Posts tagged with "Safe?"

New USPS delivery vehicle with more headroom, safety features, and AC coming in 2023

Febraury 25, 2021

Few things have changed less during the course of this century than this nation’s fleet of postal delivery vehicles.

The familiar squat, box-like vans—produced from 1987 through 1994, and in service ever since— have a steering wheel on the right, to make it easier for drivers to reach out and put mail in curbside mail boxes. They have few creature comforts—certainly not air conditioning.

Overall, they were designed to be rugged, not flashy. They have lived up to their name, the Grumman LLV, for long lasting vehicle.

Indeed, says CNN, this ubiquitous fleet of 200,000 vehicles has been around longer than such common features of modern life as smartphones, online shopping, social media, streaming services, or Google. About 70% of them are between 25 and 32 years old.

But their days are finally numbered. A contract with Oshkosh Defense, a unit of Oshkosh Corp. Under the contract between 50,000 and 165,000 new postal trucks will be produced over a period of ten years. Oshkosh initially will receive $482 million to initiate engineering efforts to finalize the production vehicle design, and for tooling and factory build-out activities that are necessary prior to vehicle production.

The amount of the contract to actually purchase the production version of the vehicles has not yet been set—but it will almost certainly be a multi-billion dollar deal.

As for the design of the new van, it has a low engine compartment and hood; and a very high windshield. It looks like a duck’s head, complete with bill. The back is tall enough for a letter carrier to stand in.

It also has safety features missing from many of the current vehicles, including — believe it or not — airbags, which are standard features in virtually all motor vehicles today.

They also will have back-up cameras, front collision warnings, automatic front and rear braking, blind spot detectors and, to the relief at last of letter carriers come summer, air conditioning.

And, according to CNN, the vehicles will have more cargo space than current vehicles—enabling USPS to deliver more packages, a growing and profitable part of its business, rather than traditional letters, a segment that’s shrinking.

Many but not all of the Next Generation Delivery Vehicles(NGDVs) will be electric vehicles. With electric vehicle changing at a fast pace and the vehicles designed to last decades, the contract calls for the electric versions to able to be retrofitted to keep pace with advances.

The rest will be what the USPS says will be high efficiency traditional gasoline engines. The precise mix between EVs and internal combustion engines has not been set. But the mix has already elicited criticism from environmentalists.

“The USPS NGDVs should be electrified as a matter of urgency,” Robbie Diamond, president of Securing America’s Future Energy, or SAFE, told CNN. “This contract is a golden opportunity to stimulate the domestic EV market and supply chain, and a commitment to electrifying the NGDV would provide a clear incentive for further domestic EV industry development.”

The vehicles have also been in the works for years. USPS has been working on the project with potential suppliers since 2016.

Research contact: @CNN

Exercise caution: Gyms and coronavirus

March 10, 2020

Is it healthy to visit a health club right now? The spread of the coronavirus could make even the most ardent gym rats stress out about picking up barbells, using equipment and mats, or even just taking a crowded class where everyone is huffing and puffing.

There’s a lower risk of picking up the coronavirus at a gym or health club than at a church service, for example Dr. David Thomas, a professor of medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine., told The New York Times this week. By comparison, church services may include shaking hands and being in closer proximity to people.

But if you’re in a community where there have been cases of the coronavirus, “that’s, perhaps, a time to be more cautious with all types of exposures, including a gym,” Dr. Thomas advised the news outlet.

Sweat cannot transmit the virus but high-contact surfaces, such as free weights, can pose a problem, he said.

Scientists are still figuring out how the virus exactly spreads but have provided some guidance on how it seems to be transmitted. A study of other coronaviruses published in The Journal of Hospital Infection found they remained on metal, glass and plastic for anywhere from two hours to nine days.

Certain objects, like handles and doorknobs, are “disproportionally affected by hands, and those are the surfaces most likely to have viruses for that reason,” Dr. Thomas said.

The owner of a yoga studio in Washington State, where several coronavirus patients have died, according to The Yoga Journal, “says she’s seen a direct impact from all the hysteria in the area on both attendance and business.”

Equinox, the luxury fitness club brand, has sent notices to members, reassuring them that additional steps are being taken during the peak flu season and amid growing concerns about the coronavirus, the Times reports.

The additional steps include disinfecting all club areas with a hospital-grade solution three times a day, reminding people to stay home if they are sick and asking instructors to eliminate skin-to-skin contact, like hands-on adjustments during yoga, a spokesperson told the newspaper.

Brian Cooper, chief executive of YogaWorks, sent an email to the company’s clients, reassuring them that it was stepping up its cleaning processes “to keep our facilities a safe and welcoming environment for all students and staff.”

David Carney, president of Orangetheory Fitness, listed precautions in an email on Thursday. “Wipe down your equipment after every block, and don’t hesitate to request a new wipe whenever you need to,” he wrote.

But do you actually know what’s in those nondescript spray bottle at gyms that you’re supposed to use to wipe down your machine, mat and equipment? If you’re not sure, ask staff members what’s in the bottle or take your own wipes to the gym.

“I’ll probably bring my own wipes,” Dr. Thomas told the Times of his gym trip planned for later that day. “I’ll know that they’re the right wipes and they have the right concentration of alcohol.”

Diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and several common household disinfectants should be effective against the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Environmental Protection Agency released a list of disinfectants against the virus.

Most important: If you’re feeling sick, stay home. “This is mostly about how you keep from getting sick at a gym, but please don’t go to the gym if you feel sick,” Dr. Thomas said. “Don’t give it to other people.”

Research contact: @nytimes