Reducing Dangers of Road Construction Work Zones

As summer road construction projects get into full swing it is important to understand how to keep construction workers and drivers safe.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of 2015, there have been 96,626 crashes in work zones.  This shows a lack of attention to safety in work zones.  In order to reduce the amount of crashes in work zones, construction managers can use extra precautions to ensure worker and driver safety.

Work Zone Crashes
Image source: ops.fhwa.dot.gov

Road Construction Organization is Key

For drivers, driving through a work zone can be incredibly different from the traffic flow they are used to.  Vague traffic instructions can lead to driver confusion and accidents.  To avoid this, it is vital for every road construction project to have a transportation management plan.  This plan will contain clear instructions on how traffic should operate in the work zone to ensure maximum safety for drivers and construction workers.  The plan should also account for how construction workers should navigate the work zone.  For example, construction projects are often have equipment coming in and out of the work zone. This transportation of equipment should have a concrete procedure to reduce potential hazards drivers.  By having a thorough transportation plan, less questions are left to be answered by drivers and construction workers.  This will lead to greater overall safety.

Controlling Traffic

In order to control traffic in a work zone, it is important to warn drivers that they are going into one.  The most effective way to warn drivers of a construction zone is in advance. Multiple, glaring work zone signs will alert drivers and naturally cause them to start slowing down.  Place these signs intermittently, for miles, before the work zone to allow drivers time to adjust to the new speed limit.  Ample warning of a work zone prepares drivers for the expected traffic changes and reduced speed limits.

Have a “Competent Person” on Site

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that a “competent person” be on site of every construction project.  OSHA describes this as someone “capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings, or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”  Having a competent person is essential to work zones because of how dynamic a work zone can be.  This person works to address any changes work zone might face and provide a plan to fix the problem.  By having a competent person on site, you prepare to face the inevitable problems it will face.

Enforce Wearing Correct Safety Equipment

Worker safety equipment is crucial for two reasons in work zones: to protect workers from their on-site hazards and to provide bright outfits to warn motorists and make them stand out.  Proper work zone equipment includes: hard hats, steel-toed boots, and highly visible clothing (reflective vests are the best option).  In particular, the highly visible clothing is vital.  Nearly half of construction worker fatalities are the result of workers being hit by a vehicle.  In order to reduce this, it is crucial for construction site managers to enforce proper attire to maintain site safety.

Workers Drinking Water

Keep Construction Workers Hydrated

For a construction worker, wearing bulky clothing, operating heavy equipment, and being outside in the elements can be a dangerous combination.  The summer months are the harshest.  Construction workers can experience temperatures that be 30°F higher than the surrounding temperatures due to asphalt collecting heat.  Too much heat can quickly result in heat exhaustion which involves: muscle cramps, vomiting, and dizziness.  Unchecked, workers with heat exhaustion could injure themselves or others by accident.  It is important to have designated break times for workers.  Breaks should contain water or sports drinks, such as Gatorade, to replenish workers.  Break times will result in safer and happier workers who will be noticeably rejuvenated during their working hours.

For drivers and construction workers, work sites can be an incredibly dangerous environment.  For this reason, it is vital for construction site managers to make changes to ensure safety is a chief concern in their work zones.

Original source: constructconnect