Expertly Speaking

Cloudy Pools Prevent Drowning Detection


Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert

Recently, a rash of drownings have occurred in cloudy swimming pools which should have been closed to the public. The most recent settlement involved an eleven year old boy who had just finished playing basketball in a nearby park.

In the late afternoon following the game, the victim and his friends went to their apartment complex pool to cool off. The swimming pool was so cloudy that the bottom could not be seen; yet, the pool remained open to residents. Although no lifeguards were on duty, pool attendants were there to maintain water chemistry, check pool passes, and maintain order. The boy, who was the drowning victim, was a weak swimmer yet he asked to borrow goggles from a friend, and with the goggles in place, let go of the side of the pool, disappearing in the deep end.

While his friends soon discovered that he was missing, they were unsure whether he was in the swimming pool or if he had gone back to his apartment. After much confusion, a search of the deep end of the swimming pool was made with long extensions poles, but the boy was not found. No one entered the deep end to look for the boy because of the zero visibility. This eventually became a missing persons case because the boy did not return home by his 8 PM curfew, which he rarely missed.

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Brake Safety

Brake Safety Week is Here!


R. Scott King, BSME, Principal Automotive/Mechanical Engineer

A recent Federal DOT report on commercial vehicle crash statistics has shown that of the commercial trucks found to possess pre-crash mechanical deficiencies of any kind, nearly one in three had deficiencies relating to braking. Given the close relationship between braking performance and stopping distance, proper brake system operation should be among the most closely monitored of all vehicle systems. However, brake system defects have comprised the majority of out-of-service violations issued during post-crash and road-side inspections for as long as records have been kept. Thus, safety-minded organizations recognize the need for continual efforts to reduce brake-related defects throughout the commercial vehicle fleet. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is one such organization.

Throughout each year, the CVSA sponsors various events to promote brake safety and reduce the number, and severity, of commercial truck crashes. Some events are announced in advance and others are not; however, all are a comprehensive visual and functional evaluation of a truck’s braking system. This year, the CVSA has selected September 15-23 as its Brake Safety Week. If this year’s event is similar to past events, the CVSA will inspect well over 10,000 commercial vehicles throughout North America; and, if past patterns hold, here is, approximately, what they will find:

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Water Floating Devices

The Water Floatie Fallacy


Floaties, such as water wings, floatation suits, noodles, and inflatable rafts or tubes are not advised for use with children if they cannot swim. Foam and inflatables are typically associated with floating; however, many can deflate, or fall off, leading a child on the surface to sink down. U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jackets are the recommended approach for children that cannot swim. To read more about how the variations in vests can be life or death, follow the link to the Aquatic Safety Newsletter, written by Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert with DJS Associates Inc., reachable by email at experts@forensicdjs.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.

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U Turn Collision

A U-Turn Dispute: Can it be Resolved with Limited Data?


Justin P. Schorr, Ph.D., Principal Collision / Reconstruction Engineer, President of DJS Associates, Inc.

Heading northbound on a sunny day, a stone mason operating a super duty “work” type truck went to execute a U-turn at a signal-controlled intersection. There were no sight distance limitations and no signs indicating that U-turns were prohibited. He testified that while turning from the left northbound travel lane, he was “rear-ended” by a Toyota passenger vehicle, which was also in the left lane, behind him. Simple rear-end collision… right? [Stealing a line from my father which he stole from Paul Harvey and subsequently beat into the ground] “And now for the rest of the story.”

The dispute is as follows:

While the Toyota operator agreed that she was in the left lane and that the truck was making a U-turn – her claim was that the truck began its turn from the adjacent lane (immediately to her right) and then turned across the left lane, cutting her off. In addition to no measurements being recorded at the scene and the absence of any witnesses, by the time the case reached litigation neither vehicle was available for inspection. However, several photographs were taken which showed damage to the vehicles and the point of rest position of the truck. Through the use of the vehicle specifications along with the damage photographs, to-scale three-dimensional computer models of each vehicle was created which accurately reflected the damage profiles shown in the photographs.

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slip-trip-fall-expert-witness

Even Duct Tape has its Limitations!


Bryan J. Smith, P.E., Construction Site Safety / Slip, Trip and Fall Consultant

Case Description/Summary: A retail patron attempted to exit the establishment’s front entryway when a piece of raised duct tape on the flooring caught his toe causing him to trip and fall down the exterior steps of the facility. The plaintiff received serious and permanent injuries during this event.

Expert Analysis: A site survey was conducted approximately two years after the incident to gather evidence on behalf of the plaintiff. The building’s entryway threshold was found to have duct tape, similar to that seen in photos taken by the plaintiff at the time of the incident. (see photo below). It was apparent that the establishment’s owner/operator used the duct tape to secure loose rolled vinyl flooring at the door’s threshold position. The owner/operator would remove and reapply duct tape at that location “as-needed” when it became loose and detached. His actions established notice of the condition and the temporary nature of the duct tape “repair.”

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Child Car Seat

Counterfeit Car Seat


John R. Yannaccone, P.E., Senior Mechanical Engineer

What do wallets, purses, jewelry, and child car seats have in common? All are on a list of counterfeit items available for purchase. That’s right – child car seats have recently been added to the list per reports of parents and caregivers. While buying a knock-off Coach bag or Rolex might mean you overpaid for the item, the purchase of a counterfeit car seat can place your child at risk.

As with other products, counterfeit car seats are not manufactured to the same quality and standards of the genuine product. This includes poor fitting and flimsy parts; missing components traditionally found on car seats; hazardous chemicals in the fabric covers, and plastic parts in places where metal components are typically used. While these counterfeit car seats may have a similar appearance to the genuine car seats, it is likely they weren’t tested to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, may perform poorly in a crash and place child occupants at increased risk of injury.

While some of the counterfeit car seats lack the labels used on genuine car seats, it is likely some include similar or identical labels to those used by manufacturers. They may include an actual model number from a car seat manufacturer. So how do you recognize a counterfeit car seat in order to assure the seat you are purchasing / using is safe?

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