Articles Posted in News & Information

So far, Toyota has recalled more than 7 million vehicles over faulty gas pedals and floor mats. The auto maker has also stopped production and sales of eight models, including its top-selling Camry and Corolla models. The first Toyota recall was issued last year after an auto accident in California killed a highway patrol officer and three members of his family. The officer was in a loaner Lexus and the defective floor mat in the car allegedly caused the accelerator pedal to become jammed. The car accelerated out of control at 120 mph, crashed, and caused four fatalities.

Toyota officials say they have come up with a fix for the gas pedals, which has been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The problem with the gas pedals was that the pedal mechanism could become worn and harder to depress or it could get stuck in a partially depressed position, thus causing sudden or unintended acceleration.

Toyota engineers have been working to insert a spacer in the pedal mechanism in order to increase the tension in a spring and reduce the risk of the gas pedal sticking or staying down. The auto maker has also come under quite a bit of criticism for failing to act quickly on unexpected acceleration issues related to the faulty floor mats. Federal officials say Toyota has known about the problem with the mats since 2007 and has still done nothing to fix it.
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About 55,000 children’s necklaces sold at Wal-Mart stores are being recalled because they contain high levels of cadmium, according to a news report in consumeraffairs.com. Cadmium is a toxic metal listed high on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) list of substances most harmful to the environment. Cadmium is toxic when ingested by young children and can cause several adverse health effects including brain, kidney, lung and bone damage.

These defective products, which were manufactured in China, were sold exclusively in Wal-Mart retail stores across the country from November 2009 through January 2010 for about $5. The recalled jewelry is in the shape of a metal crown or frog pendant on a metal link chain necklace in a crown hinged box. If you have one of these necklaces at home, please take it away from your child and return the product to Wal-Mart to obtain a full refund.
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An alarming report in the Chicago Tribune talks about an increase in reports of violent attacks by felons living in nursing homes. Many nursing home facilities are apparently not complying with a four-year-old disclosure law that requires them to notify state and public health officials when they admit offenders. As a result, some offenders in that state have been living in facilities undeclared for as long as a year.

There have been several recent incidents involving felons abusing or seriously injuring other nursing home residents. Most recently a 22-year-old mentally ill felon pleaded guilty to brutally raping a 69-year-old woman who lived in the same nursing home. In that case, the felon’s background screening had been improperly handled by the nursing home because they used the wrong birth date. In Illinois, nursing homes are required to conduct criminal background checks on all new residents and immediately notify state health authorities when someone with a serious felony conviction is admitted.

However, some homes still fail to conduct these important background checks or make serious errors on the checks, or simply fail to report these felons to officials. Some of these offenders, as a result, went on to commit assaults and serious crimes inside the homes. As a result of the nursing home’s negligence and their failure to take these background checks seriously, they exposed their own residents to danger.
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Dorel Juvenile Group Inc. has issued a product defect recall for about 447,000 baby car seat carriers after many reports of the child restraint handle coming loose and infants falling and getting injured. According to an Associated Press news report, at least three infants have been injured. They have sustained bumps, bruises and even head injuries. The Indiana-based manufacturer of the car seats has also gotten 77 reports of the child restraint handle fully or partially coming off the products.

This recall involves several brands of car seats, commonly sold in retail outlets, including Safety 1st, Cosco, Eddie Bauer and Disney. The defective car seat carriers were sold at department and children’s product stores all over the United States from January 2008 to December 2009. This recall is being conducted by Dorel, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
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It’s not every day that you hear about a race discrimination and harassment case based on a hostile workplace environment. However, a recent seattletimes.nwsource.com article reported on such an incident. According to the report, the city of Seattle recently settled a discrimination lawsuit with an ex-employee of City Light for $812,250. The woman was awarded $503,000 in 2007 for race discrimination and harassment. Interestingly, the city’s appeal after the 2007 case resulted in the appeals courts upholding the harassment verdict, but dismissing the half a million dollar damage award due to the statute of limitations having already expired.

Based on the article, the jury determined that the woman had endured workplace hostility because of her race and that she was underpaid for the work she was doing. The jury verdict also found that City Light discriminated against her and another long-term employee who was awarded $947,000. At the time of the award, it was the fifth incident within ten years that City Light had either settled or had a jury rule against it in a racial-discrimination case. The four prior incidents cost the city-owned utility over $1 million.

Although the above mentioned case did not involve a personal injury accident that caused harm to a worker while on the job, the case is indicative of the many responsibilities that an employer has the duty of upholding. The discrimination case also emphasizes the importance of understanding the elements of the statue of limitations when filing a claim against another person or entity.
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As trusting consumers, we expect the food products we buy to be free of any substance or ingredient that may cause us harm, illness, or injury. When a food product’s labeling fails to include an important ingredient that many individuals are allegoric to, such as soy, it may be subject to a recall.

According to a Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) report by the United States Department of Agriculture issued on November 4, 2009, Curly’s Food, Inc., has recalled an estimated 12,181 pounds of roast beef deli products. This recall is due to the deli products being accidentally mislabeled in that they contain an allergen – soy. Apparently, the mislabeling issue was revealed after a product check by Curly’s Food, Inc.

Based on the report, the roast beef deli products were made on October 5 and 12, 2009, and were circulated to retail-type delicatessens and Department of Defense Commissaries in Washington and 14 other U.S. states. The report on the recalled product states the following about the product: “Cases containing two (2) various size weight deli-faced pieces of “Healthy Ones, Medium Cooked Roast Beef, 97% Fat Free, No Fillers, No Artificial Flavors, Lower Sodium” in vacuum packaged bags. Each package bears a use by date of “01/03/2010” or “01/10/2010,” a case code of “30900-17856” as well as the establishment number “EST. 15878″ inside the USDA mark of inspection.”
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Construction workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in our nation. A recent wenatcheeworld.com report emphasizes this point as it discusses safety precautions at a Central Washington Hospital construction site. According to the article, the M.A. Mortenson Company project supervisor of the five-story building leads a crew of about 50 workers in stretching exercises to help prevent muscles from being pulled or strained. In addition to getting the workers warmed-up so that they aren’t injured while working in weather as low as 32 degrees, the project supervisor also warned the crew to be cautious of slippery conditions on the site resulting from the cooler weather.

The exercises these construction workers do stem from Mortenson’s Zero Injury safety program, which began in 1995. Based on the article, before this safety program was implemented, the company had a higher than average injury rate. Now however, the company has a lower than average industry injury rate. In fact, it recently broke the million mark for man-hours worked without any injuries occurring and resulting in lost work days. This number includes over 36,000 injury-free man-hours on the Central Washington Hospital site.
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As November begins, residents of the State of Washington must brush-up on new laws pertaining to hand-held cell phone use. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, November 2009 marks the beginning of the ban against hand-held cell phones.

Based on the announcement, the other six states participating in the new ban besides Washington include California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Oregon, New York, and Utah, as well as the District of Columbia. Considering that Utah has defined the offense of using a hand-held cell phone as careless driving, it leaves one to question why all the other states issuing the ban have not done the same. On the other hand, speaking on a cell phone while driving will not be considered an offense in Utah unless a motorist is also committing some other moving violation other than speeding.

Many residents of Washington are likely to support the ban against hand-held cell phone use. This support is likely considering that it should contribute to lowering incidents of auto collisions caused by these devices distracting a driver or preventing a motorist from having both hands on the wheel. However, while Washington has banned texting while driving for all drivers, it has not issued a ban on young/novice drivers from using cell phones while driving, nor has a ban been placed against bus drivers from using cell phones while transporting a large bus with many passengers in tow.
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The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a recall of potentially dangerous cribs, the largest crib recall in the history of the United States. The CPSC is advising consumers to stop using The Stork Craft drop-down-side crib because it poses a serious strangulation risk to infants. Approximately 2.1 million of the cribs have been sold and are in use.

The move follows the news that 4 infants have died of suffocation after becoming entrapped in the crib’s drop down sides. There have also been at least 110 incidents in the United States and Canada when the drop-down sides of the cribs became detached, which resulted in dozens of babies either becoming entrapped between the side and the crib frame, or falling out of the crib altogether.

Drop down side cribs have a track record for injuring infants. Nearly 5 million cribs have been recalled over the past two years and the CPSC has discussed banning dropdown sides all together. Adding to the danger in this particular case is the fact that parts used to create the cribs are easily broken, missing, or misassembled. For instance, the crib’s drop-side could come off its tracks and create a “hazardous gap which can lead to infant entrapment and suffocation.”

Stork Craft has released a toll-free number for consumers to call, or to order a free repair kit: (877) 274-0277.
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The connection between nine deaths and extremely flammable women’s robes has instigated a recall by Blair LLC. According to a kfoxtv.com report, a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announcement stated that four additional reports of death linked to the full-length women’s chenille robes have been reported to Blair LLC of Warren, PA since June. Because of this, the company has expanded its recall to incorporate additional products imported from the Pakistani manufacturer. The recall now includes more chenille robes and three other chenille products, all made by A-One Textile & Towel, of Karachi, Pakistan.

What has been quite unnerving to consumers is that these dangerous robes were initially recalled in April by Blair after it discovered that three robes caught fire, including one incident in which a consumer suffered second-degree burns. Considering that the robes fail to meet federal flammability standards, they present great risk of serious burns to anyone who wears the garments while exposed to an open flame, such as a stove in the kitchen. Most of the reported deaths linked to the full-length robes took place when the victims were wearing the robes while cooking. A CPSC spokesman said that the victims were mainly in their 70s and 80s.
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