OSHA Cracks Down on Distracted Driving With New Initiative
Nov09

OSHA Cracks Down on Distracted Driving With New Initiative

Most of us can agree that we find it difficult to be separated from our technology. Even when we’re on the job, many of us use our phones — or maintain easy access to them — in the workplace. Piggy-backing on laws that tackle unsafe driving practices related to technological distractions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has now partnered with the Department of Transportation on a new initiative to combat distracted driving that can occur at work. OSHA already requires employers to conduct hazard assessments and uphold important safety practices. These assessments of workplace risks can range from height requirements and managements systems to potential foot injury hazards, as are found in section CFR 1910.132(d) of OSHA’s compliance guidelines. But this most recent initiative takes hazard assessment a step further. OSHA’s primary focus is on the practice of texting while driving. The initiative calls for employers to prohibit any type of policy that encourages or requires workers to text while driving. In 2013, an average of 424,000 people were injured and 3,154 people were killed as a result of car accidents involving distracted drivers. And according to OSHA, motor vehicle crashes on the job are the leading cause of work fatalities every year. Therefore, the initiative is designed to reduce the risk of car accidents due to distracted driving while on the clock. With this new initiative, it’s not enough for a company to simply forbid the practice of texting while driving. OSHA will be looking beyond what’s in the employee handbook or the documents workers have signed pertaining to their cell phone practices. If a business neglects to enforce this no-texting policy or simply looks the other way when they see the policy being ignored, the company itself will be in violation of the rules. Whether the company actively encourages the practice or just doesn’t do anything to prevent it, the outcome will be the same. In addition to the policy changes the initiative puts forth, OSHA will also be rolling out an education campaign for employers, a website with a special video message, alliances with the National Safety Council and other organizations, and a special focus on small businesses and young workers. Wholly 30 states have passed laws to prohibit drivers from engaging in distracting behaviors while behind the wheel. OSHA hopes that this new initiative will highlight the dangers of distracted driving and will help to target the source of the issue. By holding both employers and employees accountable, the organization wants to ensure that everyone on the road comes home safely at the end of the...

Read More
South Carolina Town Destroyed by Hurricane Matthew May Never Recover
Nov09

South Carolina Town Destroyed by Hurricane Matthew May Never Recover

About 90% of all U.S. natural disasters declared by the president involve some degree of flooding, and Hurricane Matthew was no exception. One small town was hit especially hard by the unyielding floodwaters and some wonder if it will ever recover. The town of Nichols in rural South Carolina was not directly hit by the hurricane last month, yet it was completely consumed by the flood. Its location 50 miles inland between two converging rivers caused it to fill up like a bathtub. Residents evacuated the area and in their absence, a confection of water, fertilizer, fuel, and sewage stewed and settled for a week or more. Unacknowledged, the water damage caused toxic black mold to grow and spread, leaving virtually all the town’s homes uninhabitable. Reverend Eddie Collier of Nichols’ Methodist church woke up to find his bedroom completely flooded. While waiting for a rescue boat, he opened a window but had to shut it immediately because “the odor was horrific.” Collier, with the help of church volunteers and AmeriCorps members, had to gut his house down to the studs. He is encouraging others to return home to clean out their houses, but he noted that few are in a rush to come back to the mess. He saw one set of neighbors, but said that they “threw up their hands and left. I haven’t seen them since.” The majority of the town’s 400 residents are disabled or retired, and Major Lawson Battle said that he is concerned about “the citizens who couldn’t make ends meet before this happened.” Few residents had flood insurance, and many cannot afford to take out the loans FEMA is offering. “These people are not getting the resources they need to even get back to town,” said the mayor. “It’s going to take a huge miracle to fix Nichols.” All 22 of the town’s businesses were damaged by the flood. In fact, only two businesses – a seed-cleaning company and an auto mechanic shop – have been able to open back up. A 63-year-old school cafeteria manager, Hazel Lee, was getting ready to retire before the hurricane hit. After losing her home of 40 years, she will now have to put those plans on hold. “If I could afford it, I would relocate myself,” she said. There are ways to be proactive in the face of an impending natural disaster, including investing in flood insurance. However, not everyone can afford to take advantage of those preventative measures. The tragedy facing the residents of Nichols, South Carolina is one example of the devastation caused by hurricanes and other natural disasters in regions that are...

Read More
Federal Rape Lawsuit Against Trump Receives Court Date
Nov08

Federal Rape Lawsuit Against Trump Receives Court Date

Despite all odds, there’s a good chance that Donald Trump will have to actually appear in court, rather than settling out of it. The plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe, alleges that the Republican Party presidential candidate raped her when she was just 13 years old. According to the woman, the incidents took place at a series of parties thrown in 1994 by billionaire, and convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein. Although the credibility of Jane Doe has been questioned, many are quick to point out that the skepticism reflects a bigger problem in our society: rape culture. While an estimated one out of every six women has been a victim of rape and someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the U.S., it’s believed that only 15-35% of rapes are ever reported to the police. This marks the third time the plaintiff has brought forth these allegations in court. Jane Doe did not have a lawyer the first time she filed, and the case was subsequently dismissed. The public has been quick to bring up Jane Doe’s questionable supporters and the fact she refuses to speak to reporters as “evidence” that her claims have no merit. However, Jane Doe’s claims are backed up by witness accounts from a “Tiffany Doe,” who states she worked as a party planner for Epstein during the time of the alleged assault. She says she was responsible for finding young, attractive girls to attend his parties. She also reported bearing witness to Trump’s sexual encounters with Jane Doe, including one incident “where Mr. Trump forcibly raped her despite her pleas to stop.” As the election draws closer, it would seem that Trump’s supporters (or Jane Doe’s doubters, at the very least) are getting bolder. Earlier this week, a scheduled press conference concerning the case had to be called off due to numerous threats that had been sent to the plaintiff. After the cancellation, attorney Lisa Bloom — who is handling the media-related aspects of the suit — tweeted that her firm’s website and emails had been hacked. The case will not be heard in court until after Election Day, but if no settlement is reached, both parties will have to appear in court prior to the presidential inauguration in January. Despite vehement denials from Mr. Trump, the civil lawsuit will be heard in court on December 16. It’s rare that such a case would even receive a court hearing. Today, federal civil cases rarely go to trial. In 1962, around 11.5% of these cases ended up in court, but experts say that only 1% of civil cases ever go to trial in today’s...

Read More
Sen. Warner Calls Upon SEC to Conduct Investigation of 2014 Yahoo Data Breach, As the Tech Company Responds to Concerns Regarding $6 Million Merger
Nov02

Sen. Warner Calls Upon SEC to Conduct Investigation of 2014 Yahoo Data Breach, As the Tech Company Responds to Concerns Regarding $6 Million Merger

  Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D) has expressed concern about the true extent of the 2014 Yahoo! security breach, which was officially reported on Sept. 22 of this year. Sen. Warner wrote a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, asking the department to conduct an investigation on the breach, as he believes that there is more to the story than Yahoo has disclosed. Yahoo reported that 500 million user accounts were compromised during the 2014 breach, but Sen. Warren questions how long the company knew about the compromise before the report was published. In his letter to the SEC, Sen. Warner wrote the following: “Disclosure is the foundation of federal securities laws, and public companies are required to disclose material events that shareholders should know about. “Data security increasingly represents an issue of vital importance to management, customers and shareholders, with major corporate liability, business continuity and governance implications. A breach of the magnitude that Yahoo! and its users suffered seems to fit squarely within the definition of a material event.” According to protocol, any data breach must be disclosed to the company’s investors as well as the public via a form 8-K within four business days. Despite the scale of the breach, no one outside of the company was notified until Sept. 20. Two days before the report went public, Yahoo! informed Verizon. The two companies are in the process of a $4.83 billion merger. The deal also includes a $1.1 billion in employee stock compensation. “I think we have a reasonable basis to believe right now that the impact is material and we’re looking to Yahoo! to demonstrate to us the full impact,” said Verizon’s general counsel Craig Silliman. “If they believe that it’s not then they’ll need to show us that.” On Tuesday, Oct. 18, Verizon and Yahoo! had their first formal conversation about the status of the merger, after the report gave the former a reasonable excuse for potentially backing out. Though the breach is not a breaking point for the deal, Verizon may be aiming to renegotiate the price tag. Reports suggest that Verizon is looking to take $1 billion off the purchase price. The deal is also subject to a breakup fee in the amount of $145 million, payable by Yahoo!. Only 8% of Internet users create unique passwords for their accounts, which is the primary method of deterring future...

Read More