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DATE: December 31, 2005

INCIDENT TYPE: Employee Injury, Vehicle Accident

LOCATION: District 5


THE ACCIDENT: On Saturday night, December 31, 2005 at approximately 10:15 P.M. a Caltrans Highway Maintenance Worker was seriously injured and a CHP Lieutenant was killed in a traffic collision on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Caltrans employee had been dispatched to assist the CHP with traffic control at the scene of an earlier accident. He positioned his cone truck out of the lane on the right shoulder and activated his FAS. The Caltrans employee is believed to have walked to the front of the truck to speak to the CHP officer. A vehicle traveling southbound slid out of control and struck the rear of the CT vehicle. The CHP Officer and the driver of the errant vehicle were killed. The Caltrans cone truck was pushed forward and struck the Caltrans employee. He was knocked off his feet and into the number 2 lane of traffic and sustained injuries to his abdomen and left knee. The employee was hospitalized following the incident but has been released. The incident is under investigation.

CONCLUSIONS: This incident clearly illustrates the importance of positioning your vehicles so as to provide the maximum physical protection from upstream traffic. We must also remember that when vehicles are struck at highway speeds they will roll forward, even if the parking brakes have been set.

RECOMMENDATIONS: : Facing traffic is the most important thing workers can do to protect themselves and their co-workers while working on or near the traveled way. Facing traffic gives workers a better opportunity to see and hear errant vehicles. This allows them a chance to move out of the way and warn fellow workers. Before a vehicle is parked, consider if the vehicle will be needed to perform the work. If not, the vehicle should be used for physical protection from moving traffic. It should be carefully positioned so that it will intercept errant vehicles, but will not roll ahead into the work area. When parking the vehicle, the front should be pointed away from traffic and the wheels turned away from the work zone and traffic. Whenever possible, a vehicle should be entered and exited on the side away from traffic to reduce worker exposure. If possible, do not stand or work near the back of parked vehicles. Also, do not work directly in front of parked vehicles. Leave a "buffer space" between yourself and the vehicle in case the vehicle is hit and pushed forward.



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