Why talk about work zone traffic safety?
Year after year, construction ranks high among the most dangerous occupations. Around 773 people lost their lives in work zone crashes each year from 1982 through 2017, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Highway work zones add an even greater degree of risk due to the proximity of motorized traffic. So what can you do to minimize the risks to your workers?
Minimizing hazards to equipment operators/drivers in internal work zones, workers on foot, motorists, and pedestrians requires implementing a traffic control plan. Federal, state or local authorities determine the temporary traffic control zones for motorists and pedestrians. The internal traffic control plans within a construction/demolition worksite should be determined by the construction project manager.
Traffic Management Plans
Work Zone Traffic Management includes traffic control safety strategies and devices used to avoid crashes in work zones. By developing and implementing a plan, companies can reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that occur in the work zone. Effective work zone traffic management involves assessing how the work zone will affect traffic and nearby areas and then documenting strategies to mitigate or reduce those potential effects. One key to a successful Traffic Management Plan (TMP) is to develop it as early as possible. Work zone management strategies can be used:
- to minimize traffic delays,
- improve mobility,
- maintain or improve motorist and worker safety,
- complete road work in a timely manner,
- maintain access for businesses and residents
Traffic Control Devices include signs, signals, and message boards placed to direct motorists and pedestrians away from where work is being done or provide direction. Concrete, water, sand, and other barriers act as work zone protections to prevent motorists from crossing into construction work zones. Furthermore, traffic control devices used inside the work zone assist workers on foot and equipment operators to recognize the route they should use within the construction site.
Flagging can be especially hazardous in the proximity of high-speed traffic. Flaggers must wear high-visibility clothing with fluorescent coloring and retroreflective material. The clothing must be class 2 or 3. This ensures that the worker stands out against the background and can be seen in any direction for at least 1,000 feet. Additionally, flaggers should never stand in open traffic lanes and should always have an emergency escape route planned. Signs should be used to warn drivers that there will be flaggers ahead. Flaggers must be trained and certified according to federal and state requirements.
Inside the Work Zone
- Drivers in the work zone must use seat belts and rollover protection on all equipment and vehicles per manufacturer recommendations.
- Signal persons and equipment operators must know the hand signals used on the worksite.
- Operators and workers on foot need to know the visibility limits and blind spots for each vehicle on site.
- Workers on foot should wear high-visibility safety garments designated class 1, 2, or 3.
- All workers should be trained in hazard awareness; Recognizing and reporting potential hazards is necessary so that they can be addressed.
- Additional requirements apply when working at night.
Contact us to learn more about how we can assist with worksite hazard assessment and provide training for workers and supervisors. Our Resources page includes safety meeting content you can share with your team.