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OSHA lost safety inspectors during 2017

Connecticut workers may be disturbed to learn that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration lost 4 percent of its federal inspection force during President Trump's first year in office. OSHA inspectors visit workplaces across the country to issue citations for safety violations. They also note hazardous conditions that may lead to on-the-job accidents.

According to media reports, OSHA lost 40 inspectors through retirement, resignation and other forms of attrition last year. Those positions remained empty as of Oct. 2, 2017, and the losses left the agency with less than 1,000 total inspectors. However, the U.S. Department of Labor told media outlets that "several" new inspectors have been hired and around 25 more are being recruited.

Treating trucks with respect can prevent accidents

More than 2 million tractor-trailers travel U.S. roadways, and sharing the road with vehicles that can weigh as much as 40 tons can be unnerving for motorists in Connecticut and around the country. Collisions with large and heavy commercial vehicles tend to end badly for passenger vehicle occupants, but remaining vigilant and eschewing ill-advised maneuvers can help drivers to avoid accidents and allow them to reach their destinations unharmed.

Few passenger vehicle drivers have spent time behind the wheel of a semi-tractor trailer, and they are not used to coping with large blind spots while maintaining control of cumbersome vehicles. Maintaining proper distances is crucial when navigating around trucks that require the length of almost two football fields to brake to a halt from 55 mph, and being stuck between two tractor-trailers is a particularly unenviable position to be in when evasive action is required.

Nationwide worker death rate increases in 2016

Connecticut residents may be interested to know that the number of people killed in workplace accidents across the United States went up 7 percent in 2016 over 2015. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the rate of workplace fatalities increased from 3.4 to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

More workers were killed in transportation accidents in 2016 than in any other category. One in every four workers who died did so in a transportation-related accident. The second highest cause of fatal injuries was workplace violence, which increased 23 percent. The number of workers who died from overdosing on the job increased by 32 percent. This is higher than usual as the rate of drug-related deaths has increased 25 percent annually since 2012, the federal agency said.

Holidays can be challenging for divorcing parents

For people in Connecticut dealing with divorce or separation, it can be an emotionally draining process at any time of the year. The winter holidays, however, can be a particularly challenging time for people coming to the end of a marriage, particularly parents who are working to share time with their children. Dealing with parenting plans and child custody issues while also navigating family dinners and religious celebrations can add stress to the holidays. However, divorcing parents can take some proactive steps to care for their children's emotions, and their own, during the holidays and on an ongoing basis.

A positive co-parenting relationship and a structured parenting plan can help children feel secure and supported. Otherwise, split time during the holidays can lead to kids feeling like they're caught between two families and two homes. At the same time, for a divorcing parent, this can also bring disappointment and loneliness when the child is spending time with their other parent during holiday events and traditions.

Divorce and splitting retirement accounts

When Connecticut couples divorce, one piece of property they may need to divide is a retirement account. This might be what is known as a qualified plan, including a 401(k), or it might be an IRA or another non-qualified plan. There are different regulations for dividing these types of accounts.

With a qualified plan, if a person withdraws a portion of the money and gives it to a spouse, that money will be taxed and may be considered an early withdrawal. This can lead to a significant reduction in the final amount. However, if the couple gets a document known as a qualified domestic relations order, the tax and early withdrawal penalty will be waived.

Establishing separate credit histories in a divorce

For many divorcing couples in Connecticut, separating finances can be complicated. Once they are done with the process, however, they'll be able to begin building individual credit histories. If a person has a line of credit with the spouse named as an authorized user, that spouse should be removed. This should prevent the spouse from being able to run up bills in the other person's name.

Divorcing spouses should open individual bank accounts. Any shared debts will usually be divided in the divorce, so people should try to pay only their share of debts prior to the divorce. The exception is if the other spouse is not paying the debt and it will affect an individual's credit rating. If this is the case, then it may be necessary to pay.

What to do with a business in a divorce

Connecticut entrepreneurs who are getting a divorce may wonder what will happen to the businesses they own. This will depend upon several factors, including whether they are the sole owners and how long they have owned the business.

The first step is to get a valuation for the business. This is a complex process, so the business owner might want to hire a professional. The appraisal should take both tangible and intangible assets into account. This may include computers and other equipment as well as the reputation and recognition associated with the company's name. If a spouse owns the business, a person might be concerned about making sure that spouse is not hiding any assets.

ADHD medication may lower risk of car crashes

Previous studies showed a link between ADHD and a higher risk of getting into a car accident. However, if a driver in Connecticut with ADHD takes medication, that accident risk may be reduced according to a study published in May 2017 in JAMA Psychiatry.

A person who has ADHD may have trouble paying attention and may be seen fidgeting or tapping. This may make driving itself a more complicated task for a person with this condition, and it may also result in distracted driving. According to researchers, more than 20 percent of car accidents involving drivers with ADHD could have been prevented if the driver was medicated. Researchers looked at health insurance claims from 2005 until 2014 and identified 2.3 million people who had the condition. Of those people, 11,224 ADHD patients had been to an emergency room after an accident.

Car accident fatalities hit nine-year high

Connecticut motorists may have heard that fatal car accidents in the U.S. reached a nine-year high in 2016 despite the adoption of several safety features. It was determined that the increase in the number of fatal accidents were caused by excessive speeding, the failure to use seat belts and the increase in the number of motorcycle deaths.

In 2016, more than 37,400 people were killed in car accidents. This number was up 5.6 percent from the previous year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accident fatalities had been on a downward trend from 2007 to 2014. In 2014, the number of car accident deaths hit an all-time low of about 32,700. On a more positive note, the number of estimated distracted driving deaths fell by 2.2 percent in 2016. In previous years, distracted driving had been increasing.

Smartphones may be causing more car accidents

Traffic safety advocates believe that smartphones are causing more deadly car accidents in Connecticut and across the U.S., but new federal statistics show that distracted driving deaths actually declined in 2016. What is going on?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 448 people were killed in smartphone-related car crashes in 2015. That number dipped even further last year. However, traffic fatalities significantly rose the past two years, and a closer look at the data shows that half of all traffic deaths in 2015 involved cars that were driving straight ahead, rather than veering off the road due to weather or a blowout. Safety experts believe that indicates that some drivers may have been distracted by their phones and simply plowed into something directly in front of them. This hunch correlates with numbers showing that pedestrian, bicyclist and motorcyclist deaths have risen sharply in recent years. For example, pedestrian fatalities rose 21.9 percent between 2014 and 2016. Over the same period, bicyclist and motorcyclist deaths jumped 15.2 and 15.1 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, studies show that smartphone use by drivers has continued to increase.

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