Who Is "At Risk" in a Work Zone?

Each year in the US, hundreds of workers are killed or seriously injured when vehicles crash through traffic control devices and enter a work zone. Workers are also struck by equipment operating within the work area. Whether it’s repairing streets, cleaning storm sewer catch basins, painting intersections, or rebuilding manholes, tasks that require workers to share the road with vehicles put them at risk.

Preventive Measures:

A traffic control plan must be developed before the work begins to guide drivers through and around work zones. The traffic control plan must include:

·         Advanced warning to drivers of the work being done ahead

·         Placement of traffic control devices to clearly mark the work zone and channel traffic through it

·         A return to normal traffic patterns as quickly, safely, and efficiently as possible

The traffic control plan must address these factors:

·         The type of roadway (number of lanes, divided or undivided highway, etc.)

·         Traffic volume and speed (approximate number of vehicles passing through and the speed of vehicles)

·         Type of work to be done and how long it will last (pothole repair, fix a broken water line, roadway line painting, etc.)

·         Type and number of traffic control devices and signs needed to make the work zone safe

Creating a buffer zone between workers and traffic is the best way to protect them. Set up detours or use barriers such as type 3 barricades or concrete barriers, which protect workers much better than cones or barrels.

Reducing the speed of traffic in work zones also provides a safer work environment for workers. Put down portable rumble strips or using a pilot car to guide traffic at reduced speeds through the work zone area.

Advanced Warning Signs should be located far enough in advance to allow vehicles to move efficiently and smoothly through work areas. They must clearly inform motorists of approaching activity and guide drivers through that activity.

All advanced warning signs must be:

·         Orange background with black lettering or symbols

·         Retro-reflective or illuminated if used after dark

·         4x4 feet if traffic moves at 45 mph or faster

·         3x3 feet if speeds are 40 mph or slower

·         7 feet above the road surface (measured to the bottom of the sign)

·         At least 1 foot above the road surface if the sign is portable

·         Less than 50% of the top two rails or not more than 33% of all rails if mounted on a barricade

Advance warning signs should be placed so as to give motorists enough time to react to the conditions they will find ahead of them. In general, the distance between the first warning sign and the work area should be increased the faster traffic is moving (Example: less than 40 mph = advanced warning sign 300 feet ahead; more than 45 mph = advanced warning sign 500 before work zone with at least 2 signs before entering work zone; add 100 feet for every 5 mph over 45 mph).

Traffic Control Devices such as cones, drums, barricades, tubular markers, and pavement markers are commonly used to alter or channel normal traffic flow. They alert drivers of work activities ahead and provide smooth and gradual traffic movement from one lane to the next. Cones, drums, and other devices must be made of lightweight materials and give way when struck by a vehicle. They must not break apart or be capable of penetrating the passenger compartment of a vehicle. The material used to weigh down devices (ballast) to prevent them from being easily blown over must also be made of materials that will cause only minimal damage to vehicles. Drums must be at least 3 feet tall and 18 inches wide, they must be orange and have 2 white alternating retro-reflective stripes. Stripes must be between 4 to 6 inches in width. The tops of the drums must be closed to prevent accumulation of debris. Steel drums are prohibited.  Barricades are of 3 types and can be portable or fixed: Type 1 must be at least 3 feet tall with one rail 2 feet in length; Type 2 must be at least 3 feet tall with 2 rails 2 feet in length; Type 3 must be at least 5 feet tall, have 3 rails at least 4 feet long. The rails on all 3 types must be between 8 and 12 inches wide. They should be equipped with warning lights and the lights should be either steady burn or flashing. The stripes on barricades must be alternating orange and white with reflective striping. The stripes should slope down at a 45-degree angle in the direction traffic is moving. Striping should be at least 4 inches wide (If the rails are more than 3 feet long the stripes should be 6 inches wide.) There should be a minimum of 270 square inches of retro-reflective tape for on-coming traffic.

Laws to Protect Workers

The US Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have issued the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). OSHA enforces the MUTCD and it is part of OSHA’s standards for the construction industry (29 CFR 1926.200, 29 CFR 1926.203). For state and local workers not covered by OSHA, the Department of Transportation requires that the standard be followed on all public roadways.

It is the municipality’s responsibility and duty to comply with these standards to protect both workers performing duties in and on roadways, as well as drivers and pedestrians using those roadways.


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Work Zone Safety According to OSHA

Traffic incidents and workers struck by vehicles or equipment account for the highest number of fatal work injuries in America according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Emergency responders, clean-up crews, utility workers, and construction workers working in areas where there are moving vehicles and traffic are exposed to being hit by a moving vehicle. Work zones are used to move traffic in an approved direction and are typically identified by signs, cones, barricades, and barriers. Municipal workers and citizens are to be protected by planning work zones (areas where construction and maintenance are being conducted) and using the proper protective and communication devices.

There must be a traffic control plan for the movement of vehicles in areas where there are workers conducting other tasks. Drivers, workers on foot, and pedestrians must be able to see and understand the routes they are to follow. The authority in charge (federal, state, or local) will determine the internal traffic control plan within the construction worksite. When there are several projects, coordinated vehicle routes and communication between contractors will reduce incidents where people are struck by a vehicle.

Standard highway signs for information, speed limits, and advanced warnings for work zones will assist drivers in identifying such directives as “do not enter”, “road/lane closed”, and “reduced speed”. Using standard highway signs for construction or maintenance work sites will assist workers in recognizing the route they are to use at the work site.

Standard traffic control devices, signals, and message boards will instruct drivers to follow a path away from where work is being done. The authority in charge will determine the approved traffic control devices such as cones, barrels, barricades or candlestick posts that will be used as part of the traffic control plan. Use these same types of devices inside the work zone.

Various styles of concrete, water, sand, collapsible barriers, crash cushions, and truck mounted attenuators should be used to limit motorist intrusions into a construction work zone.

Flaggers and others providing temporary traffic control must wear high visibility clothing with a background of fluorescent orange-red or yellow-green and retroreflective material of orange, yellow, white, silver, or yellow-green. In areas of traffic movement, this personal protective equipment (PPE) will make a worker visible for at least 1,000 feet, so the worker can be seen from any direction, and make the worker stand out from the background. Make sure to check labels or packaging to ensure the garments are performance class 2 or 3.

Drivers should be warned in advance with signs that there will be a flagger ahead. Flaggers should use STOP-SLOW paddles with reflectorized panels. The STOP side should be octagonal in shape and be red with white letters, the SLOW side should also be octagonal shaped with orange coloring and black letters.

Flagger stations should be illuminated. Lighting for workers on foot and equipment operators is to be at least 5-foot candles or greater. Where available lighting is not sufficient, flares or chemical lighting should be used. Glare affecting workers and motorists must be controlled or eliminated.

Flaggers should be trained/certified and use the signaling methods required by the authority in charge. Workers on foot, equipment operators, and drivers in internal work zones need to understand routes that construction vehicles will be using. Equipment operators and signal workers need to know the hand signals used for the work site. Operators and workers on foot need to know the visibility limits and “blind spots” for each vehicle on site. Workers need to be made aware of the ways shiftwork and nightwork may affect their performance.

Finally, seatbelts and Rollover Protections Systems must be used on equipment and vehicles in and off the work site.

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Responding to a Sanitary Sewer Overflow Call - What Do I Do?

Scenario: You are the “on-call” person for after-hours responses to sewage calls. It’s Sunday afternoon during a four-day holiday weekend when many people have overnight guests and of course they’ve enjoyed a large traditional meal.  You are dispatched to a call across town where a slow draining and gurgling toilet complaint has been called in to your municipality. You respond immediately and drive directly to the address. When you arrive, the resident tells you that for the past few days the toilet has been making gurgling sounds when it was flushed, except for the last time, when there was no gurgle and the water didn’t go down.

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July 2018 Risk and Safety Newsletter

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OMAG Remembers Mike Nunneley, Board Member, Colleague, and Dear Friend

 In Remembrance of Mike Nunneley

On May 1st, 2018, OMAG Trustee and Mannford  Administrator Mike Nunneley lost his battle with cancer. All of us at OMAG wish to share our thoughts and prayers with his family, his friends, and his colleagues at the Town of Mannford, and join in their profound sadness at the loss of Mike. As much of a genuine pleasure it has been for him to be a part of OMAG, we can only imagine the hole that his passing has left with those that had the chance to work and live with him more closely.

OMAG’s membership elected Mike to the OMAG Board of Trustees in 2016. Mike served as Administrator for the Town of Mannford, Oklahoma, since 2005. Both Mannford and OMAG enjoyed the benefit of Mike’s extensive municipal experience, from serving as Mayor of Granite (and later as their first Town Administrator), and other roles in education and finance. Mike volunteered his time to assist other communities across the State as a frequent speaker at Town Board and City Council meetings on issues of governance and management. He received numerous awards, including being named as the Oklahoma City Manager of the year in 2015. Mike was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame for City & Town officials in 2017. Mike served Mannford, OMAG, and Oklahoma with distinction and skill.

OMAG and its 376 member Municipalities will feel the loss of his skill, expertise, and counsel. We already miss his warm smile, his joy, and his servant's heart that was always focused towards those he loved: his friends, family, and the people of Oklahoma.

You will be missed, Mike.

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May 2018 - Risk and Safety Newsletter

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Dealing With Poison Ivy

The grass is growing, flowers are blooming, and creepy crawly plants are beginning their annual attempt to take control of our municipal parks and grounds around buildings. Many cities and towns hire summer labor to assist in controlling this invasion. Are these employees receiving the vital training they require to protect themselves from exposure to poison ivy? Do they know what to wear? Can your staff identify the plant? Do they know how to medically treat an exposure to poison ivy?

At first glance one might not think preventing or treating exposure to poisonous plants is that important, but contact with poison ivy can cost an employee and the employer several days of lost productivity due to time off, distraction from normal daily tasks, and medical costs. The following are some basic tips which can be used to educate your summer staff about how they can prevent injury or illness due to exposure to poison ivy.

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Knowing what poison ivy looks like is key to preventing exposure. Also important is determining how to safeguard oneself from physical exposure to the sticky resin (urushiol), which causes the irritation and blistering symptoms of contact with the plant.

Remember these characteristics to help you correctly identify poison ivy:

·         Found around lakes, creeks and streams in wooded areas

·         Small trailing shrub with a hairy rope-like vine or a freestanding shrub

·         Normally has three leaflets (groups of leaves all on the same small stem coming off a larger main stem)

·         Leaves are not consistent. Some may be smooth on the edges, while others may have lobes.

·         Generally at least one of the leaves has a pronounced lobe that sticks out like a thumb. This makes the leaf look similar to a mitten.

·         Leaves are green in the summer and red in the fall. The plant also produces small yellow or green flowers and white berries.


Upon identifying the plant prepare to deal with it without exposing yourself to the urushiol. Most cities and towns want this pesky plant removed from parks and grounds around buildings so take the necessary precautions to remove or at least control it.

1)   Wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, at least ankle high boots, and gloves. If you are planning on burning the plants (make sure to contact your local fire department for burning regulations in your region of Oklahoma) take them away from populated areas and wear a facemask. The urushiol can be carried airborne in the smoke and ash and can be inhaled, causing an exposure to the mouth and airway.

2)   After working with or in the plants, immediately remove clothing with protective disposable gloves. Wash the clothes immediately and wipe down (with alcohol and water) any tools used while working in the plants, your boots, and any materials which came in contact with the contaminated clothes and tools. Placing contaminated clothes in a hamper or leaving contaminated shoes and equipment in a place where others can touch them could cause them to contract poison ivy.

3)   Thoroughly wash the exposed areas using warm water and Dawn dish soap as soon as possible after a potential exposure. The urushiol (oil from the plant) will bond to the skin and cause irritation and blisters within 6 hours. Wash and rinse the exposed areas 3 times with the dish soap to greatly diminish or even prevent a rash or blisters. If this does not help, use traditional methods to treat the rash or, in extreme cases, see a physician.


If you did not clean up quickly enough or your skin is so sensitive that cleaning didn’t help, redness and swelling will appear within 12 to 48 hours. Blisters and itching will follow. The blisters are not contagious, nor can the fluid from them further spread the rash on the affected person’s body. Further spreading is probably due to the urushiol absorbing at different rates into the skin. However, it is recommended not to scratch the blisters because your hands could have germs on them that might cause an infection. The rash and blisters will disappear in 14 to 20 days, but most people require relief from the itching and seek some form of treatment. For mild cases, wet compresses or soaking in cool water may help. Oral antihistamines can also relieve the itching. Over-the-counter topical corticosteroids or hydrocortisone such as Cortaid or Lanacort are safe and effective ways to temporarily relieve itching. For severe cases seek counsel from a dermatologist or physician as soon as possible after exposure.

One final word of caution- Poison ivy can be contracted year-round. The resin (urushiol) does not dry up in the winter. Also, dead poison ivy may still contain the resin. Cases have been reported by researchers where rashes have occurred from exposure to plants that were in specimen jars for up to five years. Remember to train your summer staff before sending them out. It can save you and them time, money, and discomfort.

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Understanding Your OMAG Cyber Liability Coverage

As personnel in municipal offices change, replacing the knowledge and experience of the person that served your municipality can be difficult.  Understanding insurance coverage when so many other things seem to demand our attention may not be a priority. Please let the following serve to provide a basic description of the cyber liability coverage OMAG provides.  Please refer to your cyber liability and data breach response supplemental declarations page to review applicable limits. 

Information Security and Privacy Liability - Covers damages and claims expenses because of a claim for:


•    theft, loss, or unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable non-public information or third-party information that is in the care, custody, or control of the insured organization
•    one or more of the following acts or incidents that directly result from a failure of computer security to prevent a security breach

  • the alteration, corruption, destruction, deletion, or damage to data stored on computer systems
  • the failure to prevent transmission of malicious code from computer systems to computer or network systems that are not owned, operated or controlled by an insured; or
  • the participation by the insured organization’s computer systems in a denial of service attack directed against a computer or network systems that are not owned, operated or controlled by an insured

•    failure to timely disclose an incident described above in violation of any breach notice law
•    failure to comply with that part of a privacy policy that specifically:

  • prohibits or restricts the disclosure, sharing or selling of a person’s personally identifiable non-public information;
  • requires the insured organization to provide access to personally identifiable non-public information or to correct incomplete or inaccurate personally identifiable non-public information after a request is made by a person
  • mandates procedures and requirements to prevent the loss of personally identifiable non-public information

•    failure to administer (a) an identity theft prevention program or (b) an information disposal program required by regulations and guidelines

Privacy Breach Response Services - Provides privacy breach response services because of:

•    theft, loss, or unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable non-public information or third-party information that is in the care, custody, or control of the insured organization; or
•    one or more of the following acts or incidents that directly result from a failure of computer security to prevent a security breach

  • the alteration, corruption, destruction, deletion, or damage to data stored on computer systems
  • the failure to prevent transmission of malicious code from computer systems to computer or network systems that are not owned, operated or controlled by an insured; or
  • the participation by the insured organization’s computer systems in a denial of service attack directed against a computer or network systems that are not owned, operated or controlled by an insured.

Privacy breach response services include the following:
•    forensic and legal assistance from a panel of experts to help determine the extent of the breach and the steps needed to comply with applicable laws
•    notification to persons who must be notified under applicable law
•    credit and identity monitoring services to affected individuals
•    public relations and crisis management expenses

Regulatory Defense and Penalties - Covers claims expenses and penalties resulting from a claim in the form of a regulatory proceeding resulting from a violation of privacy law and caused by any of the following incidents:

•    theft, loss, or unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable non-public information or third-party information that is in the care, custody, or control of the insured organization
•    one or more of the following acts or incidents that directly result from a failure of computer security to prevent a security breach

  • the alteration, corruption, destruction, deletion, or damage to data stored on computer systems
  • the failure to prevent transmission of malicious code from computer systems to computer or network systems that are not owned, operated or controlled by an insured; or
  • the participation by the insured organization’s computer systems in a denial of service attack directed against a computer or network systems that are not owned, operated or controlled by an insured

•    failure to timely disclose an incident described above in violation of any breach notice law

Website Media Content Liability - Covers damages and claims expenses for one or more of the following acts committed during the course of the insured organization’s display of media material on its website or on social media web pages created or maintained by or on behalf of the insured organization:

•    Defamation, libel, slander, infliction of emotional distress, outrage, or other tort related to disparagement or harm to the reputation or character of any person or organization
•    Violation of the rights of privacy of an individual
•    Invasion or interference with an individual’s right of publicity
•    Plagiarism, piracy, misappropriation of ideas
•    Infringement of copyright, domain name, trademark, trade name, trade dress, logo etc
•    Improper deep-linking or framing within electronic content


PCI Fines, Expenses and Costs - Indemnifies insured for PCI Fines, expenses and costs insured becomes legally obligated to pay because of a claim

Cyber Extortion - Indemnifies the insured for certain cyber extortion loss, subject to policy conditions, as a direct result of an extortion threat 

First Party Data Protection - Indemnifies the insured for certain data protection loss incurred as a direct result of: 

•    Alteration, corruption, destruction, deletion, or damage to a data asset
•    Inability to access a data asset
that is directly caused by a failure of computer security to prevent a security breach

First Party Network Business Interruption - Indemnifies the insured for certain business interruption loss sustained during the period of restoration as a direct result of the actual and necessary interruption of computer systems caused directly by a failure of computer security to prevent a security breach

The descriptions contained in this communication are for informational purposes only. The exact coverage afforded by the product described herein is subject to and governed by the terms and conditions of each policy issued. 

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Lexipol - Police Policy Development Tools

Are you a Police Chief, or an officer responsible for developing policies for your law enforcement agency?  If so, it’s time to spring into action and take advantage of another OMAG Value Added Service. We’ve reached the two-year mark since the Title 11 policy mandate went into effect.  As of January 1, 2016, every municipal police agency has been required to have written policies which address critical safety and liability issues which officers are confronted with on a regular basis. 

The Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group has assisted our law enforcement agencies with policy development for over a decade now.  Two years ago, OMAG took policy development assistance to the next level by partnering with Lexipol. Have you considered Lexipol and just need assistance with getting started?  Are you stuck in the middle and just can’t find the time?  Your OMAG Law Enforcement Specialist can come alongside you and assist in the development and implementation of your new policy manual. 

If you would like to learn more about Lexipol, the country’s premier policy development tool for law enforcement, contact Kevin McCullough at 405-657-1408.  You can also email Kevin at kmccullough@omag.org.

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Caring for Oklahoma Municipal Cemeteries

For many, this will be the first year to honor their loved one on Memorial Day.  Ribbons, flowers, flags, balloons, and crosses decorate resting places and celebrate those held dear.  Although the decorations begin appearing the last weekend of May, preparation of the cemetery began months ago.  When family or friends visit, all they will notice is the condition of their loved one’s grave. You want to make sure that what they see is a clean, well-maintained site.

In maintaining the cemetery, the single most damaging lawn maintenance activity (to headstones) is mowing.  In addition, mowing is frequently the single largest cemetery expenditure.  It is critical that lawn mowing is done in a manner the protects the monuments, as well as the lawn.  The most serious issue is the routine removal of grass in the immediate vicinity of gravestones and tombs.  The best practice is to mow to within 12-inches of markers and finish the work using hand shears.  This approach, however, is almost universally cost prohibitive.  Another approach is the permanent removal of grass around the bases of stones.  The solution is usually discouraged since it creates an unnatural and unattractive landscape and its long-term maintenance creates additional costs and threats to the stone (especially since there will be an inclination to use weed killer as a simple solution).

The best workable solution is to use no power mower within 12-inches of the markers.  Weed whips (rotating nylon filament trimmers) may then be used – with extreme care – to finish the job up to the stone.  For these procedures to cause minimal damage, four precautions are absolutely critical:

1.      The maintenance crew must be carefully trained and closely supervised.  They must understand that the historic markers are very fragile and that the activities used on residential or commercial grounds are unacceptable for cemeteries.

2.      Only walk behind mowers should be used – riding mowers offer too little control and operators are too inclined to take chances in an effort to speed the mowing up and get on to another job.

3.      All mowers – even when used no closer than 23 inches – must have bumper guards installed to offer additional protection.  This can be achieved by using cable ties to attach closed cell foam, such as that used for the insulation of pipes, to the sides, front, and rear of all mowers.

4.      The nylon string in the trimmers must be the lightest gauge possible – no heavier than 0.09 inch.

Perhaps the best protection from mower damage, however, is the active involvement of the superintendent in the oversight of landscape maintenance operations – inspections by the superintendent should be made during and after mowing operations.

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