OSHA Extends Enforcement Date for New Anti-Retaliation Rules

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently announced that it will delay the enforcement of the employee rights provisions under its final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.

Under 29 CFR 1904.35, the new final rule prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. Employers are required to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation, and may not deter or discourage employees from reporting such claims. The final rule also incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. These provisions were originally scheduled to become effective August 10, 2016.

OSHA decided to delay enforcement of these provisions until November 1, 2016, and is preparing additional educational materials to help employers comply with the new regulations. Some have observed confusion in the application of the new final rule and its impact on certain post-accident drug testing and safety incentive programs which might run afoul of its provisions.

Kawasaki Recalls Mule Pro Due to Injury Risk

Kawasaki USA recently announced a recall on its 2015, 2016, and 2017 model off road vehicle known as the Mule Pro. The company identified an injury hazard to riders because the front floor cover can be punctured by a foreign object.

About 28,000 units are subject to the recall. The recalled models are 4-wheel side-by-side seating for three to six people and automotive style controls. The vehicle identification number (VIN) is located on the steel frame between the right front lower A-arm mounts.

For more details on identifying the models subject to recall, click here.

Distracted Driver Conversation Turns to Pokémon Go

As drivers, we are becoming increasingly aware of the effects our smartphones have on our ability to concentrate on our roadways. In addition to texting or reading e-mails, we are now seeing increased concerns with the use of smartphone apps.

Critics site a new app from an old character known as Pokémon Go as a new form of distracted driving. The game, made by Niantic and the Pokemon Company, was released late on July 6, and allows players to capture Pokemon in real-world locations. The app makes the little monsters appear on your smartphone screen, through the camera, as you walk through your neighborhood — making it seem as if they are right in front of you.

One article has already found a number of drivers with photos of Pokémon Go monsters posted to their twitter accounts. See photos here. For more on other falling incidents involving the game, click here.

As with all smartphone usage, don’t Pokémon Go and drive!

Serious Nature of Boating Accidents in Texas

When it comes to personal injury, many individuals seem to overlook the harms that can occur from boating accidents. Recent events from the Fourth of July weekend shed light on the serious nature of these accidents.

Fourth of July weekend brings more boaters to the waters than any other weekend. Game Wardens investigated 34 accidents throughout Texas this weekend alone. These accidents range in cause. All lake goers should be caution when around boats.

One example of a recent boating accident occurred as the result of a reckless boater who ran over a lady swimming to the dock from another boat. She is now in critical condition after being struck by the boat’s propellers. The reckless boater did not stop to check on her. This incident is under a full investigation. Other accidents occurred as a result of higher lake waters due to heavy precipitation Texas received throughout the spring, causing an increase in natural hazards.

So far, Texas has had 13 boating fatalities in 2016. Annually, there has been an average of 30 boating fatalities over the last five years. If you or a loved one have suffered any injuries from boating accidents, please contact us for more information regarding your rights.

For more information about the accidents over the holiday weekend, please click here.

Ohio Jury Returns $5.1 Million Verdict Against DuPont

A jury in Ohio federal court was the second jury in a series of specially chosen cases for trial, referred to as a bellwether trial, to consider a claim that DuPont’s chemical dumping caused a man to develop testicular cancer.  The jury determined DuPont was liable for actual malice, requiring the jury to return to deliberations to determine the punitive damages to be awarded.

The plaintiffs in some 3,500 lawsuits filed against DuPont assert that a chemical it once produced called C-8 was linked to certain cancers.  The chemical was used in Teflon and in Stain Master carpet fibers.  The jury found that DuPont’s plant had intentionally dumped its C-8 into the Ohio River, which affected the drinking water supplies of some from West Virginia and Ohio.

Experts who studied the chemical concluded that C-8 was “more likely than not” to cause such conditions as ulcerative colitis, kidney cancer, thyroid disease and testicular cancer.

For more on this story, click here.

Congress Passes Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

A bipartisan effort has resulted in a bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to revise the regulation of chemicals.  The new bill establishes a safety standard to ensure that no unreasonable risk of harm to health or the environment will result from exposure to a chemical under the conditions of use.  The bill is regarded as the biggest chemical safety legislation in 40 years.

The bill revises the authority of the Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) to require the development of new information about a chemical by establishing a risk-based screening process.  The bill also sets deadlines for the EPA to designate a certain number of existing chemicals as high- or low-priority for safety assessments and determinations and conduct safety assessments and determinations for high-priority  chemicals.

Experts believe the bill will require an affirmative finding that chemicals are safe in order for them to stay on the market.

For more information on this bill, click here.

Reports Confirm 2015 Deadliest Driving Year Since 2008

An improved economy and lower gas prices have lead to increased driving, according to preliminary government data released last Friday. Americans apparently drove some 3.1 trillion miles in 2015, more than ever before.

Unfortunately, with increased driving came increased traffic fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities rose 7.7 percent to 35,200 in 2015, the highest numbers since 2008, when 37,423 people were killed.

Motorcyclists are likewise becoming a bigger percentage of the overall fatalities. Some attribute this increase in fatalities to weaker state laws regarding the use of helmets.

For more details, click here.

Five Facts about the Fourth of July

1. The 2nd of July may be the more appropriate date to mark our nation’s Independence. Congress actually ruled it in favor of independence on July 2. On July 4, Congress accepted Jefferson’s declaration. Only two men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1776 — John Hancock and Charles Thompson.

2. Americans began observing the Fourth of July as early as 1777, when the first-ever major celebration in Philadelphia included a parade, a thirteen-shot cannon salute, and fireworks. Congress didn’t make it an official holiday until 1870, when it was part of a bill passed to recognize major state holidays at a federal level — like Independence Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

3. Jefferson’s original draft of the declaration of independence was lost, and the one eventually signed is the “engrossed” document.

4. The printed version of the Declaration was called the Dunlap Broadside; 200 were made but only 27 are accounted for.

5. The oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States is the 4th of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island; it began in 1785.

Mayfield Law Office and Staff hopes you all have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July weekend!