Why Knee Pads Might Not Work

You have given all of your employees knee pads and not the cheap ones either. So, why are you still racking up the worker’s compensation claims?  The answer is simple – knee pads only work if you wear them around your knees.  And if you were them correctly around the knees and you can get over the discomfort of the straps digging into your legs, well then, you are on your way to internal knee damage.  The kind of damage that is due to low blood circulation throughout the leg.

Circulation is Key

If you have ever participated in an ergonomic evaluation, then you already know that ergonomists are highly concerned with the angles of joints – hips, elbows, knees, etc…  Why?  Because delivering oxygen to the muscles allows them to operate at their peek performance. Some Orthopedists are starting to connect the dots to dry tendons or tears in tendons to the use of knee pads.

Identifying Knee Pad Problems

How do you know if the knee pads you have provided to your employees aren’t working – simple, just look at their ankles.  When workers start their day, they typically don their knee pad.  But after a few hours on the job, the knee pads are protecting their ankle.  They become so uncomfortable that workers move the pads down the leg because they don’t want to carry them in their pockets.

Alternatives

So, what’s the alternative?  Many manufacturers are creating workwear with built-in knee pads.  Why is this beneficial?  The first benefit is that the pads are always in the right place – protecting the knee.  Secondarily, the knee pad doesn’t have to rely on straps or elastic to stay in place.  The pad is held in place by a pocket that is designed into the work pants.  This allows free movement of the leg in the pants without creating pinching, sweating, or other discomfort. Most importantly there is no lost circulation due to the knee pad, which eliminates the potential for dried out tendons.

Knee pockets on the inside or the outside? Good question.  We recommend interior pockets.  The problem that arises when knee pad pockets are placed on the outside of the pant, is that the knee pad may become displaced for more valuable cargo.  Interior pockets make the user really think about removing the knee pad.  Once in place, the user would have to remove the pants to remove the knee pad. This eliminates the thoughtless removal of the pad.

At the time of this story, we were only able to identify one manufacturer or workwear with knee pad pockets on the interior of the pants.  Try Kneegard Workwear Pants Made In The USA.  They currently offer two versions – a denim and a canvas.  They are made in the United States, which should be a big plus for Union employees.

OSHA Adopts GHS

It’s been a long time coming.  And it’s finally here.  OSHA has adopted the GHS system.  What is the GHS System?  It’s the United Nation’s  Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of chemicals.  Remember, MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and the HCS (Hazard Communication Standard), well GHS is the bigger, better, more advanced younger brother.  GHS was developed in 1992 to unify the world’s chemical classifications and labeling, making it easier to identify hazardous chemicals throughout the world.  Why the reluctance of the United States to join the movement?  Well, that’s a story for another day.

On March 20, 2012, OSHA announced their adoption of GHS and stated that it would be published in the Federal Register on March 26th, 2012, which means that the Rule will take effect 60 days after its publication.

Since we are talking about dates, the big date to keep in mind is December 1st, 2013 which is drop dead date for employers to ensure that affected employees are trained on the new GHS system.

Benefits

There are some major benefits to employees who will be the end user of the new and improved Safety Data Sheets (SDS), which have traditionally been referred to as MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets).  The new SDS will have a specified set of 16 sections, which all chemical manufacturers must adhere too.  This is a great improvement over the MSDS system, which allowed manufacturers to develop various sets of MSDS’.  While most contained the same sets of information, many where in random orders, which made it difficult for end users to understand the information.  The SDS will streamline this issue and provide clarity to the end user.

What About California

Remember, since California is a State Plan State, it must provide equivalent or better standards that Federal OSHA.  This means that if California does not have the system in place, you will need to follow the Federal – you need to follow GHS.

What Not To Do

Don’t throw away your old MSDS’ just yet.  Remember there are various standards both in Federal OSHA and State OSHA plans which require employers to keep MSDS’ for 30 years after any exposure or incident involving exposure.

What To Do Right Away

Make sure that your chemical hygiene officer or MSDS manager is fully aware of the changes in the standards.

Look to ensure that all of your suppliers have plans to conform to the new GHS system and provide you with updated SDS as implementation dates come along.

Download and read the Federal Register to become familiar with the new regulations.

Attend some free webinars and training session on the topic.

If you have questions or concerns about the new GHS sytem, don’t hesitate to contact us.

We launched a new website

Today, we launched a new website to make it easier for our members to receive and share information.

CSSP Requirements

Federal Court Upholds California Impound Statute

Federal Court Upholds California Impound Statute

By Jim Curry & Erin Fox

The Ninth Circuit Federal Court has written a new chapter in the nationwide debate over whether state impound laws authorizing or requiring impound of cars driven by unlicensed drivers. Under California Vehicle Code Section 14602.6, law enforcement officials can impound and hold vehicles for 30 days when driven by unlicensed drivers. more

Federal Court Upholds California Impound Statute

Federal Court Upholds California Impound Statute

By Jim Curry & Erin Fox

The Ninth Circuit Federal Court has written a new chapter in the nationwide debate over whether state impound laws authorizing or requiring impound of cars driven by unlicensed drivers. Under California Vehicle Code Section 14602.6, law enforcement officials can impound and hold vehicles for 30 days when driven by unlicensed drivers. Section 14607.4 states this penalty is "warranted to protect Californians from the harm caused by unlicensed drivers." Some governmental entities have struggled with this policy, which is occasionally unpopular, but could lead to massive liability if it is not followed. The statute is necessary because of the "community caretaking doctrine," and because the municipality and police could be sued if there is no impound, and the car subsequently is driven and causes damage, or is damaged where it is left after the traffic stop. Civil rights groups, on the other hand, criticize these policies because of the impact on undocumented immigrants. Some California municipalities have gone so far as to choose not to enforce these statutes, which could also lead to liability if the car and driver subsequently cause damage. On February 8, 2011, a federal court upheld the statutory scheme Salazar v. City of Maywood, et al. (Ninth Circuit Case No. Case: 08-56604) on appeal from Salazar v. Schwarzenegger (District Court Case No. CV07-01854).

The 21 Salazar plaintiffs sued several municipalities (including the City and County of Los Angeles) and various State officials, claiming that plaintiffs' constitutional due process rights were violated when their vehicles were impounded, and that the statutory scheme unfairly impacts undocumented immigrants. The plaintiffs vehicle owners had loaned their vehicles to unlicensed drivers who were then pulled over. The Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court's decision in favor of defendants on the federal due process claims in an unpublished Memorandum:

"Section 14602.6 applies only in very limited circumstances. The statute authorizes impoundment of vehicles for up to thirty days when an individual is found to be driving with a suspended or revoked license or without ever having been issued a driver's license. Cal. Veh. Code § 14602.6(a)(1). This limited application accords with the California legislature's determination that such a temporary forfeiture is warranted to protect Californians from the harm caused by unlicensed drivers-a determination we have no basis to reject. Cal. Veh. Code § 14607.4."

It was also important that there was a notice and hearing procedure:

"The statute also provides for notice and an opportunity to be heard. Owners of impounded vehicles have "the opportunity for a storage hearing . . . in accordance with Section 22852" in which they may contest the impoundment or present mitigating circumstances necessitating an early return of the vehicle. Cal. Veh. Code § 14602.6(b)."

The Salazar plaintiffs relied heavily on Miranda in which the Ninth Circuit considered an Oregon statute allowing impoundment. Miranda v. Cornelius, 429 F.3d 858 (9th Cir. 2005). Because the Miranda vehicle was impounded from the owner's driveway after the owner was teaching his unlicensed wife how to drive, the Court found that the impoundment was an unreasonable seizure. There was no need for impoundment under the "community caretaking doctrine" because the vehicle was in the owner's driveway, not impeding traffic or creating a public safety hazard. The unique facts and circumstances of the Miranda case are clearly different than the Salazar impoundments, because all of the Salazar vehicles were stopped on public streets or highways and, in each case, no owner-authorized, licensed driver was immediately available to retrieve the vehicle. Even the Miranda Court held that "impoundment is proper to prevent the immediate and continued unlawful operation of the vehicle or to remove a vehicle left in a public location where it creates a hazard," and that an officer acting within the scope of his or her community care-taking function is not required to consider "the existence of alternative less intrusive means" when the vehicle must in fact be moved to avoid the creation of a hazard or the continued unlawful operation of the vehicle. Miranda at 865, n6.

Further, unlike the Oregon vehicle statutes at issue in Miranda, under California law, the imposition of a 30-day impoundment is an administrative punishment for the violation of a criminal statute --- it is a misdemeanor offense to drive without a license. The Salazar Court acknowledged that the administrative punishment was intended to deter continued illegal use of the vehicle. Under California Vehicle Code § 14607.4(f), "it is necessary and appropriate to take additional steps to prevent unlicensed drivers from driving, including the civil forfeiture of vehicles used by unlicensed drivers."

And certainly, the failure to impound vehicles could result in municipal liability. Recently, a man brought suit against Solano County for serious injuries suffered when his trailer was struck by a vehicle driven by someone with a suspended license after the Solano County Deputy Sheriff failed to impound the unlicensed driver's vehicle during a traffic stop weeks before the accident. Simpson v. County of Solano, 1998 WL 34353105 (Respondent Solano County's Brief) at 1, 4. Also, in Alameda County, a man won a $5,780 verdict against the City of Oakland because a police officers upon arresting the man, released his vehicle to his spouse rather than impounding the vehicle. The plaintiff claimed that his vehicle was never returned to him, and that the officers had disposed of his personal property in violation of his rights. Childress v. City of Oakland, 1998 WL 1746806.

In a case with more dire consequences, an unlicensed driver with a previous DUI conviction caused a collision with another vehicle in Montgomery, Alabama, injuring 5 passengers, including four minors, and killing a sixth passenger, also a minor. Norris v. City of Montgomery, 821 So. 2d 149 (2001). A police officer had stopped the unlicensed driver's vehicle earlier the same day but did not impound the car pursuant to a state statute mandating impoundment. Id. at 152. The injured passengers and the estate of the deceased passenger brought a statutory negligence suit against the City seeking damages for wrongful death, personal injuries and property damage. In bringing their claim, the plaintiffs relied on the Alabama Safe Streets Act (subsequently repealed), which contained impoundment provisions similar to California Vehicle Code section 14602.6. The Alabama Supreme Court rejected the City's discretionary-function immunity defense and reversed the trial court's grant of the City's motion for summary judgment as to the plaintiffs' statutory negligence claim. Id. at 155.

While the public debate about the impound law will no doubt continue, the federal court has verified that the impound policy in California Vehicle Code Section 14602.6 makes sense, and helps avoid substantial liability.

Jim Curry is a litigation partner at Sheppard Mullin, based in the firm's Los Angeles/Century City office. Erin Fox is a Los Angeles-based litigation attorney and non-profit consultant. The authors assisted defendants in the preparation of the briefing in the Salazar case.

CDC MRSA Podcast

MRSA Podcast - Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus 

Key facts about MRSA infections in the United States, including schools and healthcare settings.  

Key facts about MRSA infections in the United States, including schools and healthcare settings.

CDC Podcast

 

 

CDC Questions and Answers about MRSA in schools. 

Division of Workers’ Compensation proposes changes to permanent disability rating schedule

Changes to the permanent disability: The California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) is proposing changes to the permanent disability rating schedule (PDRS), which will increase benefits for injured workers by an average of 16 percent. The proposal is contained in draft regulations posted to the DWC online forum at  for review and comment. Comments will be accepted on the forum until Friday, May 23. more

Recall of Gas Grills and more!!!

Before you fire up the grill!!! Onward Manufacturing Recalls Gas Grills Due to Fire and Burn Hazard. Get the full CPSC report more

 

California PRIMA is committed to the wellbeing of the public and our members. We want you all to enjoy a safe spring and summer as you move your activities outdoors. Here are a couple more links to help keep your families safe.

 

TJ Power Sports Recalls Dune Buggies Due To Ejection Hazard - The seat belt adjustment for the shoulder buckle can break during impact or stress, posing an ejection and injury hazard to driver and passenger. more

 

Children’s Storage Bins Sold at Lowe’s Stores Recalled Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard - Surface paint on the storage bins could contain excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard. more

 

We hope you find this information helpful and enjoy a safe and healthful Spring.

 

Thank you,

 

California PRIMA Board of Directors