DATE: February 24,
INCIDENT TYPE: Serious
TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY:
THE ACCIDENT: On the
morning of January 26, 2004, two Maintenance Workers were repairing
highway delineation. They were at their second location of the day and
were approximately one hour into the job. The ground was very hard.
One employee used a sledgehammer to hit a digging spade tip to penetrate
the ground and make a pilot hole for the delineation. This was the third
post at this location in which he had used this method. Upon his final
hit, a piece of the sledgehammer (approximately 1/2" by 1/4") was projected
into the employee's right shin area. He limped over to his co-worker,
who was about 15 feet away. The co-worker noticed that a great deal
of blood was coming from the area. He told the employee to lay down
and then placed a sweater over the wound to halt the bleeding. He then
notified his supervisor and the employee was taken for medical attention.
Because of the delicate nature of the wound (the piece of sledgehammer
was lodged between an artery and a muscle) and the potential for infection,
the employee had to be taken to another hospital for surgery later that
afternoon. He had the piece removed and has been off work since the
date of the injury.
CONCLUSIONS: The Code
of Safe Operating Practices (COSP) for ROADSIDE MARKER REPAIR OR
REPLACEMENT, number six states: "Use proper tool when removing
or installing posts." The proper tool is not defined. The method
used in this case was a sledgehammer to a hardened metal bit for a pavement
breaker. Most sledgehammers are sold with the cautionary statement "
. . . never strike with or against another hardened tool. Striking hard
surfaces can cause chipping, possibly resulting in bodily injury. Discard
immediately if chipping or cracking occurs . . . " Further inspection
of the sledgehammer indicated that it was very worn and in need of replacement.
Jack hammers or hand augers are an option. Prior to the use of any hand
tool the user should inspect it for any cracks, chips, or imperfections.
- Supervisors should use
the Safety Inspection Process (See Chapter 3 of the Caltrans Injury
& Illness Prevention Program for specifics) to regularly inspect hand
tools, power tools, work areas, etc.
- Insure that employees
are up to date with First Aid training. Fortunately in this case the
co-worker knew how to stop the bleeding until medical aid could be