Connect with us

Living

Workers Could Face Less Concussions Due to Modern Hard Hat Design

Workplace concussions, also referred to as mild brain trauma, may be less common with the introduction of the latest type of hard hats.

The technology built into these hard hats prevents not only the kind of direct collision that might cause a concussion but also the kind that can cause the head to swivel rapidly.

Legacy Biomechanics Lab director Michael Bottlang adds, “The human brain is quickly harmed by a rotational force.” As an illustration, he uses the phrase “drop like a fly” to describe how a boxer will react to a strike to the chin that induces a swift rotation of the head.

As a result, Bottlang and Dr. Steven Madey, an orthopedic surgeon in Portland, have created a hard hat that can deflect rotational stress. WaveCel, a firm the two guys established to produce safer bicycle helmets, manufactures and sells the product.

Experts in the field of brain injuries have long called for an improvement to what is commonly referred to as “industrial safety helmets,” and the WaveCel hard hat is the latest attempt to make that happen.

According to Bottlang, “sadly, today’s more commonly worn hard hats appear similar to the versions from the ’60s.” Alternatively, the Swedish firm MIPS has developed its technology to prevent workers’ brains from spinning suddenly while they’re on the job.

University of Florida Neurosurgeon, Dr. Brandon Lucke-Wold, with no ties to the helmet industry, argues that modern helmets ” manage to keep the brain relatively stationary, so it has a huge amount of potential value.”

Educating Employees About Concussions

Adults sustain around a quarter of all concussions on the job, with most occurring in the construction industry. The most common cause is trauma to the head from falling, which can result in a jarring movement.

The fact that hard hats, unlike sports helmets, haven’t altered much since their creation a century ago may contribute to the prevalence of brain injuries in the workplace. Lucke-Wold uses a cutting-edge bike helmet on his daily commute since he serves patients who have suffered brain injuries.

The hard hats worn by construction workers he saw while bicycling home today, he says, were very identical to those he saw ten to fifteen years ago. The conventional hard hat has a plastic outside and a webbing suspension system inside. A chin strap and foam insulation on the sides are standard features on some models.

If a worker were to drop a hammer from two stories above, for example, this design would do a good job of preventing serious injury to the brain. Standard hard hats, however, perform poorly in the event of an oblique collision.

Researchers hypothesized that this was because an off-center collision could force the helmet to jerk around inside the brain, causing serious injury. The brain, according to a rising number of studies, is particularly susceptible to rotational torque. The brain is similar to the egg yolk in that it is a soft capsule filled with liquid and enclosed in a hard shell.

An egg’s contents may withstand being shaken vigorously without being displaced. However, investigations have shown that if you rotate one vigorously enough, the yolk within will burst even if the shell doesn’t break.

The typical hard helmet provides protection akin to an eggshell. Madey argues that they are useful because “they do a task of lowering force.” If the spin isn’t reduced, though, they aren’t as safe and won’t do as much to avoid injury.

A sand-resistant helmet

WaveCel was originally developed by Bottlang and Madey to create superior sports helmets.

Honeycomb structures are “a light, permeable material that not only can absorb linear stress, but it also breaks that rotation the way sand does,” explains Madey. Several well-known manufacturers have included the WaveCel liner in their sports helmets.

Independent research confirmed that MIPS-equipped and WaveCel bike helmets significantly mitigated rotational force compared to traditional helmets. The research team of Bottlang and Madey revealed that for fall-related head impacts, WaveCel performed better than MIPS.

If Bottlang has one ambition in the coming years, it is to reduce the price which is now between $169 and $189.

ADVERTISEMENT

Living

Riker’s Island Might Get an Enviro-Positive Facelift

Kevin Wells

Published

on

Getting sent to Riker’s Island was like a criminal’s bad luck ending in a Batman movie. For decades, the location has been the New York City prison for the worst of the worst, including much of organized crime too dangerous to be held anywhere else. Being sent “up the river” literally meant spending a good chunk of one’s life on Riker’s Island as an inmate.

Today, however, the same dreaded location is being planned for a major makeover. Instead of more jail cells and prisons, Riker’s Island is getting bounced around as the new home for a green energy hub, literally. Some of the plans project that the location could produce enough power to juice up at least 45,000 homes on a regular basis. While all this project is basically conceptual ideas, it’s part of a bigger movement to finally do away with New York City’s reliance on gas-burning energy.

Riker’s Island itself was put on the path of decommission and shutdown last year. By 2027, the once infamous destination will no longer be home to the City’s worst criminals. Instead, with the prisoners remaining moved elsewhere, the Island is instead expected to have its own version of real estate plastic surgery.

Location-wise, Riker’s is actually in a very good spot. It’s within the overall immediate range of one of the busiest airports in the country, La Guardia. The Island itself is extremely solid and more than capable of handling heavy infrastructure without worry or sinking. The combination makes the Island ideal for a power generating plant that could conceivably put out some 275 megawatts of energy as well as storage six times that size. And in doing so, that same plant could eliminate the current five gas-fired plants the City relies on for major energy production.

Of course, a good thing can’t be understated. In addition to an energy production plan, the planning team determined there is also enough room on Riker’s Island to operate a new wastewater facility. Instead of being the location where the human trash is sent for prison time, the Island would be ideally the place where trash is made good and useful again, at least in terms of wastewater. The Island is so big, it could could handle facilities replacing old systems both in the Bronx as well as Queens and Randall Island.

In a nutshell, the closure and repurposing of Riker’s Island is a bit of a godsend for the City administration in terms of future infrastructure asset-siting. Instead of having to struggle with eminent domain procedures on existing property, including tear-down of dense property mid-city, the City management could instead work with practically a clean slate on the Island.

Continue Reading

Living

Libraries Are Branching Out To Include Bikes

Renee Yates

Published

on

Madison, WI has a total of nine public libraries. They stock everything from classic books to magazines to newspapers to digital reading assets, like audiobooks and ebooks. They also carry an extensive network of disk products such as movies and videos. Now, it turns out, they also lend electric bikes to their patrons as well.

Libraries across the country are looking for more creative ways to make themselves useful, branching out well beyond just books and encyclopedias of the past. Madison’s libraries are no exception, but they may very well be the first library in the U.S. that provides electric bikes for borrowing, like a library book. Well, maybe not the first. There are now 35 other similar programs across the country, from Texas to Vermont. And, bikes may very well just be the tip of the iceberg in whatever else libraries get into the business of lending.

The odd thing is, lots of people avoid cycling for an assortment of reasons. Some think that it’s a pastime only adult white men engage in. Others can’t find anything viable to ride a bike on, whether it be a public sidewalk or a dirt trail. Still others think it’s too dangerous altogether, especially with traffic and uncaring vehicle drivers. And, finally, simply having a place to park and lock a bicycle is a convenience people enjoy in big cities but it tends to be a rarity in smaller towns. Money is a barrier as well; a decent bicycle today averages a couple hundred dollars in cost out the door. And an electric bike is well over $1,000 in most locations they are available.

So, Madison’s library network and management decided that an electric bike was going to be the next big asset in their inventory of things residents could borrow. Partnering with Madison BCycle, the libraries set up a borrowing system, providing a total of 300 different bike units across the town. Similar to what people see with e-scooters in big cities, those with a library card can now rent a bicycle to get around Madison, but without any charge to a credit card. All the patrons need to activate the bike is a key fob they get from a library. Since the start of the program, almost 280 fobs have been borrowed.

From the library’s perspective, the e-bike program has multiple benefits. Instead of having to use Uber or similar at a cost, borrowers can use an e-bike for free. They get exercise which they would not realize with a car. E-bikes connect people and allow them to be more social. E-bikes also help people stay healthier, which avoids medical costs and eventually community costs associated with sickness, lost productivity and public health problems. It also lets patrons try something new around their town and travel more instead of just using a car.

A key factor of success was the fact that Madison City had already put in the infrastructure for the e-bikes all over town. So, they had plenty of docking stations and lockups near libraries and elsewhere. The grid is strategically placed, so no one person has to walk too far to get to an e-bike easily. The only slowdown to the new bike borrowing program was COVID, but since that has passed, bike borrowing is up and running again in Madison.

Continue Reading

Living

Declaring War on Hidden Consumer Fees

Kevin Wells

Published

on

November launched with yet more last-minute grabs for political attention, with President Biden trying to shore up average voter support. And one of the most traditional targets for that support tends to be the consumer pocketbook. In that regard, the President’s announcement to go after hidden consumer fees for entertainment, travel and cable access as well as banking was intended to garner quick support for the Administration, especially given that the midterm elections seem to be going down to the wire in a number of states for 2022.

Dubbed “junk fees” by the President, the consumer account charges are expected to range from bounced check charges to late fees to confusing and ambiguous cable service fees. For the various affected industries, the announcement goes direct to their bottom line as fees represent a viable revenue channel that costs nothing in terms of additional service or goods. For the President, however, the direction is also a high gain if he can translate it into voter action next week with the mid-November elections nationwide.

Using the already existing network of government regulators over various industries, the Biden Administration is expecting to use executive power to protect the consumer benefit and fight greedy businesses. At least that’s how this week’s President’s message comes across. The move is an attempt to shift the enforcement of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, particularly on banks and the billions they raise annually on non-sufficient fund charges and penalties. For example, the banking industry pocketed a no-cost $15.5 billion in 2019.

On the regulatory side, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is generally charged with the role of enforcement. The President’s announcement is generally being seen as a mandate for action by the Bureau, but they won’t be acting alone. The Federal Trade Commission is also getting in on the act with its own additional rules to prevent further deceptive fee practices in various industries.

Aside from banks, various entertainment miscellaneous charges are on the radar as well. Concert ticket sellers, resort fees from hotels and similar are also getting close attention. A common one for recent travelers is the resort fee, which is essentially an ambiguous charge of $25 to $100 a day, added on top of the advertised room rate for nothing but simply being a tourist visiting during the tourist season. Ironically, liberal San Francisco, for example, is notorious for such charges just for delivering a newspaper to a hotel customer.

President Biden emphasized in his early November speech a dedicated strategy to wipe out such fees after examination, or at least to reduce them significantly. How exactly that will occur remains to be seen, but the reach is across industries and is not limited to banks alone. Of course, the messaging is part of a larger theme to show action in the face of the highest inflation rate in four decades. Vowing to protect the family budget, the Biden Administration likely hopes the November announcement will resonate, supporting Democratic candidates in tight races. Critics are quick to argue the move is too little, too late, punishing businesses that create jobs. Who is right will become clearer after the midterm elections are counted in a few days.

Continue Reading

Living

Coal Miner Goes Straight to Game from the Mine for His Son

Shannon Jackson

Published

on

Parents can be extremely dedicated to their kids, especially when special events matter to the child. That was the case with one Kentucky coal miner who made it a top priority to go straight from work, literally the coal mine, and get to his kid’s special event, seeing the University of Kentucky Wildcats and their practice game. Not only was the father noticed, still in his mining gear and dusty from the coal mine, they were sitting right on the sidelines with the rest of his family watching the game. The dedication of the father impressed Coach John Calipari, the sports legend commented online on the photo of the father and, like most things motivating, it went viral.

The father in particular, Michael McGuire, was seen at the practice game in Pikeville, Eastern Kentucky, watching the Wildcats in a scrimmage. There’s McGuire in the photo, still wearing his mining boots and company uniform, and dusty from head to foot with black coal soot. A mining helmet wouldn’t have been out of place in the image.

It was another fan, Sue Kinneer, who actually created the photograph. She had spotted the moment and felt it needed to be shared, posting the image of McGuire watching the game on a handful of fan Facebook pages. Sure enough, Calipari saw the image and reacted to it.

For Calipari, the photograph had more meaning than just a dedicated fan family. His family had solid roots in West Virginia coal mining, so the dedication of the father, coming straight from the mines to his child’s special event resonated with Calipari tremendously. And, to back that up, Calipari posted that he would provide tickets for the miner and his family to enjoy future Wildcat games as VIPs. The tweet response eventually got to McGuire through various Wildcats fans, and they helped connect Calipari with McGuire.

As the miner explained to the local CNN affiliate news station, WKYT, he was back in a coal mine when all the excitement happened online, so he had no clue what was going on after his appearance at the scrimmage game. It was just another shift ending, and McGuire was packing things up to go home when he was told what was going on via his phone. At first, he didn’t believe any of the response.

The actual circumstances leading to the photo was a classic rush to make a fun night happen for the family. McGuire had come off shift, and he had less than an hour to get to the Saturday game. He didn’t want to let down his son, especially when the scrimmage was going to be the boy’s first big game ever. The choice was, miss at least the first half going home and showering, or just go straight to the game and see the whole thing from beginning to end, albeit dusty from head to foot from work. He chose the latter, and the family had a blast, even though McGuire was a big mess.

Now, with the VIP tickets, the family is anticipating a lot more games and more fun than ever with local basketball. For McGuire himself, it’s also pretty special; the miner has been a lifelong Kentucky basketball fan, and he even got to spend time with Calipari in person. For Calipari, the first person he reached in the family was Molly, McGuire’s wife. She touted how sacrificing her husband had been, providing for them all with mining work that by any standard was tough, but it was a good living for them all too.

On the basketball side, Calipari expects the story to be a good life lesson for the university players as well, one that he hopes hits home with the young men about the values of dedication and hard work as well.

Continue Reading

Living

Soul Asylum’s Song About Runaway Children Helped Find Them

Kevin Wells

Published

on

Soul Asylum has had its share of miles on the road. For years, the band toured via a beat up van, and their music was sold on an independent label. It was not the traditional path to make it big in the Hollywood music industry or earn millions by any means. Dave Pirner, the frontman for the band, then realized an even bigger challenge – he might be losing his hearing. The entire experience was driving him to, in his words, a nervous breakdown.

To stay with music but relax his inflamed ears, Pirner switched to an acoustic guitar. One of the songs that came out of that phase was an influential one, Runaway Train. The song lyrics end up reflecting Pirner’s state of mind at the time, particularly when he needed to talk to a friend at the worst of it. Combining an old interest in trains with his mental crash at the time, the words to the song started to flow out seamlessly, the runaway train being a symbol of Pirner’s own feeling out of control at the time. When the song eventually reached the stage and got its first hearing during a band show at the University of Minnesota, everyone realized Pirner was onto something. It helped that the band had some good musicians putting music to the song with additional instruments.

Runaway Train was so good, Soul Asylum shopped it around when sending demo tapes for the band to big labels. Columbia Records signaled a strong enough reception that the band signed on with them, and Runaway Train was recorded with Michael Beinhorn producing. As Pirner reflected, the band worked their tail off on that recording. Beinhorn had Pirner re-sing the words at least a hundred times in that recording session.

Unfortunately, big label production had a cost, and the band’s drummer got replaced. At this point, Soul Asylum’s success was moving out of the road-band and into a full-fledged big label production. So, a bandmember getting hacked for a better musician was not unheard of. But the entire experience of letting go of Soul Asylum’s original drummer was a painful price in experience.

Runaway Train hit the airwaves and the song took off. It took on a life of its own, easily outpacing the other singles from Soul Asylum’s album, Grave Dancers Union. It made sense to Pirner that Runaway Train would become one of their most important tracks. It had a serious message. When it was time for a video of the song, Pirner got the video’s inspiration seeing a missing child billboard driving home in L.A. The song would be about runaways. The connection made sense, Columbia was supportive of the idea, and the band was able to leverage support from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The song started rotation on MTV, including real images of missing children. The hope was that it would trigger finds and help close some missing children cases. Nothing happened at first. However, after a few weeks, kids started seeing their faces on the video channel and began to reach home. Each time, a new child’s photo would be used, and a new case would be closed. Some didn’t always have a happy ending, but it did provide closure for the families. At final count, 21 kids were found out of 36 profiled in the video. It was a classic social impact situation via Soul Asylum’s music and popular entertainment being used for something more than just music alone.

Continue Reading
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Trending