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Power tools are a common presence in American homes and workplaces. Millions of people have power tools at home, ranging from the most basic, such as drills or power screwdrivers, all the way up to fully equipped home woodshops or metal shops. Cordless or corded, power tools are everywhere, and this is particularly true in many American workplaces. Many occupations, including most manufacturing jobs, construction, and trades, including electrical work and plumbing, rely heavily upon power tools. They make completing many jobs safer, faster, and more efficient. Think about trying to build a house without even so much as a power saw. Putting so much power in such a small package – many power tools are hand-held – is, unfortunately, often a dangerous proposition, even for professional users. Not surprisingly, then, workplace accidents involving power tools are fairly common events.

Injuries From Power Tool Accidents Can be Serious

Many people use power tools at home, completely unrelated to on-the-job use of power tools. Such at-home use, rightly or wrongly, can give employees a false sense of knowledge and security regarding use of power tools on the job. The problem, of course, is that the types and power of tools used on the job far exceed what most home power tool users have experienced. When employees believe they know “enough” about operating power tools, particularly hand-held power tools, they may be able to avoid training or pay little attention during training. 

Underride accidents, a type of accident involving passenger vehicles and tractor-trailer rigs, are responsible for only about 1% of all highway fatalities annually. However, like their cousin “override” accidents, underride accidents are particularly lethal for the occupants of passenger vehicles involved. In addition, safety groups tend to focus on underride accidents because of the belief that such accidents are preventable, given the proper safety equipment. Underride accidents occur when a passenger strikes a tractor-trailer rig from behind or from the side. Because the trailer in a tractor-trailer 18-wheeler rides much higher than most passenger vehicles, such collisions often result in the passenger vehicle driving under the trailer of the 18-wheeler. This frequently wedges the passenger vehicle under the trailer and essentially cuts the top off the passenger vehicle. Occupants of the passenger vehicles frequently suffer catastrophic, often fatal, upper body injuries, including decapitation. While the federal government has taken some regulatory steps to address the issues, there remain safety groups who are not satisfied with the progress.

Preventing Underride Crashes is Simple, But Complicated

On one level, preventing underride crashes is as simple as installing barriers that make it difficult or impossible for passenger vehicles to drive under the trailer of an 18-wheel rig. Unfortunately, that is not as simple as it sounds. Underride crashes cause far fewer accidents, injuries, and fatalities than do other primary causes such as speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Underride accidents caused an average of 219 traffic deaths annually from 2008 through 2017, accounting for less than 1% of all traffic deaths during that time frame. On the other hand, that number represents more than 5% of all deaths involving large commercial trucks over the same time period. The fact is, underride accidents tend to be fatal, certainly for the people in the passenger vehicles involved.

While federal regulations limit the amount of time a truck driver can spend behind the wheel in any given day, as well as weekly totals, those regulations still allow truckers to spend far more time per day driving than most people ever do, certainly on a daily basis. Truckers can spend up to 11 hours driving in a day, but that can be extended if there is adverse weather. Truckers are allowed to spend more time per week driving – up to 60 hours in 7 days — than most other people spend at work. Napping briefly at your desk might not win you points with your boss, but the consequences for napping behind the wheel, even briefly, are much more serious.

Driver Fatigue Negatively Affects Performance, Safety

Studies of the effects of fatigue on truck drivers indicate that driving while tired has a number of negative impacts on driving performance, including:

Rear-end accidents happen all the time, and they can be a pain in the neck, often quite literally. Whiplash, a neck injury caused by rapid movement of the neck back and forth, resembling the cracking of a whip, is a common result of being in a vehicle that is struck from behind. Whiplash is bad enough, but rear-end accidents can cause any number of other injuries, as well, particularly at high speeds. Such accidents are, unfortunately, fairly common. In fact, rear-end crashes happen more often than any other kind of traffic collision. Nearly 30% of all traffic accidents involve a rear-end collision, leading to a considerable number of injuries and deaths every year. In fact, reports indicate that there are about 1.7 million rear-end traffic accidents per year, resulting in about 1,700 fatalities and another 500,000 injuries.

Drivers Usually are the Cause of Rear-End Collisions

When one vehicle strikes another vehicle from behind, the odds are pretty good that the driver of the vehicle hitting the vehicle from the rear has messed up and is at fault. It is not always true, but it is a pretty good bet. Tailgating contributes to more than a third of all traffic collisions, making it an obvious cause of the majority of all rear-end collisions. In a more general sense, federal statistics blame 87% of rear-end accidents on drivers simply not paying attention to traffic and what is in front of them. Other sources identify more specific causes, but many seem to be rooted in driver inattention or error, including:

Millions of cars and other passenger vehicles share the nation’s roads and highways daily with large commercial trucks, including 18-wheeler tractor-trailer rigs. In the vast majority of instances, they do so without collisions or other incidents. When those two classes of vehicles collide, however, the outcome is overwhelmingly to the detriment of the drivers and occupants of the passenger vehicles. When this type of accident involves a truck override, the results quite often are fatal for the people in the passenger vehicles involved.

Commercial Trucks Versus Passenger Vehicles: Trucks Win

“Win” might not be the right term for this match-up so much as “passenger vehicles lose.” Physics dictates that the larger, heavier object dominates in a collision with a lighter object. Commercial trucks such as tractor-trailer rigs weigh at least 10 times what the average passenger vehicle weighs, and often more. Naturally, this leads to one-sided results in truck-passenger vehicle collisions, as federal statistics make clear. In 2018 there were 531,000 accidents involving large commercial trucks, including 18-wheel tractor-trailers, resulting in 4,951 deaths and about 151,000 injuries. Out of those, more than 70% of fatalities and 72% of injuries were suffered by occupants of the passenger vehicles involved in those accidents. Many of those accidents did not involve truck overrides, but many did, and truck override accidents often are especially deadly.

Not all traumatic brain injuries result in permanent damage, but they all involve some level of damage to the brain. That means that all traumatic brain injuries, known as TBIs, deserve serious consideration. While TBIs are common, “common” does not mean “harmless.” No injury to the brain could ever be classified as “harmless,” and TBIs are no different.

What is a TBI?

A TBI is a “bump, blow, or jolt to the head” that interferes with brain function. This is a broad definition that includes everything from a blow that raises a bump on your head and gives you a headache all the way to a skull-penetrating injury that leaves you alive but with permanent brain damage, perhaps even comatose for the rest of your life. TBIs happen every day in all kinds of circumstances and at all kinds of levels of severity. They happen in events as traumatic as traffic accidents and as mundane as slips and falls. They can seem to be not a big deal, or life-altering. All TBIs should receive prompt medical attention, no matter the category into which they fall.

Americans love putting a boat in the water, and Georgians are no different. Whether it is on lakes, rivers, or the ocean, when good weather rolls around, you can look forward to thousands of Americans heading for their favorite body of water to have a little fun. There were nearly 12 million recreational boats registered in the U.S. in 2019, including jet skis and other personal watercraft. More than 331,000 of those were in Georgia, putting the state 11th in the nation for the largest number of registered boats. Boating is popular wherever there is enough water to float a boat, and Georgia has lakes, rivers, and ocean coastline that provide ample opportunity to take to the water.

Boating Has a Downside

As much fun as boating can be, it carries risks. Thousands of boating accidents happen each year, resulting in thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths. The Coast Guard recorded 4,168 recreational boating accidents in 2019, with 613 fatalities and 2,559 injuries, in addition to roughly $55 million in property damage. There were 109 boating accidents in Georgia in 2019, with 23 deaths and 57 injuries, according to the Coast Guard. Those numbers probably far underestimate the actual number of accidents, as not all boating accidents must be reported to the Coast Guard, meaning the service’s statistics on boating accidents are not comprehensive. 

People talk about head-on collisions as being the worst – and with good reason – but head-on crashes are by no means the only kind of car collision that carries with it a high risk of injury or death. Another type of collision that ranks among the most dangers is what is commonly referred to as a “T-bone” accident – the side-impact crash. Named for the popular steak, a T-bone crash is when one vehicle is struck in the side by a second vehicle at a perpendicular angle. Picture a car moving through an intersection when another vehicle enters the intersection on the crossing roadway, entering the intersection from one side or the other of the first car and striking the first vehicle full in the side. Most common at intersections, T-bone crashes can be deadly.

T-Bone Accidents are a Leading Cause of Traffic Fatalities

Traffic accidents can be deadly affairs – they cost more than 36,000 Americans their lives in 2019. More than half of traffic deaths involving passenger vehicle occupants happen in head-on collisions – full frontal impacts, nose to nose. However, more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities in crashes involving passenger vehicles occur in side-impact collisions – in other words, the classic T-bone accident. When a vehicle hits another vehicle from the side, the struck vehicle does not have the crumple zone that provides protection in frontal collisions. Cars are designed to absorb impacts from the front and from the rear, using the trunk for rear-end accidents and the engine compartment, among other features, for front-end accidents to help absorb the force of the collision. When it comes to side-impact collisions, no such crumple zone exists to prevent the exterior of the vehicle from being pushed into the passenger compartment by the force of the collision. One study contends that vehicles struck from the front have five times the energy absorption as vehicles provide in a side impact. The lack of crumple zones on the side of vehicles simply adds to the lethality of side-impact collisions.

Almost every state in the U.S. requires drivers to carry some kind of insurance. New Hampshire and Virginia do not require drivers to have insurance, but still hold them responsible for damages in accidents in which they are at fault. Most states require liability insurance to cover damages inflicted when the insured driver is at fault, while other states are “no-fault” insurance states and require that drivers carry “personal injury protection” insurance policies to cover injuries to themselves and their passengers. Even in the 48 states that require drivers to have some kind of insurance, an astounding number of drivers choose to ignore those requirements and carry no insurance at all. This can lead to some interesting liability questions.

Georgia Does Not Require Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Georgia state law does not require motorists to carry uninsured motorist insurance, or UMI. The state requires insurers to offer the coverage and sets forth allowable deductibles, minimum policy coverages, and the like, but allows drivers to refuse the coverage so long as they do so in writing. If accepted, UMI covers all of the damages the at-fault driver’s insurance would have covered if the driver had carried insurance, depending upon the coverage limits of the policy. UMI can come in handy, as one in eight drivers nationwide do not have any insurance, required or not. In Georgia, 12% of drivers have no insurance, ranking the state 25th for the highest percentage of uninsured motorists – right in the middle.

Nobody goes into the construction industry thinking it is going to be a walk in the park. Everybody who ever worked construction knew before their first day on the job that construction work is dirty, difficult, and above all, dangerous. Injuries are commonplace, and fatal injuries on the construction site happen far more often than in any other kind of workplace. Construction work sites are loaded with hazards most employees in other occupations will never see, and many of those hazards are potentially fatal.

No Industry Compares to Construction for Deaths, Injuries

In 2019, federal statistics indicate that on-the-job deaths of construction workers accounted for 20% of all workplace fatalities, a trend that has held for decades even though the construction industry accounts for only 4% of total employment in the United States. In addition to fatalities, more than 70,000 construction injuries are reported each year, with probably that many more going unreported. The injury rate for construction workers was 9.7 per 100,000 employees in 2019, nearly triple the rate of 3.5 per 100,000 employees for all other private sector employment. The non-fatal injury rate for construction workers is 71% higher than any other industry.

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