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DATE: May 28, 1996

INCIDENT TYPE: Personal Injury

LOCATION: District 4

TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY: Installation of New Guardrail

THE ACCIDENT: On Thursday, April 11, 1996, at approximately 3:45 p.m., a District 4 bridge crew was installing a new guardrail on the shoulder of Highway 35, south of Highway 92 in San Mateo County. An employee was using the boom of his truck to push and straighten the guardrail from the inside of the rail. As the employee attempted to position the boom , it "jumped" and pinned the employee's right hand against the boom controls on the truck. A co-worker calmed the employee, went over to the controls on the opposite side of the truck and carefully operated the controls to free the employee's hand. The employee was taken for medical attention and treated for a severe contusion of the right hand. He returned to work the following day.

CONCLUSIONS: In this particular case, the employee was using the boom to push the guardrail out of the inside of the rail. An approved chain should have been attached to the boom and used to pull from the outside of the guardrail.

Experience and reactions helped prevent a serious injury. In this case, one was avoided because of the calm demeanor and quick thinking of an experienced Caltrans Equipment Operator. Other co-workers also helped by placing ice on the injury.

Unfortunately, this accident is very similar to an accident that occurred a couple of years ago where the injury was more severe. It resulted in the amputation of a finger.

The Crane Qualification Crane Operator's Safety Tips states: Precautions shall be taken to prevent personnel from entering areas where a person could be caught between moving parts and obstructions. In addition, The Code of Safe Operating Practices, Section 2, Hazard Review and Safe Operating Procedures, Guardrail and Median Barrier Repair or Replacement Includes Vehicle Energy Attenuator Repair, Item 15, states: Stay clear of boom when under tension. Keep clear of pinch points. Do not stand between boom extension and controls.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Supervisors should ensure that all operators are trained, qualified, and familiar with the controls of the equipment being used. The appropriate Code of Safe Operating practices should be reviewed before equipment use and during a pre-job conference. Added caution is necessary when working in tight quarters. Do not use the boom to push or pull objects towards the operator's position. Use the boom remote control to allow the operator to remain clear of the operation of the boom.


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