Construction sites come with plenty of potential hazards. Work that takes place on roads in use by the public pose their own unique set of dangers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2015, there were 136 construction worker deaths caused by accidents involving vehicles in roadway construction zones. Of these, 24 fatalities were caused by pedestrians being struck by vehicles.
Summer is a particularly busy time for road work, and it also happens to be the heaviest travel season. That means increased traffic and more drivers who are unfamiliar with their surroundings. In other words, it’s a good time to brush up on some basic tips for road construction site safety.
Safety Tips for Roadway Construction Zones
- Create an in-depth transportation management plan that addresses both traffic control and movement of your own fleet and worker vehicles
- Have a competent person on hand, as per OSHA’s definition, who can identify and address work site hazards, determine the appropriate personal protective equipment, and otherwise maximize the crew’s safety
- Everyone must wear appropriate personal protective equipment for site conditions and tasks performed, including high-visibility clothing
- Hold quick safety updates at the start of every workday and new shifts to keep the entire crew up to speed on the ever-changing site conditions and work being performed, as well as personal protective equipment needs
- Establish proper early warning zones to alert motorists traveling in both directions about upcoming construction and changes to the normal flow of traffic
- Set up transition areas between the early warning zones and the active construction site using traffic control devices to divert traffic safely and efficiently around the work site
- Install barriers to protect workers from passing traffic
- Ensure that all cones, barrels, barriers, and other traffic control devices are used in accordance with the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, as well as all applicable state, city, or municipal laws
- Make sure all flaggers who direct traffic are trained in this task
- Instate a warning system flaggers can use to alert other workers to motorists who do not follow their directions
- Create individual, clearly delineated work zones within the active construction site for specific purposes, such as materials and tools storage, heavy equipment use, parking, walking, etc.
- Always remain aware of your surroundings; stay clear of lifting or lowering loads, swing radii, vehicles or machines that may back up, blind spots, and other potential dangers
- Use spotters to direct the movement of all heavy equipment
- Check all machine mirrors, backup alarms, lights, and brakes regularly to make sure everything is properly attached and working
- Asphalt absorbs quite a lot of heat and can reach temperatures well above the atmospheric temperature; ensure that all workers stay well hydrated and have plenty of opportunity to get out of the sun and cool off
- Have all underground utilities clearly marked by the appropriate authorities
- Develop protocols for working around power lines and power sources
- Use ample lighting and reflective clothing at dusk and night
- Stay extra alert at night, as passing motorists are often tired and less alert themselves, plus headlights and the glare from site illumination can present visibility hazards