Caught By Surprise in 2017

Winning the 2017 Folio Ozzie award for the best B-to-B digital issue in October was a big surprise and a delight for me, our staff, and our company.

Several things happened last year that surprised me, I realized while reviewing our 2017 news coverage to prepare the year-end review featured in this issue. In no particular order:

  • The National Transportation Safety Board in September found Tesla's vehicle automation partly to blame for a fatal collision—the design allowed the car's driver to rely too much on the automation, and his resulting inattention was a factor in the crash, according to NTSB. (I expected this problem to be a major concern with self-driving technology, but not this soon.)
  • President Trump decided in October to declare the opioids epidemic a national public health emergency, citing the estimated 64,000 drug overdose deaths during 2016. (I hadn't foreseen how far or how fast this problem would spread.)
  • The amount of damage done in the Houston area by Hurricane Harvey astonished me. Hurricane Alicia caused street flooding in Houston when I lived there in 1983, but nothing like the destruction and widespread floods Harvey inflicted—enough to cause 885,222 individual assistance applications to be filed with FEMA as of Nov. 1 and to cause more than $200 million in crop and livestock losses alone, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The Texas request for $61 billion in expedited federal funding to repair public infrastructure damaged by Harvey and to mitigate the potential for future storm damage is an indication of the hurricane's enormous impact and a warning sign of the challenges ahead for coastal cities.
  • Winning the 2017 Folio Ozzie award for the best B-to-B digital issue in October was a big surprise and a delight for me, our staff, and our company.

What didn't surprise me? Delay or repeal of Obama administration regulations from the new administration happened as I expected. Actually, I'm a bit surprised OSHA enforcement has been as active as it has this year and that some regulations—such as the OSHA construction standard on respirable crystalline silica, which the agency began fully enforcing on Oct. 23—weren't blocked by the Trump administration and Congress.

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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