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The Perils of Assuming Everything Is Fine: Normalcy Bias and the Rushed Approval of the Boeing 737 Max 10 Jet

TASA ID: 22108

Congress just cleared the Boeing 737 Max 10 jet for certification in the omnibus end-of-year spending bill without further safety enhancements. That’s despite significant opposition by those demanding a safety upgrade: from the union representing the 15,000 pilots at American Airlines, from the families of those killed in the 2 deadly crashes in 2019, and from Rep. Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Transportation Committee. Rep. DeFazio led the key congressional investigation into the Max crashes, and said the language in the spending bill was included over his objection.

The Business Case for Leaders Promoting the New Boosters

TASA ID: 22108

With a triple pandemic of COVID, flu, and RSV hitting the US hard this winter and resulting in an explosion of cases, business executives need to take the lead on promoting the newly-updated, Omicron-specific boosters. Doing so will help reduce the number of sick days taken by their workers, minimize COVID outbreaks and superspreader events in their companies, reduce employee fears about returning to the office, and position executives as trustworthy participants in stakeholder capitalism.

The Danger of Armchair Psychology

TASA ID: 22108

Imagine you are driving along the highway, and see an electric sign saying, “79 traffic deaths this year.” Would this make you less likely to crash your car shortly after seeing the sign? Perhaps you think it would have no effect.

Neither are true. According to a recent peer-reviewed study that just came out in Science, one of the world’s top academic journals, you would be more likely to crash, not less. Talk about unintended consequences!

The study examined seven years of data from 880 electric highway signs, which showed the number of deaths so far this year for one week each month as part of a safety campaign. The researchers found that the number of crashes increased by 1.52% within three miles of the signs on these safety campaign weeks compared to the other weeks of the month when the signs did not show fatality information.

That is about the same impact as raising the speed limit by four miles or decreasing the number of highway troopers by 10%. The scientists calculated that the social costs of such fatality messages amount to $377 million per year, with 2,600 additional crashes and 16 deaths.

A Universe of Crash & Liability Risk Factors Face Work Fleets

TASA ID: 9075

If you are the owner or operator of a motor transport or other work vehicle fleet, you have probably gotten that phone call from one of your drivers.  The driver calls in to report their involvement in an on-job traffic crash.  The ensuring Q&A sequence is predictable.  You’ll first ask about location and severity.  Are you okay?  What about the other vehicle and its occupants?  Is the crash scene now secure?  Should the company send someone to the scene?

For severe crashes, that may be the gist of the initial conversation.  First things first.  But the topic of causation will always follow.  How did the crash happen?  Who was at-fault?  Any laws broken?  Are we potentially liable?  As a manager, you will ask yourself whether the crash was preventable (i.e., your driver could be blamed), what were their critical errors, and whether you should impose consequences.  For many work vehicle crashes, this sequence constitutes most of the depth and breadth of managers’ investigations of their fleet crashes.

Worker Fatigue and Vehicle Crashes in the Oil/Gas Industry

TASA ID: 9075

An oilfield services company in South Texas employed just one mechanic to maintain its entire vehicle fleet, which included tractor-semitrailers, pickup trucks, and other work vehicles.  We will call him Mr. Alvarez, not his real name.  Mr. Alvarez worked 78-hour weeks, on average.  A typical workweek might include six 11-hour days plus being called in about twice a week for nighttime repairs, often at remote locations.  One evening he got home to his family at 8:00 pm following a two-day period in which he worked 19 hours straight followed by six overnight hours off, and then followed by another 12+-hour day.  That is 30+ hours of work in just over 36 hours.  Mr. Alvarez was a family man who liked to barbecue for his wife, autistic son, and other close family in his back yard.  He was finishing a barbecue dinner when he received a call from his supervisor to report to work.  Upon arriving there, he loaded a truck tire onto his company pickup and began a nearly two-hour drive to a remote site for a tire change.  He left the company’s gate at 12:10 am and drove at 75 mph on a state highway for about 30 minutes before striking the rear of another oil company’s tractor-semitrailer at full speed.  There was no evidence of braking or significant corrective steering prior to impact.  Mr. Alvarez was dead at the scene.

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