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OHR - SAFETY ALERT MEMO 00-02

DATE: June 29, 2000

INCIDENT TYPE: Mower Accident, Serious Injury

LOCATION: District 4

TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY: Mowing

THE ACCIDENT: At approximately 2:55 p.m. on June 8, 2000, a Caltrans Maintenance Worker was mowing a sloped embankment on an overpass on Northbound Hwy 101 near Healdsburg. A tractor-type mower with side and rear mounted flail mowers was being used. The Maintenance Worker was mowing a level area on top of a sloped embankment with the rear flail mower down and the side flail mower extended over the edge of the embankment. The embankment suddenly gave way and the mower rolled down the slope, pinning the employee under the mower. The employee was extricated and transported via helicopter to a local hospital with a severely broken arm. This employee is still undergoing medical treatment for complications from the injury.

CONCLUSIONS: The mower operator was qualified and experienced and had worked in this area for several years. The tractor was equipped with a Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS). It is not known if the seat belt was being used. The overpass where the mowing was taking place had been in service for many years. It had rained recently in the area, but it was not considered enough rain to undermine the embankment.

RECOMMENDATIONS Know and be familiar with the area you are mowing or operating equipment on. If you have any doubt about the ability of the ground to support the equipment, walk the area first to check the stability. Many pieces of equipment in our fleet are equipped with Roll-Over Protective Structures (ROPS). In order for a ROPS to provide protection it is necessary to wear a seat belt. Always wear the seat belt in any vehicle or equipment – it’s there for your protection!

HEADQUARTERS OFFICE OF SAFETY AND HEALTH (916) 227-2640

Released 7/24/00

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