Protecting Road Workers on the Job

construction safety

Spring and Summer are the peak times of year for construction and outdoor maintenance activities. Construction workers regularly engage in work that presents a range of hazards, such as falls, unguarded machinery, and being struck by heavy construction equipment (OSHA).

Work zones near the road can expose workers to high traffic areas, where they can be struck by passing drivers. The most recent data from 2014 reveals that drivers account for 82% of highway and road work zone fatalities (FHA, 4/11/2016). Driving distractions, reckless driving, and other factors can increase the risk of injuring a road worker.

Each person that encounters a highway work zone must stay alert and distraction-free to assure the safety of road workers.

Tips for Drivers:

• Follow traffic control devices. This includes signals and message boards that are used to direct traffic away from work sites. Cones, barricades, and barrels are also used to demarcate areas of work
• Do not speed. Always obey the posted speed limit, which can vary if a stretch of road is marked as a construction zone
• Expect delays and be patient
• Be alert and anticipate lane shifts and merging
• Avoid using phones and any other devices or activities that will cause distraction
• Allow a safe traveling distance between you and the vehicle in front of you

Employer Best Practices:

Provide correct PPE: Hard hats and high-visibility reflective clothing, can help keep employees safe (and much more visible to drivers). Reflective clothing should be ANSI approved and either class II or III depending on the situation

Use reliable communication devices between flaggers and construction crews (such as two-way radios) to assist in directing traffic and as a means of communication

Lighting: Flagger stations must be illuminated, and the amount of lighting should be based on the work being done. Outdoor lights can be used to provide at least 10-20 foot-candles of light, based on work requirements and the Traffic Control Plan.

Make time for safety: Take breaks to discuss safety procedures. Regularly reevaluate and update policies and procedures as required or needed.

Succeed Management Solutions, LLC offers a Work Zone Traffic Control Plan, a Traffic Control policy, Flagger Safety, and a Construction Safe Practices toolbox safety document series. There are also safety videos available on Personal Protective Equipment in Construction Environments, First Aid in Construction Environments, Heat Stress in Construction Environments, and more in both English and Spanish.