Warren’s Words of Wisdom: OSHA’s Fatal Four

warren_words_wisdom_LogoOSHA’s Fatal Four


Public Works folks are so valuable because they are known to be jacks-of-all-trades; driving a dump, operating a chainsaw, digging holes, filling the holes they just dug, chipping tree branches, running a front-end loader, spreading sand, welding are just a few of the fun and snappy jobs which they do daily. So, just based on being like Jack, PW’s have multiple opportunities to make one or more of the Fatal Four a reality every day on every job.

The OSHA FATAL FOUR could also have the title PUBLIC WORKS FATAL FOUR.www.8.2020.1

Of these four, which one has happened to you the most? Probably the Falls, right? You wouldn’t get many second chances if you were electrocuted! The others could be close calls and you’d still be alive, maybe with life-altering injuries, but still alive.

PW’s are typically very good with recognizing when a situation is “gut feeling” not right. Trust your gut, take a step back, give the job or situation a long look, talk it over with your co-worker; if you’d don’t feel comfortable with the job, stop. There is scientific proof the reason you’re having the “gut feeling” is that your subconscious is processing what’s happening faster than another part of your brain, causing a mental imbalance, sending signals saying something’s not right, you just haven’t been able to verbalize it yet. Trust the gut! Note: Size of gut does not play a roll…Get it?…Roll?

www.8.2020.2This is my right ankle after slipping on ice during a storm in NH. I should have had on ice grippers, like Yaktrax. It wasn’t fatal, but I will forever be packing the screws and plates from one little slip and fall. Worse, my dream of winning “Dancing with the Stars” was crushed, maybe my delusion is a better word.

Terrible numbers on this chart about Work Zones.www.8.2020.3

The above is an adaption from the article, “Annual National Work Zone Awareness Week.” For more information, please visit www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov.

Daily, I receive a utility safety report on incidents over the previous 24 hours. Every week there are multiple distracted/impaired/elderly drivers entering a work zone, even with Police present. Luckily there have been no serious injuries to anyone, so far, but pulling a car out of an open 4 foot deep trench cut in the road can really mess up a transmission/oil pan. In my book, work zones are the absolute most dangerous things PW’s are exposed to. CTDOT holds contractors and tree people to high standards when working on a public roadway for signage, traffic control devices (cones) and flaggers doing their job. Just because PW’s are the “A Team” doesn’t mean your work zone should be any less well done than the contractors. Those signs and cones are out as a warning to drivers that there are workers ahead in the road and to SLOW DOWN!!

Everyone who’s worked on the road has scary stories about close calls. I would find crews who had gotten a little lazy and set all the cones and signs way too close to the job—meaning drivers, even the sober and alert ones, came up to the work zone with very little warning, especially over hills or around corners, and had little time to react. If your work zone’s cause screeching tires, locked-up brakes and people yelling compliments about how well you look, I would spend time expanding your work zone before someone gets hurt.

Ever been tempted to do this?


Stay safe my friends!

About Connecticut T2 Center

The Training & Technical Assistance Center at UCONN provides education and technical assistance to members of Connecticut's Transportation and Public Safety Community, including municipal public works directors, street and road maintenance superintendents and staff, city and town engineers, Connecticut Department of Transportation employees, transportation planners and law enforcement professionals serving as legal traffic authorities. We are Connecticut's LTAP Center
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