May 2009 News: Injured
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May 2009 Archives

Drywall Information Center Launched by CPSC

Homeowners and consumers have a new online resource for updates and assistance with the tainted drywall problem that's been grabbing headlines in recent months, with widespread reports of damage to homes and fears of health problems linked to the building materials.

The new Drywall Information Center from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) features updates on the CPSC drywall investigation, instructions for homeowners who may be affected by tainted drywall, and answers to frequently asked questions on tainted drywall.

According to CPSC figures, at least 365 residents in 18 States and the District of Columbia blame health symptoms and/or corrosion damage on drywall that was manufactured in China and is believed to be contaminated.

New Food Safety Law: A Look at Key Provisions

The U.S. food safety system would be modernized and upgraded -- including better safeguards against foodborne illness cases like the recent nationwide salmonella outbreaks -- under a new law being discussed this week in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The proposed Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 would lay out the roles and responsibilities of every key player in the nation's food supply chain, from growers to facility operators, health inspectors to lab analysis technicians. The law is being introduced by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-California) and John Dingell (D-Michigan).

What will this new law do to enhance food safety and guard against foodborne illnesses like salmonella infection? Here is a look at some of the key provisions under the proposed Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009:

NYC Subway Platform Defect Repairs Lax, Report Says

Defects in New York City subway platforms have caused at least three riders to fall onto the tracks while waiting for trains, but city transit officials are dragging their heels instead of identifying and fixing platform problems in a timely manner, according to an investigation report released this week.

The report from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) begins by recounting a near-tragedy that occurred on a subway platform in Brooklyn in January 2008, when the "rubbing board" on the platform's outer edge gave way and a teenage boy fell in the path of an oncoming subway train.

Treadmills: Unique Injury Risks and Safety Tips

Many people keep treadmills in their homes and use them as an alternative to a gym membership or as an expensive coat rack, depending on the level of their commitment to a regular exercise routine. But the accidental death this week of Mike Tyson's daughter Exodus Tyson has prompted a new focus on the unique injury hazards that treadmills pose in the home, especially for young children.

Every year, exercise equipment like treadmills, stationary bikes, and stair climbers cause about 8,700 injuries to children under the age of 5 years of age, and about 16,500 more injuries to children between the ages of 5 to 14 -- with fractures and amputations reported in about 20 percent of these incidents, according to figures from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Now is a good time to review some of the unique safety hazards related to treadmills, and learn how to avoid treadmill-related accidents in the home.

Wal-Mart Cited by OSHA Over 2008 Trampling Death

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. should have had more effective crowd control measures in place at a Long Island store on 2008's "Black Friday," when a temporary employee was crushed to death in a stampede of Wal-Mart shoppers. That was the finding in a citation issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today, which also ordered Wal-Mart --the world's largest retailer -- to pay a $7,000 fine, an amount likely dwarfed by what the company earned in the time it took you to read this sentence.

In the November 28, 2008 incident that sparked the OSHA citation, Jdimytai Damour, a 34-year-old temporary employee, was trampled and died of asphyxiation after a crowd of shoppers burst through the front doors of a Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream, New York, in a race to get their hands on a limited supply of advertised sale items.

15-Passenger Vans: Safety Tips and Rollover Prevention

As Americans take to the roads for summer vacations, federal highway safety officials are reminding drivers and passengers about special safety challenges posed by 15-passenger vans, especially the risk of rollover crashes when these vehicles are fully-loaded.

In fact, 15-passenger vans with 10 or more passengers have a rollover rate almost three times that of vehicles with less than five occupants, and in 2007 rollovers caused 45 fatalities in 15-passenger vans, up 73 percent from 2006 numbers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Whether it's a drive to a family reunion or a scout troop campout, if you're planning a road trip this summer and are thinking about using a 15-passenger van, follow these tips from the NHTSA to make sure your trip is as safe as possible:

Pool Drains Must Comply with New Federal Safety Rules

With Memorial Day weekend behind us, it's the unofficial start to swimming season in backyards and community pools across the country. But many pool owners and public facility operators are learning that their pool drains need to be brought into compliance with new federal safety standards that aim to prevent drain and suction-related injuries and deaths.

The new federal safety regulations for pool drains are part of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool Safety Act named for the daughter of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III. Enacted in late 2007, the law requires that most drain systems at public and community pools be in compliance with new anti-entrapment safety standards in time for this summer's swimming season.

Chrysler Bankruptcy: What Happens to Car Owners' Lawsuits?

When U.S. car-making giant Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection last month, the impact was felt immediately by car dealerships and employees. But closer scrutiny of Chrysler's bankruptcy plan shows that car owners who are injured from vehicle defects and faced with warranty problems could also lose big. 

That's because under Chrysler's Chapter 11 reorganization plan, plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against the company are seeing their cases frozen as they wait in a long line of unsecured creditors, and car owners' rights in future suits may be limited, according to the New York Times. "The new Chrysler is willing to honor warranties on vehicles sold before or after the bankruptcy. But for personal injury lawsuits, Chrysler says it will be responsible only for problems with vehicles sold after the bankruptcy," the Times reports.

That means people who bought Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles before the company's April bankruptcy filing likely won't be able to sue the carmaker for injuries from vehicle defects or "lemon law"-type problems in the future, under the bankruptcy plan as it currently stands.

Bicycle Recall Affects 20,000 Trek, Cannondale, and Norco Models

Over 20,000 bicycles and bike frames are being recalled because of different defects that can cause riders to lose control and crash, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the bicycle companies announced this week.

The recalls affect 16,000 Trek bicycles with JD suspension forks, 3,600 Norco Performance Bike frames, and 1,500 Cannondale bicycles with JD suspension forks.    

Below is a closer look at each of the bike recalls, including description of the problems, detailed product information, and instructions for consumers who own bicycles that are affected by the recalls.  

Trek Bicycles with JD Suspension Forks. Trek Bicycle Corp. is recalling about 16,000 of its Trek 7300, 7300WSD, and 7500 models that were sold with JD suspension forks. A defect in the suspension fork can cause the bikes' front wheel to turn suddenly, causing the rider to lose control and crash. See the CPSC News Alert on the Trek Bicycle Recall for detailed product information and instructions for consumers.   

Preliminary testing of the Chinese-manufactured drywall that is causing havoc for thousands of homeowners reveals chemicals at high levels not found in U.S.-manufactured drywall, and the use of sulfur compounds which aren't used at all in the domestically-produced building materials.

The testing was carried out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the results were announced this week. But it's too soon to say whether the differences in chemical composition between the Chinese and U.S.-manufactured drywall could be to blame for health problems and home damage reported by thousands of homeowners in Florida, Louisiana, and elsewhere.

The use of sulfur compounds in the Chinese-manufactured drywall could explain the rotten egg" smell that many homeowners are reporting is prevalent in their houses.

The safety and oversight of smaller regional airlines needs to be put under a microscope by the FAA, a U.S. Senate committee said in a letter sent this week to the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

The increased scrutiny of the operation and safety of smaller regional airlines has been sparked by the February 2009 crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 Buffalo, which killed all 49 people on board and one person on the ground.

The letter from the Senate committee expresses concern over the fact that the pilot of Flight 3407 had failed a number of flight tests and may have been inadequately trained, and also raises the issue of crewmembers being overly fatigued due to long periods of travel before the beginning of their work shifts.

Student Abuse at Schools: How Widespread Is It?

A federal study released this week took a look at student abuse through restraint and seclusion at schools across the nation. The report found hundreds of cases of school children being abused through these questionable practices, but also noted a wide disparity in laws that might have prevented student mistreatment, injuries, and even deaths.

Among the student abuse cases examined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) for the report:

  • The death of a seven year-old student who was held face down for hours by school officials.
  • Broken arms and bloody noses suffered by five year-old students who were allegedly tied to chairs and duct taped.
  • The hanging death of a 13 year-old student who was placed in prolonged confinement by school officials.
  • A 14 year-old child who died after being laid upon by a 230-pound teacher.

Pool Safety and Healthy Swimming Tips

With Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, and kids nationwide counting the days until summer vacation, it's a great time to make sure pools and spas are as safe as possible for kids. Parents and caregivers should also learn how to prevent Recreational Water Illness (RWI) outbreaks that can be caused by swimming in public pools, water parks, rivers, and lakes. 

Pool Safety Hazards. Swimming pools pose a special hazard for very young children, even kids that know how to swim. Every year, about 300 children under the age of five drown in swimming pools, according to the CPSC, and the suction from pool and spa drains can even trap small children under water.

To prevent these kinds of accidents, installing physical barriers -- fences, gates, walls, and power safety covers -- around and over pools and spas is the key. For above-ground pools, steps and ladders should be removed or secured when the pool is not in use. And generally, alarms should be used on doors that lead directly from the house to the pool.

Costco Hit With $50M Lawsuit: What is False Imprisonment?

A lawsuit filed in California accuses Costco Wholesale Corp. of falsely imprisoning its employees, by keeping workers after hours while bosses inventory jewelry and check cash registers in the warehouse stores.

The lawsuit, filed in San Diego County, alleges that Costco workers are prevented from leaving even though they're not being paid during the 15-minute store closing routines. The main plaintiff is Mary Pytelewski, a clerk at a Costco store in San Marcos, and the suit seeks class action status and $50 million in damages, the Los Angeles Times reports.

So, what is false imprisonment? The short answer is that it's the confinement of a person against their will, without legal authority. False imprisonment can be the subject of a personal injury lawsuit (as in the Costco case) or a criminal prosecution.  

HP Recalls 70,000 Notebook Computer Batteries Over Fire Hazard

About 70,000 Hewlett-Packard notebook computer batteries are being recalled because of a risk that the batteries can overheat and cause fires and burn injuries, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today.

The affected lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are used in certain models of HP and Compaq computers -- including HP Pavilion and Compaq Presario models -- sold at computer and electronics stores nationwide, from August 2007 through March 2008 (battery packs were also sold separately), according to CPSC.

See the CPSC News Release for complete details on the affected notebook computers, including specific notebook model information and bar code labels to look for.

They're more than just acronymns: CPSC. FDA. NHTSA. CDC. These are the federal agencies that are charged with protecting the public through the regulation and oversight of consumer products, drugs and medical devices, vehicles and highway safety, and health and disease in the U.S.

Whenever a new administration takes over the White House, the shake-up in new leadership ripples out to almost all appointed positions in the executive branch of the federal government. President Obama has nominated a number of individuals for the nation's top regulatory positions related to consumer and public safety, and has seen one candidate withdraw after nomination.

So who is (or who will be) running the show at the highest-profile federal safety agencies? Here's a look at the latest nomination news, one acronymn at a time:

Seat Belt Study: What Could Be Saved If More People Buckled Up?

Seat belt use makes a huge difference in whether drivers and passengers survive a car accident. That news should come as no surprise. But a study released today shines a stark light on the costs of failing to buckle up, by illustrating the number of deaths, serious injuries, and costs that could be avoided each year if more people took a few seconds to put on their seat belts. 

The seat belt study released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seat belts saved more than 15,000 lives in 2007. But just as important are the numbers related to deaths and injuries that could be avoided if more people buckled up.

Millions of Feet of Decking Material Recalled After Injuries

Millions of feet of composite decking material is being recalled by manufacturer Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. A defect in the material can cause the decking to deteriorate prematurely and break, and the problem has already caused a number of falls and injuries.

The composite deck material was sold under the "Veranda" brand name at Home Depot stores nationwide between January 2005 and August 2008, at a price of $1.50 to $2.25 per foot, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The composite decking was also available for sale at other building product dealers under the "LP WeatherBest" and "ABTCo." brand names.

A CPSC Press Release on the recalled composite decking contains detailed information on affected brands and products, photos of the decking as installed, and a photo example of the deterioration.

Court: Gun Makers Can't Face Civil Suit

Licensed makers and sellers of handguns cannot be held legally responsible for the acts of a criminal who decides to go on a shooting rampage, a California federal appeals court decided this week. The decision is the latest roadblock in attempts to impose some form of civil tort liability on the manufacturers of firearms.

In the case decided Monday, surviving victims and people who lost family members in a 1999 shooting spree in a suburb of Los Angeles sought to hold gunmakers and gun sellers legally responsible, via a civil lawsuit for damages.

The issue before the federal appeals court was whether the lawsuit was barred under a federal law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, enacted in 2005.

FDA: Contaminated Face Paint Recalled

Consumers should avoid using certain water-based face paint products because bacterial contamination could case adverse skin reactions, according to an announcement this week from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The affected face paint products were distributed by "Oriental Trading Co." a company located in Omaha, Nebraska, and come in packages labeled "Face Paint." According to the FDA, the face paint products were manufactured in China and are being voluntarily recalled by Fun Express Inc., a subsidiary of Oriental Trading Co.

See the FDA News Release for full details on the affected products, including item numbers, product descriptions, and UPC codes. The FDA is also providing consumers with online Images of the Recalled Face Paint Packages.

Utah Mine Collapse Lawsuits Settle: Are Mines Getting Safer?

All civil lawsuits filed in connection with a 2007 mine collapse in Crandall Canyon, Utah have been settled in an umbrella agreement among the mine's operator, injured survivors, and the families of eight miners and one inspector who were killed.

News of the settlement over the Utah mine collapse comes a few months after federal safety officials released data showing a mixed message of sorts related to recent mine safety trends: record-low fatalities when it comes to miner accidents, coupled with record-high numbers of health and safety violations handed out to mine operators.

The pilots at the controls of a doomed February flight over upstate New York talked about their lack of experience with aircraft icing just before the plane crashed, and were carrying on unnecessary informal conversation that likely violated "sterile" cockpit rules, according to transcripts released today by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The safety agency's three-day probe of the accident is focusing on the crew's training, in-flight protocol, and experience related to aircraft icing, a potential cause of the February 12 Colgan Air crash that killed all 49 passengers and crew members, and one person on the ground.

The public can view a live webcast of the three days of NTSB hearings at http://www.ntsb.gov/events/hearing_sched.htm

Pedestrian Safety: Cities, States Walking the Walk

Cities and states across the country are investing more money and resources into protecting pedestrians, through infrastructure projects like sidewalk construction and crosswalk installation, and safety plans that seek to better accommodate walking as a viable mode of transportation.

Here's a look at some recent "steps" in the push for pedestrian safety:

  • In Washington D.C., Mayor Adrian M. Fenty released a comprehensive pedestrian safety plan -- including guidelines for engineers and city planners -- that "challenges a century of car culture [and] infuses city planning with the concept that pedestrians have as much right to the streets as motorists do," according to the Washington Post.
  • In New Jersey, the state's Transportation Department will spend $5.4 million to improve pedestrian safety (especially near schools), including construction of new sidewalks, and installation of more crosswalks and speed limit signs, Philly.com reports.
  • In Seattle, the city is set to unveil a "Pedestrian Master Plan", which will encourage walking as a method of transportation, enhance pedestrian safety on the city's streets, and promote healthy lifestyles, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Boston Trolley Accident Injures 49: Can Passengers Sue?

A trolley in Boston collided with a waiting train at Government Center Station on the city's Green Line on Friday, causing more than 40 injuries, and preliminary reports indicate that the conductor was distracted at the time of the crash because he was text messaging with his girlfriend. 

Friday evening's accident prompted the area's transit authority to announce that conductors and drivers will now be prohibited from even carrying cell phones and PDAs while on the job, the New York Times reports. The incident also raises questions about potential lawsuits over passengers' injuries, and the special rules that can apply if a lawsuit is filed against a government agency.

Huddled masses yearning to breathe free, indeed. The federal government has announced that visitors to New York's world famous Statue of Liberty will be able to check out the statue's crown for the first time since shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But, the breathtaking views will come only after a breathtaking climb up a cramped and steep staircase, and even the government is acknowledging that all of the risks associated with the climb can't be eliminated.

What's more, a new safety study shows that visitors to the crown will likely need to take in the views quickly and be on their way back down, so that overcrowding and unavoidable safety risks can be minimized.

Jury Acquits W.R. Grace in Landmark Asbestos Case

A jury has acquitted chemical manufacturing giant W.R. Grace and three of its top executives in a federal criminal case that accused the company of causing -- and then attempting to cover up -- asbestos contamination in the small Montana mining town of Libby. Today's decision puts the spotlight back on the longstanding health risks associated with asbestos exposure. 

Asbestos in Libby, Montana. In the town of Libby, population approximately 2,600, at least 200 people have died from illnesses caused by asbestos, with hundreds more made seriously ill, the New York Times reports: "And there is no doubt that the Zonolite Mountain vermiculite mine, owned and operated by Grace from 1963 to 1990, was the source of the asbestos."

What was at stake in the case in federal district court in Missoula, Montana, were the two key questions before the jury: 1) What did W.R. Grace know about the extent of the asbestos risks that were tied to its mine, and 2) At what point did they decide to act (or decline to act) based on that knowledge, the Times reports.   

An Oklahoma City surgeon has been the subject of at least 14 lawsuits in the last year, including a wrongful death claim filed by the father of a teenage patient who died while under the surgeon's care, multiple news sources are reporting.

On Tuesday, Fox News reported that a medical malpractice lawsuit had been filed against Oklahoma City surgeon Paul Christopher Francel, by a former patient who will be representing himself in Oklahoma County District Court.

In February, Sabit Kurbanov filed a wrongful death complaint against Francel, over allegedly negligent care that caused the death of Kurbanov's 16-year-old son David, according to NewsOK.com, which reports that "Francel has been named as a defendant in at least a dozen civil lawsuits claiming medical negligence since June 2007."

The makers of two popular prescription topical testosterone gels will be required to include a boxed warning on their products' labeling that warns of potential harm to children who come into contact with the gels, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today.  

The new boxed warnings will be required for AndroGel, marketed by Solvay Pharmaceuticals, and Testim, made by Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. These two prescription medications are commonly used as part of hormone replacement therapy for a number of medical conditions that cause a testosterone deficiency.

Today's warnings apply to potential harm to children from "secondary exposure", meaning direct contact between an adult's treated skin and the child's skin. The FDA reports that, since December of 2008, it has received a number of reports of secondary exposure to testosterone, and "adverse events reported in these children included inappropriate enlargement of the genitalia (penis or clitoris), premature development of pubic hair, advanced bone age, increased libido, and aggressive behavior."

Equipping teenagers' cars with "black box" monitoring devices can help reduce the risks that unsupervised young drivers take when they get behind the wheel, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

What Do the Devices Monitor? Although they may sound like every teenager's nightmare, vehicle "black box" monitoring devices can use GPS to pinpoint a car's location, and record and transmit driving data -- including speed, sharp braking, quick acceleration, and use of seat belts by drivers and passengers. Some devices can even let parents dial into the car directly if they don't like what they're (virtually) seeing.

Ed McMahon has settled a medical malpractice lawsuit with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, over the hospital's treatment of neck injuries the entertainer suffered after a fall at a friend's home in 2007.

The longtime sidekick of Johnny Carson on NBC's "The Tonight Show" was injured in March of 2007 when he fell and broke his neck at the home of investor Robert Day, according to Reuters.

McMahon had alleged that Cedars-Sinai Medical Center failed to properly diagnose his broken neck, sent him home without taking any X-rays, and botched two operations on the entertainer's spine, Reuters reports: "The veteran TV announcer said the resulting discomfort and pain left him unable to work for many months."

As Americans' dependence on cell phones, Blackberry devices, and other PDAs threatens to rise to the level of a nationwide addiction, state lawmakers are keeping pace by continuing to crack down on use of these devices while driving.

Already this year, five states have strengthened their distracted driving laws by making specific prohibitions against talking on cell phones and sending electronic messages while driving. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the following new laws have been in effect since January: 

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has reached an agreement with a New York prosecutor's office, under which the company will pay about $2 million and implement new post-Thanksgiving crowd-control measures at all of its New York stores, in an effort to avoid "shopper stampede" incidents like the one that killed an employee at a Wal-Mart store in New York last year.

Under the deal announced today between the retail giant and New York's Nassau County District Attorney, Wal-Mart will also avoid prosecution in connection with the death of Jdimytai Damour, a 34-year-old employee at a Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream, N.Y.

On 2008's "Black Friday," the busy shopping day after Thanksgiving, Damour was trampled and died of asphyxiation after a "crowd burst through the store's front doors in a race to buy a limited assortment of discounted merchandise," according to the Wall Street Journal

Mother Settles Suit Over Teen's In-Custody Stun Gun Death

The mother of an Illinois teenager who died after police officers shocked him with a Taser gun while he was in custody has reached a wrongful death settlement with the city where the incident took place.

Rita Cummings's son Roger Holyfield was 17 when he had a confrontation with police in Jerseyville, Illinois. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Holyfield "was carrying a Bible and a cordless phone" and "shouting for Jesus when police tried to subdue him" by shocking him twice with a Taser gun after placing him in handcuffs. Holyfield, who was mentally ill, died the next day at a hospital in St. Louis.

The dollar amount of the settlement of Cummings's wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Jerseyville was not disclosed.

Companies who have only limited links to environmentally contaminated property will have an easier time escaping liability for huge cleanup costs associated with the contamination, under a decision handed down Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case involves the cleanup of contaminated property at Brown & Bryant's chemical distribution facility in Arvin, California, and the responsibility of Shell Oil Company to pay for cleanup of the property. Shell had sold the pesticide D-D to Brown & Bryant over a number of years, and that chemical played a role in the contamination of the property.

The Court on Monday was charged with examining Shell's liability as a company that "arranged for disposal" of hazardous materials under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (called "CERCLA" or the "Superfund Law" informally).

Accidents in the home caused by falling furniture and television sets are leading to more and more trips to the emergency room for young children, according to a study released this week. But there are a number of simple steps you can take to prevent furniture and appliance tip-overs in your home.

The study Injuries from Furniture Tip-Overs Among Children and Adolescents in the U.S., 1990-2007, published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, analyzed the incidence of children's injuries from furniture and appliance tip-overs in the home, and uncovered a "significant increase" in these kinds of injuries from 1990 to 2007.

Of more than 264,000 furniture and appliance tip-over injuries that required emergency room treatment over that time period, the study found that falling televisions were the most common cause (over 47 percent of injuries), and that the vast majority of injuries (75 percent) were to children age 6 and younger.   

Tainted Drywall: Property Damage and Health Problems Reported

Complaints about property damage and health problems linked to tainted drywall manufactured in drywall are on the rise, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced last week, when a team of CPSC experts was in Washington to meet with members of Congress over the problem.

CPSC reports that it has received 180 reports from consumers in 13 states "who believe their health symptoms or the corrosion of certain metal components in their homes are related to the presence of drywall produced in China."

Problems reported to CPSC range from a sulfur "rotten egg" smell in the house, to blackened and corroded home metal components -- most often including replacement of air conditioning parts -- to health complaints. These include itchy eyes, irritated skin, difficulty breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infection, and asthma attacks, according to CPSC.

The arrival of May and the onset of warmer weather signals the unofficial start to "motorcycle season", leading the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (and many state governors) to proclaim May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Now is a good time to take a look at recent motorcycle accident data, some of the unique safety challenges that motorcycle riders face, and the impact of state motorcycle helmet laws on serious injury prevention.

Motorcycle Accident Figures. In recent years, an average of about 4,500 motorcycle riders were killed in accidents on U.S. highways, and another 85,000 riders suffered injuries in motorcycle crashes, according to data from the NHTSA. The most telling statistic on the unique danger faced by motorcyclists may be this: per mile traveled, a motorcyclist is about 37 times more likely to be killed in an accident than a person traveling in a passenger car.

Jardine Crib Recall Expanded...Again

Crib manufacturer Jardine Enterprises has announced a second expansion of a recall involving many of the company's wooden crib models, because of an ongoing defect that poses a strangulation and entrapment hazard for infants and toddlers.

Today's announcement applies to about 96,000 Jardine cribs, including the drop-side "Olympia", "Olympia Lifetime", "Americana 4-in-1", and "Capri 4-in-1" models. The recalled cribs were sold for about $220 to $330 at KidsWorld, Geoffrey Stores, Toys 'R' Us, and Babies 'R' Us stores, from September 2005 through April 2009. See Today's CPSC Announcement for detailed information on affected cribs, including model numbers. 

The problem is an ongoing one with Jardine wooden cribs. The cribs' wooden slats can break and create a gap that presents an entrapment and strangulation hazard for infants and toddlers. CPSC reports that it has received "31 incident reports of slats breaking, including two reports of children becoming entrapped in the gap created by the broken slat on the crib."

FDA: Stop Using Hydroxycut Weight Loss Products

The FDA is warning consumers to stop using 14 popular Hydroxycut weight loss products that have been recalled and linked to multiple reports of liver problems and at least one death.

As reported in today's FDA Warning on the Hydroxycut Product Recall, the agency has received 23 reports of serious health problems linked to the weight loss aids, including jaundice, elevated liver enzymes, and liver damage requiring transplant. The Hydroxycut products have been linked to one death caused by liver failure.

Car Makers Get Tougher Roof Strength Standards

In an effort to reduce injuries and deaths from vehicle rollover accidents, federal highway safety officials announced this week that car makers will need to comply with tougher vehicle roof strength standards.

Below are details of the new vehicle roof strength regulations, from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

  • For lighter vehicles (up to 6,000 pounds), the new federal regulations will double current roof strength requirements, mandating that the driver and passenger sides of vehicle roofs be able to withstand an impact three times the vehicle's weight. Current standards for lighter vehicles call for roofs to withstand 1.5 times the vehicle's weight.
  • For heavier vehicles (6,000 to 10,000 pounds), which haven't been subject to roof strength regulations until now, standards are set at the ability to withstand a force up to 1.5 times the vehicle's weight.
  • Timeline for Compliance. The new roof strength standards will be phased-in beginning in September 2012, and compliance for all affected vehicles must be in place by the 2017 model year.