A 23-year-old Hispanic utility contracting company worker died on December 30, 2003 from head injuries he received after being struck by a vehicle in a roadway work zone. He and a co-worker were cleaning mud out of a manhole so a telephone utility company could make repairs. A sport utility vehicle crashed through approximately 100-120 feet of 28-inch warning cones and into the rear end of the work crew’s trailer, which was connected to their truck. The decedent was standing near the manhole between the front of the gooseneck trailer and the back of the truck. His co-worker was in the manhole, hoisting out buckets of mud. The decedent was impacted by the front of the trailer and then thrown 20 feet along the side of the roadway. He was transported to a local hospital and was pronounced dead in the emergency room. Oklahoma Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OKFACE) investigators concluded that to prevent similar occurrences, employers should:
- Consider all applicable elements of a traffic control management program in accordance with the degree of risk to personnel in a work zone.
- Consider utilizing traffic control signs and deploying flaggers and/or traffic monitors when high-risk operations must be engaged, particularly for short periods of time when the use of barriers is not practical.
- Use a particularly high-visibility device at the beginning of road channelizing demarcation to increase the visibility of the impending hazard.
- Ensure that a competent person evaluates the site before work begins, and re-evaluates the site during the work process, in order to provide a safe work zone free of hazards to employees and the public.
- Ensure that all employees receive documented training regarding the hazards of work zone activities, such as parked vehicle positioning, positioning of employees, line-of-sight issues, and proper placement of work zone barriers and control devices.
- Develop and implement a formal occupational health and safety management system that is focused on continual improvement.