John R. Yannaccone, PE, Principal Mechanical Engineer
Case Synopsis: A mulch factory worker was injured while trying to clear a clog at the top of a discharge belt on the grinding machine. Reportedly, the machine would build up mulch near the top of the discharge conveyer, causing the conveyer to operate improperly. The plaintiff had shut down the machine and climbed the conveyer to clear the mulch clog near the top of the belt. To assist in doing this, he unbolted and removed metal covers over the upper conveyer shaft. According to the plaintiff, he could not clear all the mulch, so he called down to a coworker to start the machine and turn on the conveyer for a few seconds. The plaintiff was standing at the top of the conveyer with one foot on each side. When the conveyer was started, it reportedly shook enough to cause the plaintiff to lose his balance and he shifted his foot into the conveyer where it was pulled into the top of the machine, crushing the plaintiff’s leg and entrapping him at the top of the conveyer.
Robert T. Lynch, PE, Principal Collision Reconstruction Engineer
Case Synopsis: Four buddies went out drinking one night. While on their way home from the bar their vehicle departed the roadway to the right, as it was negotiating a left curve. The Event Data Recorder (EDR) in the vehicle indicated that the vehicle was traveling above the speed limit, at a speed above the critical speed for the curve, which resulted in the roadway departure and subsequent counterclockwise yaw before a frontal impact with a tree. All four occupants were unbelted, and three of the four occupants were ejected from the vehicle. Two of the ejected occupants were fatal. The one occupant that remained in the vehicle was the owner of the vehicle. The State Police conducted a criminal investigation to determine who was driving, concluding that it was the owner of the vehicle, the one who was not ejected.
Timothy R. Primrose, Mobile Forensic Analyst
It’s spooky season, and while you might be afraid of ghouls and vampires, you might be missing out on a scarier thing: hacking. Depending on the hacking technique, tools that a hacker needs in order to steal data from their victims are fairly cheap. One of the most common ways hackers steal personal data is through the weak security of public Wi-Fi.
Lt. Col Bryan J. Smith, P.E., Construction Site Safety Expert
Case Description/Summary: During the construction of a multi-tenant housing unit, the general contractor directed one of their subcontractors (the one installing sheet metal siding on the building’s exterior) to work in a zone that had the masons actively working as well. The sheet metal worker was using a manlift to access his elevated work area, a location immediately adjacent to and under the masons’ self-supporting, mast climbing work platform (such as a “Fraco” scaffold system unit). While performing his work, the sheet metal worker was injured when a portion of brick was dropped onto him by a mason working on the Fraco scaffold.
Tom J. Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatics Safety Expert
For more than 50 years, water safety agencies and child safety advocates have been promoting stronger, more vigilant supervision of children by their parents and care givers. Mantras like touch supervision, reach supervision, active supervision, and more have all been used to emphasize the need for constant, vigilant supervision in and around the water. While we must continue to motivate adults to do a better job of watching their children at pools, waterparks, and open-water areas, we must remember adults are prone to human error and are often distracted from their parental responsibilities. Most people do not appreciate how quick, quiet, and subtle drownings are, and as a result, even the slightest distraction can result in a drowning death. In my professional opinion, distractions are now and are going to become even more of a problem in the future due to handheld technologies and social media available. We already have had drownings occur while the “supervising” adult took pictures of the (soon to be) victim in the water and began sending the images to families and friends without noticing their child slipped beneath the surface and drowned.
James J. Shields, P.E., Mechanical Engineer
Case Synopsis – A homeowner previously installed a basement sump pump system for the removal of storm water. The system consisted of a float-operated AC-powered motor-driven centrifugal pump, which was mounted in a below ground sump tank. The discharge piping from the pump was run through the sump tank cover, and vertically through 1½” PVC piping and check valve (to prevent reverse flow runback) to an elevation of about 8 feet above the basement floor. From this position, the pump discharge piping was run across the basement ceiling to the interior basement wall, and from there to the outdoors.
In early February 2014, the owner decided to upgrade the system with a backup pump, which would activate automatically upon the loss of AC power to his home. The owner hired a plumbing contractor to install the backup system. Beside the installation of the backup pump and the associated appurtenances, the contractor was required to integrate the new system with the existing pump and system. As reported, the modified system was later completed and tested with both pumps operating independently and jointly in a combined system arrangement.