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DHR - SAFETY ALERT MEMO 04-04

DATE: June 23, 2004

INCIDENT TYPE: Potentially Hazardous Situation

LOCATION: District 11

TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY: Sign Repair

THE ACCIDENT: Every once in a while we all see strange things while we are driving on the Freeway. Well, imagine the startled looks on the motorist face's as they cruised up I-15 one bright sunny day and saw a Caltrans employee out in the median of the freeway doing what appeared to be some kind of a dance. Now, imagine the thought of the employee doing that dance and of what the public was thinking. There's a story behind this scenario, and a Safety story to boot. First of all, we might as well identify the said employee as a supervisor and get that out of the way. Next, we'll describe how he (it was a guy) got into the dance mode. This particular supervisor had been notified of a sign missing (not an uncommon thing), on the freeway, W/B 52 to S/B I-15. He had looked for this "missing" sign for quite some time, and finally saw it laying face down in the median of N/B I-15, how it got there is still anybody's guess. So he looped around and pulled safely into the median, exited his truck and went over to the sign to lift it up to see what it said. This is when the dance started. As he lifted up the sign, he was startled and shocked to see mice scattering in all different directions, some heading directly for him. As some of us already know, when you have little furry critters heading for your legs, you kind of forget everything else and the panic (aka Dance) mode automatically takes over. So here we have this guy out in the middle of the freeway doing this "mouse dance" momentarily oblivious to his immediate surroundings and jumping around like some crazy guy in a hop shop.

CONCLUSIONS: When things like this unexpectedly happen, and a person is in a potentially dangerous place (anywhere on the freeway qualifies) their reaction is automatic and mostly uncontrolled, and can cause them to do things they wouldn't ordinarily do, such as to fall or jump into harm's way.

RECOMMENDATIONS: The moral of the story is to be very cautious and deliberate when lifting or moving any objects (signs, guardrail posts, signposts, valve boxes plastic bags, etc.) anywhere, especially in the field, as you never know what may be under it, including rattlesnakes, spiders, bees, and yes, even mice that make you dance!

This article respectfully submitted by a member of the District 11, Unit 12 Health & Safety Committee.

 

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

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