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Walking in a winter wonderland increases accident risks

Keep "Walking"

I don’t know if this is going to apply this year where I live, but it might be useful to you:

The recent winter weather that rolled through North Carolina left an icy mess in its wake, and as a recent report aired on WNCT9 reminds us, that ice can make even a simple activity like walking dangerous.

Officials urged everyone to stay home and off the roads during the storm and its aftermath, resulting in the closure of many schools and businesses. Even as things began to return to normal, people raised concerns about the condition of roads and sidewalks. Although major streets were cleared, the majority of side streets were still not cleared or treated and were very dangerous to navigate.

East Carolina University college students were interviewed for the report, and they expressed concern over the still treacherous conditions of the roads in the area, in particular, the areas around 10th Street.

Many students who live in apartments in that area and walk to classes voiced concern about the increased risks of slipping and falling on ice, not only on the sidewalks they travel on to get to campus, but they were also concerned about the condition of the walkways on the campus itself.

Situations like these often raise the question of who exactly is responsible when a person sustains injuries from slipping and falling on ice. Can a slip and fall victim sue the property owner for damages for those injuries?

In most states, the answer to that question is pretty clear – yes, the victim can sue the property owner if they are injured because they slipped on an icy area on the property.

In North Carolina, however, the answer is not so clear because this state has a section in its personal injury statutes called “contributory negligence.” This means that even if a victim is only 1 percent at fault for their fall, they are barred from suing the property owner.

What types of behavior or activity would be considered contributory negligence in a slip and fall accident?

If a victim was talking on their phone or looking at something that was going on across the street as they were walking, the courts could consider that contributory negligence because the victim was not paying attention. Walking too fast when they fell could also be another reason the court would consider the victim was partly at fault for the fall.

Personal injury attorney Ben Whitley commented, “If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, there are important steps you should take such as documenting details about the environment your fall took place in and obtaining the names of any witnesses to the incident. You should also contact the property owner right away.”

With a few more winter months ahead of us, the chances are great that there will be more stormy weather to contend with. Greenville’s Vidant Medical Center has seen an increase in the number of patients who have been injured in falls and offers the following safety tips when dealing with icy conditions:

  • Make sure to wear the appropriate footwear. Ideally, wear shoes or boots which have traction on the soles that can grip. Footwear with smooth soles increase the risk of slipping;
  • Walk slowly and take smaller steps than you usually do;
  • Keep hands out of your pockets to help maintain your balance. If there are handrails, use them. Try to avoid toting or carrying heavy items; and
  • When you are getting in our out of a vehicle, use it to support yourself.
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Playground tragedy highlights need for equipment safety vigilance

Sliding Board Fun

Just what every parent wants to hear:

The horrific incidents of two children having their fingers amputated after going down steel slides and the resulting recall of those slides is being reported by Good Housekeeping. The recall has been issued by the slide manufacturer, Playworld, as a result of at least 13 reported incidents of children getting cut from the defective slides.

According to information released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are approximately 1,300 slides being recalled. The slides were manufactured between 2000 through 2016 and sold to schools, municipalities, and parks across the country. These slides range in price from $1,500 to $4,000.

The problem with the slides appears to be that the stainless-steel equipment can develop a crack between the slide bed and sidewall weld. This crack can be wide enough for a child’s fingers to become caught in as they are sliding down. This is what happened to the two children whose fingers were amputated.

School officials and other municipal administrators are urged to not allow children to use the slides. The company is issuing free slide replacements and are also sending out temporary barriers to those who request them which will keep children off the slides.  

Unfortunately, the recalled products do not have any identifying marks to indicate to parents whether or not the slide their child is going to use is part of the recall.

Parents are urged to carefully inspect any slides their child is going to use, looking for any cracks or holes in the slide bed. It is critical to note that cracks may not be easily seen and a visual inspection does not guarantee that the equipment is safe.

Personal injury attorney Chad McCoy commented, “Incidents like these where children are injured by playground equipment serve as stark reminder of past dangers that have been associated with these products.”

Data collected by the CPSC found that there are more than 200,000 children who are injured in playgrounds each year, often from broken or defective playground equipment.

Some of the more common injuries suffered by children from these incidents include amputations, broken or fractured bones, concussions, dislocations, and internal injuries.

Tragically, not only have children suffered serious injuries from defective slides and other equipment, but there have also been children killed when their clothes or a part of their body has gotten caught in holes, gaps, or protrusions in the slides.

Many children have also been seriously burned from using bare metal slides that become extremely hot from sun exposure. Other exposed metal equipment, such as swings or see-saws, can also cause serious burns.

This is why it is so important to make sure to carefully check any equipment that your child is going to play on. It is also important to make sure that your child is dressed appropriately, wearing a shirt and pants, to protect from cuts and burns. Also make sure that there is nothing dangling from the clothing which could get caught in the equipment.

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Some toy recalls remain ineffective

presents under the Christmas tree

Parents around the globe recently watched their children unwrap the toys they have been waiting months to receive. But while parents like to think that the toys they purchased for their child will only bring joy, that is not always the case.

According to the WashPIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Foundation’s yearly report, Trouble in Toyland, toys can stay on the shelves – and within reach of parents and children – even after they have been recalled.

The foundation found that many recalled toys are still being sold, and that there is a particular problem with these toys that are being sold online. A glockenspiel (a xylophone-like instrument) was recalled in February of 2016 due to lead found in the paint, which can be harmful if ingested.

A few months later in June of 2016, a remote-controlled toy that flies through the air was found to have a defective USB cord, which could overheat and cause burns, or even fire damage.

And a pencil case that relied on two magnets to close was found to be a potential hazard as the magnets could be ingested, causing severe internal damage to a child’s intestines as the magnets connected internally.

These were just three of the defective products the WashPIRG found in their latest study, and it indicates a huge problem when it comes to the selling of toys.

Attorney Jim Higgins commented, “Parents of course, need to perform their own due diligence by buying age-appropriate toys and regularly looking for recalled items. However, it is understandable that when parents see toys for sale, whether on a store’s shelves or online, they assume the product is safe for their children to use.”

Under Washington state law, manufacturers and retail stores cannot legally sell a toy they know is defective or has been recalled. And it is the store’s responsibility to remove recalled toys from shelves.

Because of this, parents of children that have been injured by a toy that was purchased after its recall date may have a product liability case that they can bring against the retail store – even when that store is online.

This law may be the only protection parents have, but they must be able to prove that the child suffered injuries, and that the injuries were due to the defective toy. Simply purchasing a defective product is not enough to take a product liability case to court.

Recall for Eggo waffles

Pumpkin Spice Eggo Waffles, Kellogg's, 9/2016, pics by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube #Pumpkin #Spice #Eggo #Waffles

Listeria across 25 states:

Kellogg announced Monday that it has voluntarily recalled about 10,000 cases of Eggo waffles in 25 states due to potential listeria contamination.

Listeria can cause serious health issues in children, pregnant women, elderly people and individuals with weakened immune systems. Kellogg said it has not received any reports of illness, but is recalling boxes of frozen waffles out of caution.

Customers who have purchased 10-count boxes of Kellogg’s Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat Waffles with a UPC code of 3800 40370 and a Best If Used By Date of Nov. 21, 2017, should discard the items immediately. The company is offering refunds for discarded products.

How work can lead to suicide in a globalized economy

businesswoman-stressed-by-laptop-ThinkstockPhoto

By Sarah Waters, University of Leeds and Jenny Chan, University of Oxford

A Paris prosecutor recently called for the former CEO and six senior managers of telecoms provider, France Télécom, to face criminal charges for workplace harassment. The recommendation followed a lengthy inquiry into the suicides of a number of employees at the company between 2005 and 2009. The prosecutor accused management of deliberately “destabilising” employees and creating a “stressful professional climate” through a company-wide strategy of “harcèlement moral” – psychological bullying.

All deny any wrongdoing and it is now up to a judge to decide whether to follow the prosecutor’s advice or dismiss the case. If it goes ahead, it would be a landmark criminal trial, with implications far beyond just one company.

Workplace suicides are sharply on the rise internationally, with increasing numbers of employees choosing to take their own lives in the face of extreme pressures at work. Recent studies in the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, India and Taiwan all point to a steep rise in suicides in the context of a generalised deterioration in working conditions.

Rising suicides are part of the profound transformations in the workplace that have taken place over the past 30 years. These transformations are arguably rooted in the political and economic shift to globalisation that has radically altered the way we work.

In the post-war Fordist era of industry (pioneered by US car manufacturer Henry Ford), jobs generally provided stability and a clear career trajectory for many, allowing people to define their collective identity and their place in the world. Strong trade unions in major industrial sectors meant that employees could negotiate their working rights and conditions.

But today’s globalised workplace is characterised by job insecurity, intense work, forced redeployments, flexible contracts, worker surveillance, and limited social protection and representation. Zero-hour contracts are the new norm for many in the hospitality and healthcare industries, for example.

Now, it is not enough simply to work hard. In the words of Marxist theorist Franco Berardi, “the soul is put to work” and workers must devote their whole selves to the needs of the company.

For the economist Guy Standing, the precariat is the new social class of the 21st century, characterised by the lack of job security and even basic stability. Workers move in and out of jobs which give little meaning to their lives. This shift has had deleterious effects on many people’s experience of work, with rising cases of acute stress, anxiety, sleep disorders, burnout, hopelessness and, in some cases, suicide.

Holding companies to account

Yet, company bosses are rarely held to account for inflicting such misery on their employees. The suicides at France Télécom preceded another well-publicised case in a large multinational company – Foxconn Technology Group in China – where 18 young migrant workers aged between 17 and 25 attempted suicide at one of Foxconn’s main factories in 2010 (14 of whom died).

The victims all worked on the assembly line making electronic gadgets for some of the world’s richest corporations, including Samsung, Sony and Dell. But it was Apple that received the most criticism, as Foxconn was its main supplier at the time.

Labour rights activists argue that corporations such as Apple and their contracted suppliers should be jointly responsible for creating the working conditions and management pressure that might have triggered workplace suicides. Extensive interviews with one of the Foxconn survivors, a woman called Tian Yu who was 17-years-old when she attempted suicide, detailed a harsh production regime. She said she had to work 12-hour shifts, skipped meals to work overtime and often only had one day off every second week.

Foxconn assembly line.
EPA

Apple published a set of standards for how workers should be treated in the aftermath, but its suppliers continued to be dogged by accusations that these were breached. In December 2014, for example, the BBC ran a documentary called “Apple’s Broken Promises” which showed how the company had failed to improve working conditions four years after the crisis. Undercover filming showed exhausted workers falling asleep on 12-hour shifts and workers being yelled at repeatedly by managers at new supplier, Pegatron Shanghai, where the latest iPhones are assembled.

Pegatron said in response to the BBC investigation that it would investigate the reports and take necessary action if any deficiencies were found in their factories. Apple maintains that it does do all it can to monitor its supplier’s practices with its annual supplier responsibility reports. Meanwhile, labour rights activists and researchers continue to allege abuse of workers in the company’s supply chains.

Writing at the end of the 19th century, French sociologist Emile Durkheim suggested that suicide was a kind of mirror to society that revealed the fundamental nature of the social order at a given historical juncture. France Télécom and Foxconn are at different ends of the globalisation spectrum – one employs white-collar workers in high-tech service occupations and the other recruits young rural migrants to work on the assembly line. Yet suicides in these two places reveal the common face of a global economic order that too often allows profit to take precedence over all else.

Meanwhile it continues to be business as usual for many of the richest multinational corporations in the world. But it’s high time that all corporations across the spectrum took responsibility for their own abuses.

The Conversation

Sarah Waters, Senior Lecturer in French Studies, University of Leeds and Jenny Chan, Departmental Lecturer in Sociology and China Studies, University of Oxford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Preventing Injuries at An Amusement Park

Amusement parks can be a great source of fun for people of all ages. Millions of people every year attend local county fairs, church homecomings, school festivals and large commercial amusement parks where roller coasters and thrill rides are plentiful. Most people climb aboard these rides and do not question the safety.

However, thousands are injured every year most commonly seeking medical attention for head injuries, broken bones, and back injuries.

When you and your family plan a fun outing to an amusement park, you are most likely not anticipating anyone getting hurt. You simply trust that the rides are in good working order and the staff is properly trained in operating the rides and providing for your safety. However, stories like this show that accidents can and do happen.
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Scientists rename thyroid tumor, say cancer is overdiagnosed

All About Papillary Thyroid Cancer Remedy And Treatments

The overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer has been an ongoing and steadily escalating issue over the past few decades. In 1992, six out of every 100,000 Americans were diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In 2012, that number was two-and-a-half times higher, at 15. Despite the increase in diagnoses, however, the rate of people who have died of thyroid… Continue Reading →

Should you check procedure rates before going to the hospital?

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This is about Maryland hospitals, but the information applies everywhere. For instance, hospitals now break a lot of costs out separately that used to be bundled and covered by your insurance:

Despite having state-wide cost-control measures in place, not all medical procedures at Maryland hospitals are treated equally. With the increase cost of deductibles and co-pays, people have started to shop around for hospitals that offer cheaper procedures.

Unfortunately for many of those in Maryland, hospitals do not make it easy for people to obtain answers regarding the cost of certain procedures. Even though the State of Maryland has control over how much hospitals can charge, people still find it difficult to get information about the cost of treatment. This lack of information makes it difficult for people who need to comparison shop for cheaper hospitals because of the rising deductibles.

The rise in comparison shopping begs the question of why prices vary so greatly at different Maryland hospitals. In some Maryland hospitals, the price of certain procedures is more than twice as much than at other Maryland hospitals. For instance, at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, the price of having a baby is $4,895, while at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the cost averages at about $11,752.

However, when hospitals cite these averages, they often do not take into account the cost of complications, as well as certain lab tests. Since every patient is different and every procedure is different, can a person really shop around when considering different procedures?

Maryland officials who help determine the price of procedures at different hospitals insist that the differing prices are not based on the quality of service, but on the types of procedures offered and the number of patients who can afford to pay for the procedures.

Thus, a procedure at one hospital may be greater because Maryland allows the hospitals to increase the price of procedures to make up for the inability of certain patients to pay. This often means that hospitals in wealthier communities generally have lower prices.
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I must be getting old…

Common probate issues which a probate attorney can rescue you from

Because I find myself reading estate tax articles I used to skip:

As another generation of Americans begin aging into their golden years, the realities of passing along what they have earned throughout their lives to their children becomes a high priority. For a large number of people, that means making annual contributions to an IRA. But what many fail to realize is that when it comes to estate taxes, a person’s IRA is viewed as a part of the person’s taxable estate.

In a case where a taxable estate is greater than the federal and state exclusion amount, a person will have to pay estate taxes. For instance, if the taxable estate was greater than $5.43 million in 2015, the federal rate could be up to 40%. Since estates are set up on a per-person basis, a married couple may be able to plan to maximize the use of the exemption, providing coverage for over $10 million of the couple’s assets.

However, when a person is aware that they are in poor health and have an IRA with a great deal of money, an estate attorney may suggest a “deathbed Roth conversion.” A Roth IRA is a retirement account that allows people to pay taxes on the money going into the account rather than when they take the money out of the account. A conversion allows a person with an IRA to convert it to a Roth IRA before death as a means to pay the income taxes up front and to reduce the size of their estate.

In many cases, this deathbed conversion strategy is generally unnecessary since IRD exists which is meant to get rid of any need for an IRA conversion. IRD or Income in Respect of a Decedent tax allows for IRA beneficiaries a tax deduction for estate taxes paid by the original owner of the IRA. While IRD deductions are meant to protect beneficiaries from federal estate taxes, deathbed conversions can be beneficial for state estate taxes.

According to Trust and Estates Attorney Kerri Castellini, “Many people are surprised when a loved one dies as to how much of their estate is subject to taxes and it can be quite a shock. It is important that they understand all the options open to them, so that planning for estate taxes can occur prior to death.”

A person will need to consider the best timing and strategy to ensure that the person is able to achieve the lowest tax rate. When planning an estate, it is essential that a person do what is legally necessary to pay as many taxes before his or her death to minimize the size of the estate.

I don’t really have any money, and I doubt I ever will. But you never know!

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