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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
APR 27, 2021
Staying Safe on Road Construction Sites
National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is celebrating its 21
year of promoting safety for both workers and drivers in road construction locations. The national kickoff this year will be hosted by the Michigan Department of Transportation. from April 26 – 30. The theme is “Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.”
As part of NWZAW, everyone is encouraged to participate in “Go Orange Day” on Wednesday, April 28, and encouraged to wear orange as a visual reminder to others about work zones.
Road Construction can be Deadly
Why the need to have a special week dedicated to work zone safety? Data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries found that fatalities for workers on roadway construction sites were caused by the following:
Transportation-related incidents — 74 percent
Struck by objects or equipment — 7.2 percent
Other — 6.1 percent
Falls, slips, trips — 5.1 percent
Electrocutions — 4.9 percent
Caught in/between objects or equipment — 2 percent
The vast majority of these fatalities were caused when the worker was struck by a vehicle or mobile equipment at the site. Trucks, including dump trucks, pickup trucks and tractor trailers, accounted for more than half of these fatalities (54 percent), followed by automobiles (28 percent), and construction equipment (11 percent).
Keeping Road Construction Crews Safe
To help keep your workers safe when they are at an active roadway construction site, follow these recommendations:
Develop a transportation management plan
Like any effective project management process, planning is crucial before anyone goes near the construction site. For active road construction sites, this plan is called a transportation management plan which includes the following components:
A temporary traffic control plan that addresses how to safely route traffic around or through the work zone, and also addresses the flow of heavy equipment, construction vehicles, and workers inside the work zone
Public information and outreach
Every work zone should have an alert process that advises motorists that a construction work zone is approaching and then provides a series of staging areas before the motorist reaches the work zone, including:
A transition area using traffic control devices for lane closures and traffic pattern shifts
A buffer area
The work area
A termination area to allow traffic to return to normal with a sign indicating the work zone has ended.
All traffic control devices such as cones, barrels, barriers and signs, should comply with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
s (NHTSA) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices along with any state agency requirements. The NHTSA Manual can be found
Include an OSHA-defined “Competent Person” on the Jobsite
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) definition, a competent person is 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.” Anytime work is underway, a competent person should be on location to conduct ongoing hazard assessments and perform regular inspections of the worksite.
The competent person will also select the appropriate types of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used by workers and can approve the appropriate types of traffic control devices required at the worksite. Workers should report any unsafe hazards or equipment to the competent person assigned to the work zone.
Develop a Site-Specific Safety Program
Because each worksite is unique, another way to improve worker safety is to develop a site-specific safety program. The competent person has identified all of the risks associated with the job and developed a mitigation plan as well as contingency plans in the event of an accident. This way, safety training can be specific to the jobsite and help each employee learn about the hazards they will face day-to-day. With this in mind, local site leaders can also conduct daily safety meetings that discuss the work to be done that day as well as any corresponding risks and mitigation strategies.
Use Spotters and Commonly Communication Signals
When loading and unloading equipment from vehicles, spotters can help employees whose backs are to the vehicle to know what is happening. Spotters need to know where to stand safely and how to use commonly understood gestures to communicate with vehicle operators. Each team member should also understand and use the same communication signals. Whether loading or unloading equipment, entering or exiting the worksite, best practices state you should always communicate with the workers around you to ensure everyone
s mutual safety. Always make sure the operator of a vehicle or piece of machinery sees you before you approach by making eye contact with the driver. As a vehicle operator, make eye contact with all workers in the vicinity before moving the equipment.
Wear Appropriate PPE and High-visibility Clothing
Proper safety equipment should be worn by everyone inside the work zone. PPE includes hard hats, steel-toed boots, highly visible clothing and, depending on the noise levels, hearing protection. All PPE should meet or exceed the American National Standards Institute
s (ANSI) developed standards.
All highly visible clothing such as vests, jackets or shirts should be bright fluorescent orange or lime/yellow and have visible reflective material, especially if working at night. This clothing should meet ANSI Class 2 or 3 standards.
Keeping the site safe by having a plan that everyone understands, and by being alert to all of the potential hazards, will be a giant leap forward in ensuring all workers are safe. During National Work Zone Awareness Week, take the opportunity to restate your safety commitment to your employees and remind them of the specific hazards they may face at their jobsite.