counterfeit-products-400-07681309dThe next time you see an item for sale at a price too good to be true, consider the ramifications before you buy. Chances are the product is a knockoff of the original design and not only could you be exchanging quality for savings, but you could be increasing your risk of injury or illness.

A recent report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) revealed that the problem of counterfeit merchandise today has reached far beyond luxury clothing accessories, and the risks associated with these products has increased dramatically especially when connected with such sectors as toy manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. The big danger to consumers is that these knockoffs are usually of inferior quality compared to the original products. This low quality can compromise the health and safety of the consumer. To see just how far-reaching this problem has become today, read “Counterfeit goods: A $461 billion problem.”

Flu shots: photo of medical person administering vaccine to patientIn an effort to maintain a healthy environment, companies often offer free flu clinics for employees who opt to take advantage of the service. What happens, however, when things go wrong and employees are instead exposed to potential risks of contamination? In the case of Otsuka America Pharmaceuticals, it ends in a lawsuit.

A Robbinsville, NJ couple recently filed a lawsuit against Otsuka America, the firm retained to run that company’s flu clinic and the nurse hired to administer the vaccine. The suit claims the couple has experienced emotional distress over having to wait six months for results of blood tests to determine whether or not an equipment mishap associated with the flu clinic had exposed participants to any blood-borne diseases, such as  hepatitis and HIV.

According to reports, 67 Otsuka America employees had signed up for the clinic, but only two syringes had been provided and those syringes were the type used for administering insulin, not vaccines. Despite having the wrong equipment, the nurse proceeded with the clinic until one Otsuka America employee questioned the breach in protocol. The State Health Department was brought in and determined that, although reportedly the needles were swapped out and the syringes were sterilized between each patient, there was a “slight possibility” that employees may have been exposed to blood transfers. The Health Department ordered free testing for those who participated in the clinic. However, it could take up to six months for any blood-borne diseases to appear. To learn more about this case, read  “First lawsuit filed over bungled flu shots.”

Distracted driver: photo of woman behind wheel of car applying lipstick in rear view mirrorYou may be adept at multitasking in your job or your home life, but when it comes to driving your attention needs to be focused. That message is being stressed this month as police in New Jersey crack down on distracted driving offenses.

Because it involves many aspects of attention, text messaging is considered the most alarming distraction a driver can engage in; however, it is not the only potentially dangerous diversion. Anything that takes a driver’s primary focus off the road, including eating, drinking and grooming, is considered a driving distraction. This month, police throughout the State are making a concerted effort to discourage this behavior. To learn more, read “N.J. Distracted Driving Crackdown In April: What Could Land You a Ticket?

black and white photo of a modern gearshiftAutomakers are constantly updating technology in their cars to give drivers a better experience and to make the cars more efficient. One of their latest innovations, however, is being investigated by The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) to determine whether it is jeopardizing the safety of the vehicles and increasing the risks of accidents.

The current trend among car makers is to install electronic gear shifts, particularly in their luxury model vehicles. These gear shifts have a very different feel to them and, drivers admit, take some getting used to, mainly because they lack the tactile and visual response of traditional gear shifts. Some drivers and safety experts claim this increases the potential for drivers to inadvertently put their cars in the wrong gear.

The NHTSA is investigating reports of about 120 accidents, some of which resulted in injuries requiring hospitalization. The investigation is targeting more than 850,000 cars, most of which are Jeep Grand Cherokee 2014 and 2015 models. One of the biggest complaints is that the vehicles under investigation do not have fail-safe features that would ensure proper gear selection. To learn more about this potential problem, see “Are new electronic gearshifts putting drivers at risk?

seat-design-400-05719664dFor decades now, parents have been told the safest place for their young children when travelling in a car is the rear seat. Due to a design defect, however, that might not be the case.

According to recent reports, safety experts have uncovered a problem with the design of the back portion of the front seats in some automobiles that can cause the front seats to break, resulting in front-seat passengers colliding with backseat passengers when involved in rear-end collisions. This has been known to result in serious – and in some cases fatal – injuries for children riding in the rear seats.

One automaker was recently hit with a $124.5 million verdict awarded against it by a jury in Texas in connection with a 2012 accident in which an 11-year-old boy died as a result of injuries suffered when his father’s driver’s seat broke, causing the father to collide head-first with his son. Car makers reportedly have stated that although the cost to correct this situation would be minimal, the design is intentional so that the seats can absorb energy from an impact. Safety experts, on the other hand, feel the design is dangerous and puts children at risk. To learn more about the controversy surrounding this potential hazard, see “ “No excuse”: Safety experts say this car defect puts kids in danger.”

Photo of worker repairing a roofA New Jersey roofing company was fined more than $43,000 recently for safety violations believed to have contributed to the accidental death of one of its workers last August.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited S&S Roofing for one repeated violation and three other safety violations found in connection with the worker’s death. It was reported that the worker was using a manually-operated hoist to lower tools to the ground, which caused the hoist to tip and fall over the roof’s edge. In the process, the boom of the hoist struck the worker, knocking him approximately 25 feet to the ground. He died several days later from his injuries.

The company had been cited a number of times in the past for violations relating to a lack of proper protections for its employees. For further details, read “Worker’s death spurs $43K in fines against roofing company.”


hoverboards: photo of train at station like those now banning hoverboardsThey were all the craze this past holiday season, but now hoverboards have gone from topping wishlists to topping banned items lists.

As with any personal transportation device, from bicycles to skateboards, hoverboards require some practice before you can master the art of riding one. Immediately following the holidays, the Internet was full of videos depicting epic fails of people attempting to use their hoverboards for the first time. Adults and children alike were urged to wear proper safety equipment when using their hoverboards to protect against injury. This isn’t the danger that is prompting the ban of hoverboards however.

Reports of defective lithium ion batteries bursting into flames while hoverboards are being recharged have prompted authorities on college campuses and officials in transportation authorities to ban hoverboards from their premises. NJ Transit is the latest to join the long list of places participating in the ban. For more details, read “NJ TRANSIT Bans Hoverboards On Trains, Light Rail.”

slip-and-fall: photo of man's foot in black shoe and black dress pants hovering over banana peelSlip-and-fall accidents can result in damages ranging from minor sprains to broken bones and spinal cord injuries. When these falls occur on someone else’s property, the injured party is sometimes entitled to recover damages, but not always. A recent New Jersey case is one such example.

Last Tuesday, a New Jersey appeals court upheld an earlier Superior Court ruling in favor of Burlington Coat Factory in a lawsuit brought against the retailer by a customer who claimed to have slipped on a piece of fruit while shopping in the company’s Middlesex Mall location. Generally, property owners are responsible for keeping their property safe or at least warning visitors of potential dangers until they can be rectified. In this instance, however, the woman allegedly slipped on fruit, which had nothing to do with the store’s business. Because of this, the appeals court ruled, store management could not be expected to have been aware of the danger prior to the accident. For more details on the court’s ruling, see “Burlington Coat Factory not liable for woman who slipped on fruit, court finds.”

inattentive-drivers-400-04486155dFor a long time, safe driving campaigns focused on stopping people from drinking and driving. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over; Don’t Drink and Drive, Arrive Alive; Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk; U Drink, U Drive, U Lose are some of the more memorable slogans used to discourage this behavior.

Although driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol has not been eliminated, it is no longer the number one factor leading to fatal collisions in New Jersey. According to State Police analysis of crash data, driver inattention, or distracted driving, was the leading cause of fatal accidents in the State in 2014. This revelation is not new. In fact, 2014 was the fifth consecutive year in which distracted driving was found to be the top factor leading to accident fatalities. To read more details about this analysis see “This kills more people on N.J. roads than anything else.”

drone-400-08261576dDid you receive a drone as a gift this holiday season or perhaps purchase one for someone on your gift list? If so, you should be aware of new regulations recently announced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) affecting many recreational drone operators.

Officials are concerned that the increased, unregulated use of drones poses a risk of serious injury resulting from accidents with other aircraft. According to a report issued by Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone, there were 327 “close encounters” between drones and manned aircraft reported between December 2013 and September 2015. The majority of these incidents met the FAA’s definition of “close encounters,” which means two aircraft were flying within 500 feet of each other at some point. Additionally, most of the reported incidents took place in areas where drones are prohibited by the FAA. The Consumer Electronics Association predicted that sales of drones for 2015 would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 700,000, with a large number of sales occurring during the holiday season. With more drones in the air, the near-miss incidents can only be expected to increase.

In an effort to cut down on the dangers drones pose to manned aircraft, the FAA is now requiring that drones over a certain weight be registered with the federal government and that recreational users follow certain operating guidelines. For details on the new regulations, read US News & World Report’s story, “Toy Drones Must Be Registered With the Government.”