Monthly Archives: March 2016

New OSHA Report Reveals More Than 10,000 Cases of Severe Work-Related Injuries Across the U.S. in 2015

It seems as if a story of an amputated fingertip ending up in someone’s food pops up once a year. Now, a new study from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found that these severe and grotesque injuries are more common than previously thought.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a new federal rule requiring U.S. employers to report all severe injuries in the workplace led OSHA to find thousands of disgusting injuries that may not have otherwise been reported.Dangerous accident during work

OSHA workers in the organization’s Atlanta office noticed “numerous reports of fingertip amputations among workers using food slicers.” In total, the report found 10,388 cases of severe work-related injuries in 2015 alone, which was the first full year of the new federal requirement.

Among these 10,388 cases, there were 2,644 amputations and 7,636 hospitalizations. The new federal rule has opened OSHA’s eyes to a widespread problem of employers failing to report severe injuries in the workplace.

“Too often, we would investigate a fatal injury only to find a history of serious injuries at the same workplace,” the report stated. “Each of those injuries was a wake-up call for safety that went unheeded.

Slips, trips, and falls typically account for about 25% of all reported injury claims each year, but this report has revealed that minor injuries constitute only a small percentage of claims. In fact, Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels added that “we think the actual number [of severe workplace injuries] may be twice as high.”

The report also caught many companies that were trying to “beat the system” by declining to report these severe injuries.

“In one stunning example,” OSHA reported, “a manufacturer tried to conceal an entire production line from OSHA inspectors after a staffing agency reported the amputation of a worker’s finger.”

“When inspectors arrived, the employer closed interior doors and parked forklifts in front of them, then turned off the lights and told workers to be quiet. Inspectors who uncovered the back room found a row of machinery with exposed parts that could have caused other workers to lose their fingers,” the report continued.

In another example of grossness and negligence, Fox News recently reported that a California woman found the severed fingertip of an Applebee’s cook in her salad. The restaurant chain is investigating the incident, deeming it “unacceptable.”

This Applebee’s example would typically be the end of a national workplace safety conversation that tends to start after these incidents are made public.

However, considering these recent findings from OSHA, there will likely be several other similar stories being leaked in the near future.

Surgeon Involved in $30 Million Medical Malpractice Settlement

A malpractice suit in Chicago has led to a $30 million settlement. much to one family’s relief. According to the Chicago Tribune, a Chicago family was awarded $30 million after a surgeon allegedly performed experimental surgeries on an infant patient.

In 2011, Dr. Mark Holterman performed 25 total surgeries on a child, which resulted in cerebral palsy and irreversible brain injury. The child was born in 2009 with non-life-threatening conditions, one being a leak in his esophagus, and over the course of 17 months, Holterman operated on the child 25 times. The attorney for the family, Stephan Blandin, stated that Holterman’s operations were “not only medically careless and personally irresponsible, but also demonstrated a dramatic lack of oversight from the hospital.”

The $30 million settlement is the fourth largest medical malpractice payment in Illinois that involved a child.

Negligence, along with poor medical treatments, are resulting in a lot of malpractice cases, and in many cases, even worse.

A recent survey by the National Patient Safety Foundation shows that one of the leading causes of death in the entire U.S. is from medical errors. As reported by the Personal Injury Bureau, resulting in approximately 400,000 deaths in 2014, the NPSF found that surgical errors and other medical mistakes causes the third amount of all deaths in the United States.

Occurring in roughly one in every 10,000 operations, serious surgical errors are far too common in the medical field. Including burns from surgical fires, operating on the wrong area, and retained surgical items, these surgical errors can be lethal and cause many problems for everyone involved.

Along with the potential damage done to the patient, the surgeons and hospitals involved have negative repercussions after a mistake in surgery. Coming in at 34%, surgery errors account for the most medical malpractice claims in the United States.

By law, surgeons are held to the same standard as every other medical professional. Surgeons who deviate from the standard of medical care are susceptible to not only medical malpractice claims, but the damage or loss of life of a patient.

With surgical errors coming in at the top, National Law Review reported that from 2007 to 2014, 78% of all medical malpractice claims were from incorrect treatment management, medical errors, and incorrect diagnosis.

A universal protocol has been implemented to attempt to lower the amount of medical and surgical errors. Better training and communication are necessary for improving the healthcare system, and to lower the surgical errors resulting in medical malpractice cases, damage to the patient, or death.

Wide Range of Recalls for Dangerous Products Coincides with Massive Chicago Flea Market Fire

Millions of name-brand household items have been recalled due to safety concerns, and many of these recalled products could have ignited a blaze similar to the one that devastated Chicago two weeks ago.

According to the Chicago Tribune, several popular household products were recalled this week from well-known stores such as Apple, Ikea, Michaels, and Goodman.Air Conditioning Repair

The most notable of these recalls is from Ikea, which was forced to send out an urgent notice to its customers after a fatal flaw was found in its HYBY and LOCK ceiling lamps. The plastic retaining clips that secure the lamp’s glass shade are prone to breaking, potentially leading to the glass shade falling to the floor and shattering.

There have already been 224 reports from all over the world of the lamps’ glass shades randomly falling due to issues with the plastic clips, resulting in 11 injuries. Approximately 840,000 lamps in the U.S. and 427,000 lamps in Canada have been recalled.

Apple was forced to recall almost one million travel adapter kits because of the possibility of shocks when consumers attempted to remove them from an outlet. And arts and crafts store Michaels recalled about 500,000 artificial poinsettias due to the threat of mold developing in their stems and bushes.

While all of these recalls are quite frightening, Chicago residents may be particularly interested in the thousands of air conditioners being recalled due to fire hazard concerns.

As NBC Chicago reported, a massive fire tore through Buyer’s Flea Market in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood on March 8, causing millions of dollars in damage. Fire officials now believe that the fire may have been caused by an electrical issue in a vendor’s booth.

Some of the recalled air conditioners, which were sold at Goodman and other wholesale HVAC stores around the country, can spontaneously combust due to overheating. There have already been 10 reports of the air conditioners catching fire, including four incidents that caused major property damage.

About two-thirds of all U.S. homes have air conditioners, so people in Chicago and elsewhere will want to check and make sure that their AC has not been recalled. The units that caught fire were manufactured by Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps (PTAC).

The recalled air conditioners have a beige power cord labeled with a four-digit date code ending in “06” or “07.” The recall affects about 5,300 units in the U.S., not including an additional 233,500 PTAC units that were recalled in Aug. 2014 for the same issue.

Chicago cannot handle another serious fire, so residents are strongly encouraged to double-check their AC unit and other household products that may have been recalled.

CDC Releases New Guidelines for Prescribing Pain Medication

Prescription pillsFederal regulators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday that doctors must be more cautious when prescribing painkillers. In an attempt to decrease the epidemic of deaths related to narcotics overdose, the CDC encouraged doctors to recommend to their patients physical therapy and over-the-counter medications before prescribing opioids to treat chronic pain.

The CDC is now urging physicians to use non-narcotic drugs in most cases, with the exception of cancer treatment. For patients undergoing palliative and end-of-life care, they recommend only issuing the lowest effective dose of opioids. All other cases, they say, should first be treated without the use of narcotics.

“Overprescribing opioids — largely for chronic pain — is a key driver of America’s drug-overdose epidemic,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden as he made his announcement. “The guideline will give physicians and patients the information they need to make more informed decisions about treatment.”

Critics of these strict guidelines are concerned that this will block patient access to medications. The American Medical Association fears that patients will be directed toward pain treatments that are not covered by insurance. Those in favor of the guidelines believe that this is a positive first step to decreasing widespread narcotics abuse and addiction.

A recent report indicates that over 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. Since 1999, sales of opium-based painkillers have quadrupled, and in 2014, doctors wrote almost 200 million prescriptions for these drugs in the United States. Meanwhile, nearly 19,000 people have died as a result of opioid-related drug use.

“Used appropriately, opioids are an important tool in treating pain,” stated Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran of the Rush Pain Center in Chicago. “But there are very many safe, non-pharmacological and non-opioid pharmacalogical therapies proven to be as or more effective than opioids that don’t carry the risk of dependence.”

Dr. Buvanendran encourages physicians to educate themselves about the alternatives, such as spinal cord stimulation and epidural injections.

Chicago Teens Finding New Ways To Fight Mental Health

Group Of Teenagers Sharing Text Message On Mobile PhonesDepression and mental illness don’t discriminate. All over Chicago, adults and teens are experimenting with new programs to help Chicago teens overcome the challenges in their lives.

At Maria Catalyst High School, a new modeling workshop for aspiring young models is teaching these girls about more than just fashion. YK Management: The Workshop program is teaching valuable self-confidence and body positivity to students in the hopes that it will help boost their self-esteem.

Yoshimi Kiosha, 26, is already bringing the intensive, four-week program to South Shore and Dunbar, and hopes to expand it to high schools all over Chicago. Through the after-school program, Kiosha teaches teens about the modeling industry, runway techniques and interview skills, and brings in professional stylists and makeup artists to teach the girls to look and feel their best.

“I used to see myself as fat, and I always thought fat was unhealthy,” said Elizabeth, one of the girls in the Maria Catalyst High School program. “She explained that being bigger than the petite models doesn’t mean that you’re not healthy.”

At the same time, Morehouse College graduate Corey Hardiman is trying to spread his own message of hope among Chicago’s young men. Every spring break, Hardiman and 16 other “Hope Dealers” travel to Chicago’s South Side to speak to young men about getting into college.

“I believe in the philosophy if I don’t see it, I can’t become it, but if I do see it, I have a vision in mind,” Hardiman told DNA Info Chicago. “Hope Dealers is a two-fold thing. It’s to get students politically engaged, educationally inspired, and to challenge the social quota, defying the [black male] stereotype.”

Every day, about 1,400 young people will make a suicide attempt. Teenagers who suffer from depression are 12 times more likely to do so.

Holy Trinity Catholic High School freshman Jonathan Vega, 15, and Jelani Jackson, 14, recently won a competition for their app idea. After some of the teens’ classmates committed suicide, Vega and Jackson participated in the international “World Series of Innovation” competition, winning praise for their app idea.

The Aegis is an app and bracelet that would act as an early warning system if someone is at risk of extreme behavior. One day, the teens hope to put the idea into practice, helping more teens struggling with mental illness to reach adulthood.

Chicago Based Boeing Rolls Out a New Self Cleaning Toilet Prototype

On average, 8 million people fly everyday. Some like to read, others prefer to sleep, and many opt for the plane’s entertainment system to take advantage of their movie selection. But no matter what, chances are that as a passenger on plane, you’re going to have to use the plane lavatory — whether you want to or not.

However the popular aversion to plane bathrooms, particularly because of sanitation worries, may have an end in sight — Chicago-based Boeing Co. said on Thursday that it has invented an airplane lavatory that cleans itself.

Jeanne Yu, Boeing Commercial Airplanes director of environmental performance said, “We’re trying to alleviate the anxiety we all face when using a restroom that gets a workout during a flight.”

The prototype uses self-cleaning technology to kill 99.9% of germs, using ultraviolet light to clean itself after every use — in just three seconds.

Yu explained that in the prototype, “We position the lights throughout the lavatory so that it floods the touch surfaces like the toilet seat, sink and counter tops with the UV light once a person exits the lavatory. This sanitizing even helps eliminate odors.”

Boeing uses Far UV light, which, it says, is different from the harmful UVA or UVB lights found on tanning beds. The new design also features a toilet seat that lifts and closes on its own, a hands-free faucet, soap dispenser, trash flap, and hand towel.

Some of the touchless features are already in use on Boeing planes, said Yu, but the combination with the new UV sanitizing “will give passengers even more protection from germs and make for an even better flying experience.”

The concept, which Boeing has patented, will “require further study before it can be offered to airlines,” so the innovative new design may not become a reality just yet.

3 Invaluable Pieces of Marriage Advice From Divorce Attorneys

Sometimes, the only thing harder than having a happy marriage is finding marriage advice from a credible source. But believe it or not, divorce attorneys are one of the best sources for marriage advice out there. And before you object, just think about how many kinds of couples they see every year and how many types of marital problems they have encountered.
With this in mind, The Huffington Post asked several divorce attorneys for their best love and marriage advice. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • A strong marriage isn’t just about love — it’s about tolerance.
    According to Melissa B. Buchman, an attorney from Beverly Hills, CA, love will only get you so far in a marriage. Rather, it’s about having the ability to tolerate the parts of your spouse that you dislike. While the glimmer of love may fade, a strong tolerance will not.Divorce“As we get older, your partner’s quirks will only magnify. So if you can’t tolerate it now, you for sure are not going to be able to tolerate it in the future,” said Buchman. “Tolerance may not be romantic, but it is the key to a long-lasting marriage.”
  • It’s okay to make your spouse a priority — even over your kids.
    While this one might not be the most popular or widely shared piece of advice, it shouldn’t be entirely discounted. Karen Covey, an attorney and divorce coach based in Chicago, IL, has watched countless couples get divorced after placing just about everything as a priority before their marriage.
    “We are all busy these days. It’s far too easy to put your job, your house, your activities and your kids before your spouse,” said Covey. “Don’t do it! While many people believe that their kids have to come first, if they don’t put their spouse first and their marriage eventually sours, it’s not going to be doing the kids any favors. If you value your marriage, choose to put it first.”And Covey has good reason for giving such advice. Each year, the parents of around 1.5 million children in the United States wind up divorcing.
  • Love is about the little things.
    Marriage is certainly hard, but taking note of the small victories and tiny moments in your relationship is one of the best ways to keep the love alive. According to Natalie Gregg, an attorney in Allen, TX, it’s important to stay present in the moment instead of getting caught up in the big picture.
    “Marriage is work but worth the effort,” said Gregg. “Go on dates, speak one another’s love language and cherish the little things. Remember that love looks and feels very different as your relationship changes and evolves.”

Push for More Apprenticeships in Chicago Insurance and Financial Industries

In its Chicago office in January, global investment firm Aon plans to launch an apprenticeship program, reviving a traditional training method as a way to nurture skilled workers and grow the talent pool.

Another investment firm, Zurich North America, which started its first class of apprentices in Schaumburg earlier this year, and Aon brought together Chicago-area leaders from 15 major firms to discuss creating an apprenticeship system. Such systems in the insurance and finance industries are common in Europe.

The effort is supported by the Labor Department, especially as the federal government seeks to double the amount of apprenticeships by 2019.

This is considered particularly relevant with jobs going unfilled due to lack of skilled workers and the rising student debt crisis. Unlike, for instance, the U.S. goods and services exports, which supported an estimated 9.7 million jobs in 2011, insurance and financial services find themselves with a shortage of new talent.

The industry plans to partner with community colleges, hoping to draw from its talent pool. Aon currently has a partnership with City Colleges of Chicago, where it will launch its apprentice program starting in 2017.

“If the pipeline is only through four-year colleges, then you are missing out,” said Bridget Gainer, the vice president of global public affairs for Aon. She added, “Let’s change the pipeline to fit what’s out there.”

The Monday meeting was designed to interest other companies in the apprenticeship program, including JPMorgan Chase, Northern Trust, Mesirow Financial, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The Labor Department awarded $175 million to 46 grantees that have promised to pledge, train, and hire more than 34,000 apprentices in diverse industries. Part of this massive effort is overcoming and “reversing a cultural shift” that has stigmatized apprenticeships and other vocational programs to second their status in the minds of many Americas, said Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu.

Taxi Companies in Chicago Aren’t Coping Well With Uber’s Rise in Popularity

The city of Chicago is going through an interesting phase of public transportation changes, and it’s all thanks to Uber.

Photo credit: Olivier Aumage

Photo credit: Olivier Aumage

Chicago officials were supposed to launch a program on Jan. 29 this year that officially required all of the city’s 12,700 licensed cab drivers to connect to one of two “ride-hailing apps,” according to the Chicago Tribune. These two mobile apps, Arro and Curb, are part of a bigger “Chicabs” app program which was designed as a way to “help taxi companies claw back a customer base” that has increasingly turned to Uber or Lyft ride services.

The only tiny problem was that the city missed its own deadline. Many taxi drivers have not been keen on signing up for the program, but they have admitted that it’s a small step toward securing taxi company jobs.

As Crain’s Chicago Business reported, the ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft have caused taxi medallions to plummet in value. The average price of a taxi medallion in Chicago in 2014 was around $325,000, but this dropped to $229,000 in 2015.

As the city’s taxi industry fumbles, Uber has been making several changes to improve its services. ChicagoInno recently reported that Uber made adjustments to the way that passengers can choose their rides. Two services offered by Uber, uberPOOL and uberX, have been redesigned within the Uber app to allow passengers to request a “shared ride” or “your own car,” and estimated price differences are displayed together.

As many app developers will attest, even small changes can make a big difference in customer engagement. The majority of mobile app developers make improvements to an app at least twice a year, and many of these improvements focus on simple big fixes or changes for ease of accessibility.

Although Uber isn’t just focused on the city of Chicago, the company has made it clear that it sees a strong demand for its services and intends to continue growing — regardless of what the city’s taxi industry is doing.

“I-90 currently owns the title of the ‘nation’s worst bottleneck,’ costing residents 16.9 million hours of wasted time and a staggering $418 million in lost productivity per year,” said the company in a statement last year. “When it comes to cutting congestion and pollution in Chicago, technology is an important part of the solution.”

These 5 Chicago Teams To Represent the USA in Chinese Startup Competition

multitasking in handsStartup competitions like the annual TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco have become high-profile incubators for nascent technology companies, separating the tech wannabes from the “unicorns” in the making. This April, five Chicago startups will head to Qingdao, China to compete in the Sino-US Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition, which connects U.S. startups with Chinese investors.

A maximum of 20 U.S. companies and university teams will compete in the international competition, and already five startups from the Chicago area have been selected as finalists. Local startups Reliefwatch, Tovala, RiMO Therapeutics, Audiovert, and NETenergy received a paid trip to China after winning a regional competition held on Tuesday, Feb. 29 at the Chicago Innovation Exchange in Hyde Park.

In addition to 30 Chinese teams, participants from the University of Maryland, Virginia Tech, and San Jose State University will also compete. In April, the finalists will compete for $100,000 in prizes to help fund their ideas.

Startup competitions are just one of the new financing options entrepreneurs can use to get their idea off the ground. For instance, Audiovert, a finalist from Northwestern, raised $3,900 for its music tech startup on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. RiMO Therapeutics, one of the other local finalists, was recently awarded $250,000 from the UChicago Innovation Fund.

Then there are organizations like Techstars, a global startup accelerator with a program in Chicago. Built in Chicago recently reported that Techstars Chicago graduate Infiniscene just raised $1.8 million for its cloud-based video game broadcasting service.

In the U.S., a quarter of all new businesses fail in their first year, while half will fail by their fourth year in business. Startup accelerators, competitions, and crowdfunding campaigns offer new ways for startups to raise capital in those crucial early years.

In the tech world, startups that go on to achieve a billion-dollar valuation are known as unicorns. Companies like Airbnb, Uber, Snapchat, and Pinterest are notable examples of this phenomenon. It’s an ambitious goal in a cutthroat industry, one that prizes innovation at all costs.

Yet because many of these startups are attempting to innovate on existing business models, that can make it difficult to perform traditional market research like benchmarking analysis. How do you compare your startup’s business model to the competition when there is no competition?

While there are more ways than ever for Chicago tech startups to raise capital, Infiniscene founder Stu Grubbs told Built in Chicago that ultimately, it’s old fashioned hard work that pays off in the end:

“Grubbs attributes much of the company’s success to its Midwestern work ethic, and the team’s passion for what they do. At Techstars, he said they got a reputation for coming in first and leaving last every day — including weekends.”