting better after being struck near a school by an unidentified driver who left the scene and is being sought. It seems the unidentified driver has trouble here in that the injured boy is the son of an accident investigator for the Omaha Police Department. The injured boy is Jayden Anderson, 9, who is recovery at the Nebraska Medical Center. The car is described as a red four-door with a black stripe down both sides. Anyone with information is asked to call the Pottawattamie county sheriff's office at (712) 328-5737. KETV has this story. Might I suggest the driver see an attorney and arrange for turning yourself in before this gets out of hand.

TREASURE COAST COLLISION: In Florida’s Treasure Coast area of Palm Beach eight people were injured in a nine-car crash. Three vehicles under up on fire and an unlikely 18-year-old hero emerged from his pickup truck to pull people out of burning cars. The TC Palm reports that “Lt. Tim Frith of the Florida Highway Patrol said the accidents happened because Noah Schou, 23, of Deltona, failed to realize the traffic ahead of him had stopped and drove his 2004 flatbed truck into the back of Moreno’s 2000 Ford pickup, setting off the chain-reaction collision. Schou, who was uninjured, was charged with careless driving.”

BUILDING DESIGN DEFECTS: The Dallas Cowboys Football Team practice facility collapsed on May 2, 2009, paralyzing a scout and injuring 11 other people. CNN reports, “[m]eanwhile, the CEO of a company that makes similar buildings says he believes fewer people would have been injured if the Cowboys' facility had been supported by air rather than a metal frame. About 70 people -- including players, coaches, staff and media -- were inside the metal-framed structure for a rookie mini-camp practice when a line of heavy thunderstorms hit the dome. Video from the incident shows the lights swinging violently from the dome's ceiling seconds before the ceiling crashes to the ground. Players and coaches rushed to help those trapped. "It was as if someone took a stick pin and hit a balloon," said photographer Arnold Payne, who was shooting the practice for CNN affiliate WFAA-TV.” It was raining hard at the time of the collapse. You can watch video at the following link. I wonder if the tort reform guy blames this one on the lawyers?

FIRE AT UCLA LAB KILLS RESEARCH ASSISTANT/FAILURE TO PROPERLY TRAIN: UCLA was fined after a research assistant was burned over 43% of her body with second and third degree burns while occupying a chemistry lab that caught fire. She suffered for 18 days before dying. What was she doing? Sangji was transferring about two ounces of t-butyl lithium from one sealed container to another when a plastic syringe came apart in her hands, splashing her with a chemical compound that ignites instantly when exposed to air.

The resulting flash fire set ablaze her rubber gloves and synthetic sweater. The Los Angeles Times reports an investigation by “the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health concluded that Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji, 23, had not been properly trained and was not wearing protective clothing when an experiment exploded, spreading second- and third-degree burns over 43% of her body. She died 18 days later.”

T-butyl lithium is a highly flammable compound. A more indepth discussion can be found on the Chemistry Blog by Mitch.

Update 1: More experimental details are coming out.

A 23 year old female research associate/laboratory technician intended to add an (unknown) aliquot of 1.6 M t-bu-Li (in pentane) to a round bottom flask, placed in a dry ice/acetone bath. She had been employed in the lab for about 3 months. The incident occurred on Dec. 29, during the UCLA holiday shutdown between Christmas and New Years. Researchers are granted permission to work during the shut down for “critical research needs.” There were two post doctoral researchers working in the lab and the adjacent lab, with limited English proficiency.


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