Articles Posted in Safety

Boston has a new bicycle sharing program, implemented on July 28th, and it is off to a great start. The program, which is known as Hubway, stations bicycles throughout the city at terminals. You can rent a bike for a short period of time, or become a member and have a year of privileges.

Nicole Freedman and David White at the Government Center Hubway Station in Boston

Hubway is another step in making Boston a bicycle-friendly city. The city, under the inspiration of Mayor Menino and with the guidance of Olympic cyclist and Bicycle Program Director Nicole Freedman (shown at right with David White, at the Government Center Hubway Station), has expanded its bicycle lanes and its bicycle parking, and it now has added convenient bicycle rentals. 

Hubway deploys 600 bicycles at around fifty stations around the city. A bike can be picked up at one station and parked at another, making the program convenient for commuters, students, and tourists. There is even an phone application called Spotcyle which gives up-to-the-minute data on which terminals have bikes or available parking docks.

Every year, Massachusetts families and organizations come together to honor the men and women who are killed and injured while on the job. This year, on April 28, the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and the Greater Boston Labor Council are co-sponsoring Workers’ Memorial Day and are publishing the 2011 report: Dying for Work in Massachusetts: Loss of Life and Limb in Massachusetts Workplaces.

“It is critical that Massachusetts employers improve the safety of their workplaces to protect their workers. The high rate of death and injury on the jobsite is still taking a horrible toll on Massachusetts workers and their families. It is also unfortunate that enforcement continues to suffer budget cuts,” said Boston personal injury lawyer David White.

As stated in this sobering report, its purpose is to “highlight the fact that work continues to kill and maim workers in epidemic and alarming numbers. The saddest aspect to this loss in lives and limbs is that work-related injuries and illness are preventable.”

The report describes in clear detail the tragedy facing Massachusetts workers and their families. In 2010 alone, 47 Massachusetts workers lost their lives while on the job. (Breakstone, White and Gluck has the privilege and honor of representing the family of one of these deceased workers in their claim for his pain and suffering and wrongful death while on the job.)

The top three causes of fatalities among Massachusetts workers in 2010 were transportation (12 deaths: drivers or workers on roads involved in motor vehicle accidents and plane/helicopter crashes), falls (9 deaths: half being construction site accidents), and commercial fishing (4 deaths).

On Workers’ Memorial Day, we honor the fallen by demanding stronger workplace health and safety protections under the Occupational Health & Safety Administration, because it is every person’s right to be safe in their own work environment.

Join us on Thursday April 28, 2011 from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. outside the Massachusetts State House as we mourn for the dead and fight for the living.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a proud sponsorof MassCOSH, an organization with a great reputation for protecting workers and improving workplace safety. 

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Jonathan’s Sprouts of Rochester, MA, has widened the recall of its sprout products due to Salmonella contamination. The recall now includes all sell-by dates, including its conventional, organic, and bulk products. The recall includes other sprouts, such as radish, dill, and gourmet mix. Check below for stores where these products were sold. Do not eat them! Return them to the store for a refund.

More information: FDA Recall Press Release.



The USDA has found Salmonella, a dangerous bacteria related to food poisoning, in Jonathan’s Alfalfa Sprouts products.

alfalfa.jpgSalmonella, if ingested, can cause serious and sometimes fatal illness and infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. The symptoms of Salmonella include fever, diarrhea (possibly bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.


Jonathans Sprouts has issued an immediate recall of the following effected products:

  • Jonathan’s 4oz Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Jonathan’s 4oz Alfalfa with Radish Sprouts
  • Jonathan’s 4oz Gourmet Sprouts
  • Jonathan’s 4oz Alfalfa with Dill Sprouts
  • Jonathan’s 8oz Alfalfa Sprouts
Only these products with a sell-by date of 4/23/11 are affected by the recall.  If you have purchased any of these defective products, you are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.
The recall affects the following stores in Massachusetts: A&P, Grand Union, Stop & Shop, Shaws, Hannaford, Donnelans, Foodmaster, Truccis, and Roche Brothers.

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has asked manufacturers to re-design window blinds so as to eliminate the risk of infant wrongful death from strangulation.

Window blind manufacturers have known about the problem for decades, starting with a federal study in the 1980s that tied 41 child strangulation deaths to drapery and blind cords.  Since then, manufacturers have dragged their feet when it comes to improving safety.

And infants are still dying. The NY Times reports that in August 2009, Kathleen Leeson put her 2-year-old son down for a nap.  A short time later, Ms. Leeson discovered her son hanging, lifeless, an inch off the floor with the window blind cord wrapped around his neck.  Further, in 2002 1-year-old Cheyenne Kaiser was found by her mother strangled sitting up in her crib, which was next to the window, with the inner window blind cord wrapped around her neck.

The CPSC has released a safety alert for concerned parents explaining the risk of personal injury and wrongful death to children from the various types of window blind cords.  In its safety alert, the CPSC makes four recommendations to help prevent these tragic strangulation injuries:

  • Use only cordless window blinds in all homes where children live or visit;
  • Do not place cribs, beds, or furniture close to windows where children can climb and gain access to the cords;
  • Make all loose cords inaccessible; and
  • In windows with looped bead chains or nylon cords, use tension devices to keep the cord taut.

Moreover, in response to the industry’s unenthusiastic attempts at improving product safety, a task force of regulators, consumer advocates, and industry leaders have come together to find a solution by the fall of 2011.

The CPSC has also warned the window blind industry that, if it cannot reach a solution soon to minimize these life-threatening dangers, it may face mandatory safety regulations.

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Over 7 million candles have been recalled due to concerns that the cup holding the candles could melt or catch fire.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has stated that the defective products, tea light type candles, were sold under the brand names Chesapeake Bay Candle and Modern Light. 

The affected candles were sold in Massachusetts and nationwide at retailers such as Home Goods, Target, and Wegmans between July 2009 and February 2011.

The clear plastic cup holding the candles is at risk for melting or igniting during use.  There has been one consumer report of the candle’s plastic cup melting during use.

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It is hard to imagine that experienced surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses would need a checklist to avoid obvious mistakes in surgical procedures, but the hard evidence is that simple checklists make an enormous difference in patient outcomes. Complications and medical malpractice rates are cut dramatically. The evolution of the checklist is chronicled in a recent book by Boston surgeon Atul Gawande. books[1].jpg

In his book, The Checklist Manifesto (Metropoliltan Books 2009), Dr. Gawande, who practices at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, points out that the average American has seven operations in his or her lifetime; that there are fifty million operations performed every year; and that there are “upwards of 150,000 deaths following surgery every year–more than three times the number of road fatalities.” And, research has shown, “at least half our deaths and complications are avoidable.”
Inspiration for the procedural checklists for surgery came from the airline industry, which has always used checklists for routine and emergency procedures. Thousands of hours are spent honing the lists so they are not overwhelmingly detailed and difficult to follow. And they work.
Working with the World Health Organization, Dr. Gawande and the research team studied complication rates in a variety of hospitals around the world, some teaching institutions in wealthy countries, some from the most impoverished countries, and some in between. Complications and deaths were assessed. The checklist was implemented and changes were studied. Within months, major complications had dropped by 35% and deaths had dropped by 47%.
The 19-point checklists now in use include some remarkably simple steps: The operating room personnel introduce themselves and state their roles; they discuss any known risk factors; they make sure they have the right patient, the right procedure, and the right part of the body. The list also includes more details such as confirming medication allergies, reviewing the anesthesia plan, discussing concerns about blood loss, identifying pathology specimens, confirming sponge and needle counts, and sending important information to the recovery room.
These simple procedures have saved lives, reduced complications, and saved probably hundreds of millions of dollars and immeasurable pain and suffering. A checklist that costs almost nothing to perform (just a few minutes of everybody’s time) is easily saving far more than any possible medical malpractice “reform” that is being considered in the halls of Congress or state houses around the country.  Further fine-tuning of medical practices, not punishing the injured, is the correct path to malpractice reform.
Advice to Consumers: If you are planning for a surgical procedure, make sure your surgical team is using a checklist to avoid complications in your case. According to Dr. Gawande, over 94% of medical professionals say they would want a checklist for themselves.

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A snowblower is a valued asset in Massachusetts amid a winter which has already blanketed the region with several feet of snow.

But while a snowblower may look relatively simple to operate, remember it’s a powerful tool that must be used with caution. Each year, approximately 5,700 people visit emergency rooms for injuries associated with snowblowers, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

A new Massachusetts law took effect in 2010, requiring property owners to take reasonable care to remove all snow accumulation from their property and keep accessible areas safe to travel. A landowner who fails to do so may be held liable for snow and ice injuries that occur on his or her property.

In a winter like this one, keeping your property safe from slip and falls means more than pulling out the snowblower and salting down the front steps. Snow has built up on roofs, buried heating vents and left long icicles hanging over frequently traveled areas.

Plan ahead and avoid an emergency on your property. Here are some tips from the Boston snow and ice accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck:

  • Check your property now before the next snowstorm. Chances are there are existing snow patches and icicles you can clear so they do not become more dangerous.
  • Read the user manual that came with your snowblower to avoid injuring yourself and others.
  • Many injuries associated with snowblowers occur when consumers try to clear clogged snow from the auger shaft and blades. Never attempt to do this with your hands. Purchase a newer model that comes with a clearing tool or if necessary, use a long stick.
  • Snowblowers emit a large amount of carbon monoxide. Always start your machine outside and never inside a garage.
  • Dress appropriately when using the snowblower. Long scarves and jacket drawstrings can easily get caught in the machine and cause an accident.
  • Check online to see if there have been any product recalls or updates involving your snowblower since last winter. The CPSC website is a good place to start.
  • Walk around your house and identify the locations of all heating and dryer vents. Clear them completely. Make sure they are accessible so you can reach them to remove snow during the next snowstorm.
  • As you walk around your home, inspect your roof for icicles. The longer icicles should be removed to prevent accidents and someone from being hit. It is unsafe to use a ladder in the snow. Purchase a snow broom or snow roof rake from your local hardware store.

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The arctic air of January has hit Massachusetts and families around the state are working to stay warm, safe and avoid injury. It’s essential this time of year to be informed and make plans for your home heating system, water pipes and going outdoors. The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck offer these tips:

Oil Heat Systems

  • If you heat your home with oil, have a qualified oil heat service technician inspect and clean your system annually to remove soot build-up and ensure safe operation.
  • Avoid replacing or repairing parts of your furnace or oil heating tank yourself. This could cause personal injury and damage your home. Contact a professional.
  • Ask your oil company about Automatic Delivery to avoid disrupting your heating service. The company will use a computerized system that signal when tank volumes are low.

Space Heaters

  • One in every seven space heater fires in the past five years has resulted in a death, according to the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office. If you use a space heater, be safe. Keep the space heater three feet from any person, pet or flammable material.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off if you are going to sleep.

Wood-burning Stoves

  • Clean ashes from your wood-burning stove in between use to avoid clogging the vents. Avoid injury by disposing ashes in a metal container away from your home.
  • Keep three feet away from wood-burning stoves to avoid burn injuries.
  • Only burn wood in your wood-burning stove. Never burn household garbage, cardboard, plastics, foam or other materials.

Protecting Your Water Pipes

  • To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation, such as newspapers with plastic to keep out the moisture.
  • Allow a small amount of warm water to trickle from a faucet near pipes you are concerned will burst. This allows the water to keep moving so it cannot freeze.
  • Learn how to shut off your water valve if it bursts.
  • Purchase a freeze alarm for your pipes. These can be purchased online for less than $100.

Keeping Safe Outdoors in the Cold

  • Minimize time outdoors, especially for the elderly and young children.
  • Dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing rather than a single-layer of thick clothing. Cover all areas with mittens, hats and scarves. Try to wear water repellent fabrics.
  • Hypothermia only occurs in extreme cases, but watch out for signs of shivering, memory loss, disorientation and exhaustion. If these symptoms are present or the person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Also watch out for frostbite. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in the fingers, toes, the tip of the nose and other areas. Seek medical attention immediately for these symptoms.

Click for more safety tips on other home heating devices from the Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck congratulates MassCOSH for its tireless advocacy of a new law which bans flammable floor finishing product in Massachusetts. The law takes effect today.

The law bans the commercial use and sale of lacquer sealer, which can easily ignite and is linked to three deaths of floor finishers in house fires.

“This groundbreaking law will save lives and end floor finishing fires that have caused so much pain and destruction,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of MassCOSH (the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health).

turkey1.jpgAs your family prepares for Thanksgiving, a lot of thinking goes into what will be on the Thanksgiving table. But more important than what you put on your table is how to cook the delicious food ….safely!

Thanksgiving is the leading day for cooking fires in the United States. Three times more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on the average day. In 2008, fire departments responded to 1,300 home cooking fire accidents on the holiday, compared to 420 on an average day, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Cooking is a leading cause of fires year-round. Two out of every five home fires in the United States result from cooking. Between 2004 and 2008, an average of 460 people died in cooking fires. Three of every five people who suffered personal injury were hurt trying to extinguish the flames themselves.

Protect your home and family this holiday with these tips:

  • Unattended cooking is the most common way kitchen fires get started. Do not leave the kitchen while using a stovetop. If you must leave, turn the stovetop off until you return.


  • Be alert. Do not cook if you are tired or have consumed alcohol.


  • Clear your stove of anything that could catch on fire, including oven mitts, utensils and towels.


  • Use a cooking timer so you do not forget you are cooking.


  • Do not leave the house when cooking.


  • If you are deep frying, go outside. Do not stuff the turkey. When deep frying, use turkeys that are 12 pounds or less in size. Avoid using too much oil by doing a preliminary test using water. Place the turkey in the cooking utensil and add water to cover. When you remove the turkey, measure the amount of water. Use the same amount of oil.


  • Do not cook your turkey in a brown paper bag from the grocery store. They are unsanitary, emit toxic fumes and may ignite under the flames. Use a commercial oven cooking bag.


  • If you do have a cooking fire, leave quickly. Do not try to put out the fire yourself. Close the door to contain the fire. If you do attempt to fight the fire, make sure others leave and you have a clear exit.

For more information on Thanksgiving cooking safety, visit the websites of the National Fire Protection Association and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

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