Monday, March 30, 2009

Fisher Price Recalls 3 in 1 High Chair

Fisher Price had yet again joined the bandwagon of companies that ordered recalls of their own products from the market. The recall was prompted by a report of a child who sustained a skull injury in an accident using the company’s high chair product.

The Fisher Price 3 in 1 high chair had been recalled due to its faulty features. The seat descends or leans backwards from its high chair frame when the booster seat button is released while the child is still seated. Moreover, the seat back can separate if not fully snapped in place. These features pose great fall hazard to young children.

The company voluntarily ordered the recall of all Mexico-manufactured high chairs which were sold exclusively at Target for $100.

Authorities advised consumers especially those who already purchased one to stop using the product immediately.

Products intended for children must be checked and scrutinized before they are sold. As young children are oblivious to dangers, they are the ones most likely to get hurt. Otherwise, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers can be held liable for injuries and harm caused by defective products under product liability.

In addition, parents must also ensure that all products being used, eaten or consumed by their children are manufactured by companies which have high regard for safety.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Measures to Battle Unemployment

California is one of the states badly hit by the economic slowdown. In fact, the unemployment rate currently stands at 10.5% which is 2% higher than the national jobless rate.

Seeing the need to address this issue, the state senate voted to approve two bills that would provide additional funds to unemployment insurance benefits.

Currently, most California workers receive employment insurance benefits for the duration of 59 weeks. If the proposed bill is approved, AB 23 X3 would give additional 20 weeks of unemployed insurance benefits.

The funds to be used for this benefit would not cause additional burden to the state, as it will come from the federal stimulus package. The Assembly already approved the bill and now awaits Governor Schwarzenegger’s signature.

The second bill, AB 29 X3 was aimed at establishing the “alternative base period” to decide if an unemployed individual who has earned sufficient wages can be eligible for such benefits. If passed, a worker’s recent earnings would be used as basis for one’s determining eligibility, which is more advantageous to seasonal workers.

With the increasing rate of unemployment cases, the primordial consideration is to find ways on how to help unemployed Californians in their daily existence like feeding their family and paying for their bills. The two bills, if enacted, hope to address these needs.

To know that both the Legislature and the Schwarzenegger’s administration are moving and working as a team to deal with this employment dilemma is a relief. It creates the impression that Californians, especially the unemployed, are taken care of by the government.

Friday, March 27, 2009

BUI Policy Reintroduced

Boating is a more popular recreation during summer and fall. Consequently, it is during these seasons that boating accident also rises.

The U.S. Coast Guard revealed that motorboats have the most accident with 44%, personal water crafts with 24% and cabin motorboats with 15%. Over all 21% of deaths were attributed to alcohol use.

Consequently, authorities saw the need to address this matter. The California State Senate is reviewing a bill that would make boating at par with driving in case of intoxication.

Senator John J. Benoit, crusader against drunk driving, introduced Senate Bill 154 allowing authorities to suspend boater’s licenses if found boating under the influence (BUI). As Vice Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, Senator Benoit said that drivers of both cars and watercrafts have the same reckless mindset.

California Department of Boating and Waterways reported that about 55 deaths transpired on California waterways in 2007 and half of it involved intoxication.

This bill was just a re-introduction of The Department of Motor Vehicles’ BUI regulation which was stopped by the California Court of Appeals for lack of explicit statutory authority.

If passed, Senate Bill 154 would amend state law thereby permitting DMV to resume its license suspension policy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wheelchair man died in a crash

Pedestrian accidents increase due to the risks involve just in crossing the streets. In fact, injuries or deaths are more attributed to pedestrian accidents than car collisions or mishaps.

If an able bodied person is in threat for danger when crossing the street, what more for a person bound in a wheelchair?

Cross walks and crossings have designated access ramp for people in a wheelchair. However, the threat of being in danger is greater for them compared to able bodied people.

The limited mobility of people in wheelchairs was manifested in an accident happened in Santa Rosa.

Richard Trenam, a 58 year old wheelchair-bound was hit when crossing Guerneville Road crosswalk. He remained on life support until his death last Monday, March 23.

Antonio Salano Villa was the driver of the car that hit Treman. There were no signs of intoxication or drug use. He claimed that he had the green light at the time.

The crash was under investigation. Police officers were urging any one who witnessed the crash to step up and shed light to what really happened.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Workers Deserve Better Protection

Workers may be at the bottom of the company food chain. But, without them, it is impossible for a company to still continue its operation and cater to the needs of their consumers.

Because of this, it is important to provide them protection from workplace accidents.

A recent accident in Orange County involved the death of two victims and injury to others as they were working on their night shift when an electric water heater exploded in a plastic factory.

Aside from the two deaths in Solus Industrial Innovations, two workers sustained minor injuries while two others refused to be administered with medical treatment. The blast has caused great deal of damage.

Reports indicate that the blast was felt and heard by firefighters in the nearby fire station although there was no fire resulted from it.

Though the company expressed their remorse towards the incident and promised help to victims of the explosion, one may still think that there should have been extra caution on the part of the company that could have prevented the accident.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Radical Changes of Employee Free Choice Act of 2009

The Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 is yet another controversial bill passed under the Obama Administration. This Act, when signed into law, would mean another victorious milestone for the employees.

The Act, otherwise known as the “card check”, would affect the employers in three major ways.

First, the Act eliminated voting by private balloting when organizing a union. The Act provides that if the majority of the employees authorized union organization, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization.

Second, the Act also touched on how negotiations are undertaken between the employer and a newly organized union. It required a binding arbitration in case of disagreement. The arbitration panel shall decide the case for not more than 2 years. No appeal is recognized.

Third, the Act provided greater penalty in case of discrimination. Currently, the National Labor Relations Act provides that employees who are terminated for unionism would be entitled to back pay and reinstatement.

However, under the proposed bill, the employee would be entitled to damages or an amount triple the back pay and the employer would be subject to civil penalties up to $20, 000.

With the provisions of the bill, employers certainly would not take it sitting down. Employers, however, are urged to be prepared for the potential passage and effect of this bill.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Discrimination Suits Hit Record High

Among the most common work issues is discrimination. It has been a societal dilemma since time immemorial.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reported a 15% increase or 15,000 more cases involving workplace discrimination.

EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru, in its statement, revealed that he has not seen such an increase in magnitude. He could not however say if it signified a trend although he admitted that employment discrimination remained a persistent problem.

Recession has even fueled the increasing number of discrimination cases. Older workers had been badly hit by this. Eileen Applebaum, visiting scholar at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said that laying off an older worker means more savings on the company than laying off a younger worker.

Racial discrimination has been the most frequently filed discrimination case with 35.6% or an 11% increase from 2007.

Retaliation ranked second increasing by 22.6% from 2007 while cases on sex discrimination increased by 14%.

EEOC, however, admitted that recession could not only be the factors for the increasing complaints on discrimination. Factors such as diversity in the workforce, awareness on employment laws and systematic litigation are contributory to these alarming numbers.

The recent data relayed to by the EOCC covered only up to September 2008. Hence, a more alarming data is yet to come.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Basic Tenets for Employers

Employees and workers may have been at the bottom of the work pyramid but are the main source of services. Companies function well mainly because of them. Consequently, they must be taken cared of.

One way of taking care of them is by giving them benefits, paying for any and all expenses which they may have been incurred in connection with their work or for the advantage of the employer.

As the state regulates the employee-employers relationship, laws are enacted to build harmonious relationship between them. Compensation laws are implemented to prevent any abuses and safeguard the relationship.

For instance, workers compensation laws provide that employers should compensate employees for expenses in case of accident while employees waived their right to sue them for damages.

Medical benefits should be given promptly, afford speedy litigation for personal injury cases, shield employees from unreasonable delays or costs and promote open study of accidents and human anguish.

Employers are obliged to observe these laws under pain for suits or claims for damages. Employers should remind themselves of their worker’s compensation obligations and find ways to control costs.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Avoiding Accidents: Are We Safe at Home?

Accidents happen virtually everywhere, even at our own homes.

Normally, we feel safe when we are in the comforts of our home, believing that we are protected from any terrible incidents that might happen. However, almost every place and every corner we go to, there is danger just lurking around.

Like the fire accident that happened in Santa Ana. There was a report of fire at the Aspen Apartments in the 3300 block of South Bear Street last Thursday afternoon. This fire, which is so massive that the heavy smoke from it could be seen from miles away, has resulted in the death of one. Homicide and arson investigators are still looking into the case and the cause has not yet been determined.

Even if insurance companies or some other responsible party will pay for damages, the horrible death of someone cannot be paid by any amount of money. It is of utmost importance to always make sure that are surroundings are safe, even at our homes, to prevent such accidents from happening and avoid experiencing such life-changing difficulties.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pro-Employee Steps of the Obama Administration

Obama is starting to make his presence felt by everyone. First, the stimulus plans now, the signing of Ledbetter Bill into law.

Ledbetter Bill was drafted to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire and Rubber. In this case, the court ruled that lawsuits over race or gender discrimination could no longer be filed if claims were based on a previous decisions made by them 180 days ago or more.

The Supreme Court rejected the continuing violations doctrine pursued by Ledbetter.

In this new law, employees could now file a discrimination claim regardless if the incident happened 180 days ago or more. The law removed the time limit and the case can now be filed notwithstanding the staleness of evidence or death of witnesses.

Certainly, this new law would trigger more litigation against employers as the passage of it is retroactive. This also serves as a wakeup call for employers to be fair and impartial to all their employees.

After the Ledbetter Bill comes the Paycheck Fairness Act. Under this Act, employers were asked to meet certain standards on wage structures. Such that wage disparities were due not to sex or race but solely job related.

We’ll just wait and see how employers react to this another pro-employee law.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Lead Law under Scrutiny

With the ever-growing complaints and incidents of lead poisoning and lead related cases, Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a federal law regulating lead use, was enacted.

The law would require all products sold for children 12 years old and below be tested for lead and phthalates. It aimed at protecting consumers especially children from lead poisoning and other related risks.

Consequently, dirt bikes and other recreational vehicles tailored for kids were pulled from the market fearing that they may be a violation.

According to the lead law’s advocate, this law is what we need. On the other hand, critics said the law is too broad.

The recent lead law has made many sellers fearing for their businesses. It is because products not tested for lead would be considered hazardous. Consequently, a hazardous product would not be on the buyer’s list. It would mean fewer earnings on their part. In today’s financial set up, lesser buyers means suicide.

Rep. Michael Burgess, D-Texas, wrote Consumer Product Safety Commission to provide exemptions. Unfailingly, the commission exempted product made from natural materials, electronics or those, which are by nature inaccessible to children.

With the public clamor for regulation on lead use, it was a relief to know that the government is listening and is taking steps.

The law may have some flaws or loopholes which may be cured in time but for starter its best to have it than none at all.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cell phone’s Life Taking Effect

Pedestrian accidents are due to several factors. Negligent crossing, negligent drivers, lack or improper use of cross walk, lack or deficient stop lights are only some factors of the prevalence of pedestrian accidents.

In recent studies though, phone use is as much dangerous to pedestrians as to the drivers. Peter D. Loeb, Economics Professor of Rutgers University, Newark, found that cell phone use was the main reason for the continuing increase in pedestrian accidents.

Loeb revealed that back in mid-80s, cell phones had “life-saving effect” as users were able to call 911 immediately after a crash or emergency. Consequently, it prevented deaths and further injuries to victims.

However, when the number of cell phone users attained a “critical mass” of about 100 million, its “life saving effect” became a “life taking effect”.

Loeb and his fellow authors recommended that government should take aggressive steps against cell phone use especially when driving or crossing the streets.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Fiery Situation

When a fire breaks out, we tend to panic, be scared and be shocked. Our senses seem not to coordinate with our body that some of us forget to react or confront the situation.

If you are 93 years old and your home is caught on fire, your weak body, blur vision and distorted senses are only some of the contributing factors on why you may not respond to such an emergency.

This has been true to an old woman who died after her two-story home was engulfed with fire. She suffered 35% of burn all over her body.

Reports refused to name the old lady until family members are notified of her demise. However, it appeared that said woman was left at home all by herself.

If the fire was caused by someone’s negligence, then, the family members has every right to file a case for wrongful death.

Old age can be a complicating phase of life. Guidance, assistance or supervision is required of family members in dealing with an old parent, friend or relative.

If family members could no longer attend to the needs of an old loved one, it would be wise to send them to nursing homes. It is not advisable to leave them alone. As they can barely take care of themselves, how could they possibly respond to urgent situations such as fire?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hazardous Toys Recalled

If you fear for your children’s safety then you should see to it that their toys are lead free and non-choking.

Your children’s safety should never be compromised. Hazardous toys once it gets into their system spell even great dangers.

Adding to the list of companies recalling hazardous toys is CBB Group Inc.

Last week, CBB Group Inc. announced that it is recalling about 39,000 toys suspected to contain more than the allowable lead content standards and those, which have small parts that could lead to choking.

The companies’ baby rattles, fishing games and pull-a-long cars have detachable parts that could choke children. Its bubble guns and mini-pull back cars have surface paints containing excessive levels of lead.

I commend CBB Group Inc. for voluntarily recalling these toys. They managed to undergo the recall process without waiting for reports of injuries or related incidents. Other companies are only up to profits that they refuse to recall their products until complaints are received.

For parents, choose the things you give to your children. Make sure you check the labels and buy the trusted brands. In case of doubt, do not buy them. Sometimes, it is better to buy the more expensive brands if it means safety of your children.

For those who have been a victim of products liability, you have the right to boost your claim by consulting an expert personal injury lawyer.