Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Category Archive: Safety and Design

The Difficult Task of Avoiding Pedestrians While Driving at Night

An alarming 6,516 pedestrians were killed, and 54,769 pedestrians were injured as a result of traffic crashes in 2020 (NHTSA, 2022). A large majority (77%) of these pedestrian fatalities occurred in low luminance conditions such as nighttime while only 20% occurred in daylight (NHTSA, 2022). This dramatic difference between pedestrian fatalities during the night and day is seen even when controlling for driver fatigue and alcohol consumption (Owens & Sivak, 1996). This phenomenon prompts the question as what is so dangerous about being a pedestrian at night? Read More

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The Big Difference Between Conspicuity and Visibility

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Visibility aids, such as lighting, reflectors, and fluorescent material, are marketed to vulnerable road users (VRUs) like pedestrians and bicyclists as a way to enhance their safety on the road. These visibility aids increase the VRU’s contrast within the roadway environment therefore increasing their visibility. However, increasing visibility does not necessarily mean enhancing conspicuity. For example, the key difference between a visible pedestrian and a conspicuous pedestrian is that a visible pedestrian is distinguishable from their background whereas a conspicuous pedestrian “grabs” the driver’s visual attention. Read More

The Best Use of Visibility Aids – Contrast

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There are various visibility aids marketed for vulnerable road users (VRUs). Here, the term VRU is used to describe unprotected road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists. Visibility aids are designed to increase a VRU’s contrast within their environment, making them more distinguishable from the background to a driver. These visibility aids can include both active and passive ways to increase the VRU’s contrast, therefore their visibility. As the name implies, active visibility aids actively transmit light and are powered by a source (i.e., battery powered bicycle headlights and taillights) while passive visibility aids passively reflect light coming from outside sources (i.e., fluorescent, and retroreflective clothing).

There are a wide variety of active visibility aids to choose from on the market. For example, Read More

The FORKLIFT 500 – A Need for Speed

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From a young age, many children are typically drawn to things that are fast.  Fast toys, fast race cars, sports that require speed.  Is it possible that “feeding” this desire tends to make many of us resist, whether consciously or subconsciously, the request or demand to “Slow down!” once we’ve grown up, even when we know that it is the right and wise thing to do?  Now couple this with the natural tendency of most businesses to push for more productivity by doing things faster and more efficiently.  This can be dangerous when we take this combination into a workplace where forklifts are a necessary and integral part of the day-to-day operations.

Race cars are designed to go fast, and they rely on a properly trained and experienced driver to complete a race successfully and safely.  Forklifts are designed to lift and transport heavy loads, and they also rely on a properly trained and experienced driver to Read More

Danger Within Reach

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How far away from a hazard should you stay?  Your parents or grandparents would probably have told you to stay far away, but what are you to do when a hazard is present, and you must work around or near the hazard?  And what exactly is a hazard?  ISO 12100 Safety of machinery – General principles for design – Risk assessment and risk reduction defines a hazard as a “potential source of harm.

Where would a designer of a machine or product start if they wished to protect the user from a known hazard?  Consensus standards are a great place to begin the quest for safety. Read More

HEY…Cover Up Please!

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Machine guards can be compared to the clothes we wear every day.  Indeed, they serve a very important purpose.  Imagine someone leaving their home on a fine, sunny morning wearing nothing but a smile.  Wonder how far they will get through the day before things start going poorly for this individual?

 

 

 

 

 

There will be more than a few raised eyebrows and blushes when he stops into the local Starbucks for his usual morning double-dipped and whipped, chocolaty chip with a touch of pumpkin spice cappuccino fix.  Good luck with that!  Probably going to leave disappointed, empty-handed, and likely wearing handcuffs.  This will be the beginning of a very long, very bad day for that individual.  Had he recognized the risks associated with this type of behavior, and then put forth a little effort to cover up, he would have prevented many unfavorable and possibly life-changing personal and legal problems from ever occurring!

And so it is with properly guarding a machine.  Machine safeguarding helps to protect workers from preventable injuries. Read More

One Small Step…

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Ladders…not a particularly exciting topic I’ll admit.  But hey, we need ladders to help us accomplish all kinds of tasks.  Most people have used at least one of the many types of ladders that are available today.  And the odds are probably pretty good that many of those users strayed outside the limits of safety a time or two while on a ladder.  It is amazing the risks some people will take to save some time or avoid the inconvenience of getting down to move the ladder into a safer position.  I wonder how many of those risks would be taken on a ladder if the users knew they were on camera.

Think about astronaut Neil Armstrong.  He travelled by rocket almost 239,000 miles through space and Read More

The Concepts of Hazard, Risk, and Harm in Machine Safeguarding

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Hazard, risk, and harm are terms that are used in the world of machine safeguarding.   How do these words shape the concept of machine safeguarding? Let’s look a little deeper….

Hazard, which Merriam-Webster defines as a noun, lists its first meaning as a source of danger.

1: a source of danger

2athe effect of unpredictable and unanalyzable forces in determining events CHANCERISK

  b:  a chance event ACCIDENT  Read More

The Use of Taglines to Control Crane Loads

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The adequacy of a crane’s load line to support the weight of the object being lifted is an obvious concern when evaluating a crane lifting operation. Less obvious, but often equally important, is the presence and adequacy of taglines to provide control of the load orientation.

Taglines are simply ropes or lines that are Read More

How Long Before the Pipes Freeze?

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An unexpected severe winter freeze will remind many people and businesses that when water in a pipe freezes, the ice will expand and burst the pipe or pipe fitting.  Large losses will result from flooding when the temperatures rise.  Insulation will help, but not prevent freezing.  Insulation simply slows down the rate of heat loss.  The time of exposure to subfreezing temperature is an important factor.

The American Society of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Handbook of Fundamentals has a short entry on the topic (Chapter 23, page 23.5-6), which gives an equation for estimating the time that it will take an insulated pipe to freeze, Read More

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