Tree stand accidents occur frequently during hunting season, causing a variety of injuries from broken bones to paralysis and death. Tree stand accidents involve a variety of causes, including falls from the tree stand, collapse of the tree stand, fires, self inflicted gunshot wounds, and asphyxiation. A study by the Center for Disease Control examined hunting accidents from 1979-1989. 214 of 594 deer hunting related accidents involved tree stands. 52% of these tree stand accidents were due to falls from the stand, 32% were due to collapse of the tree stands.
This issue of Forensic Clues is the second installment of an examination of ladder accidents. Last month we explored stepladders, this month we will be discussing extension ladders. Ladder accidents are a very common occurrence. Over half a million people annually seek medical attention due to ladder accidents. Over three hundred people are killed yearly in these often preventable accidents. This is a serious problem.
Ladder accidents occur frequently, often with very serious consequences. Ladders are tools that people use repeatedly, at home and on the job. The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) states that there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries annually due to ladders in the United States.
A study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) of important dust explosions in the U.S. from 1900 to 1956 found 1123 explosions. The type of material involved in the explosions ranged from wood, food and feed, plastics, coal, metals, paper, and chemicals. These explosions resulted in a total of 676 fatalities. The most frequent explosions consisted of food particle explosions. These accounted for over 50% of the total explosions. Wood dust explosions were also frequent, accounting for 14.5% of the total explosions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 1,600 and 2,000 amputations occur annually due to power press operation. Another 18,000 people receive less serious injuries annually. Injury statistics compiled by OSHA for the years 1975 through 1983 confirm these figures. These numbers are alarming and unnecessarily high. Power presses can be used safely when the presses are properly designed to minimize the hazard that the operator is exposed to.
Every year there are thousands of debilitating injuries and deaths on farms. Many of these are related to power take-off's (PTO's). PTO shafts are used to power various farming implements, from mowers, hay balers, augers, and many other types of farming machinery. The PTO shaft was invented in the 1930's. The PTO shaft is essentially a shaft powered by the tractor engine that rotates at high speeds, providing power for a wide array of implements. While this provides a convenient source of power to drive farm implements, serious accidents can occur due to entanglement in PTO's. PTO's must be properly equipped with guards including master shields which covers the stub shaft and universal joint. These shields prevent inadvertent contact with the rotating machinery. Contact with unshielded rotating PTO parts can instantly pull a person into the PTO, causing catastrophic damage.
Rock and ice climbing have become increasingly popular in recent years. Climbing is now a popular form of exercise and adventure, and a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately the greater numbers involved in the sport has led to greater number of accidents. Climbing gyms have brought climbing to areas without outdoor rock resources. These indoor gyms use artificial holds to simulate rock walls. Indoor climbing gyms typically have climbs ranging from twenty feet to fifty feet, or more. Bouldering areas are shorter in height, with adequate padding to protect climbers from falls without the need for ropes.
While many accidents involving products are the result of a product defect that leads to injury of the product user, accidents can also be the result of a failure caused by lack of maintenance or inspection. This issue of Clues will examine the theory behind failure to maintain accidents, as well as provide examples of common accidents that are due to a lack of maintenance.
Material science is a broad field that has applications in numerous fields. In product injury cases, material science can help identify defects, determine causes of accidents, determine failure modes, and identify inconsistent manufacturing processes.