Millions of Americans use highways every day. With overuse, weather, age, and other factors wearing down the infrastructure, many states look to construction projects to keep the roads safe.
Unfortunately, road construction work is a dangerous job. Many construction projects operate round the clock, even in adverse conditions or with vehicles nearby traveling at highway speeds. This puts construction workers at risk of injury and death. However, a safety management plan can be implemented to reduce the chances of a workplace accident.
In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that there were 247 worker deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents. Although many construction projects design traffic control plans to alert motorists of changes, an internal site plan is also needed. More workers are killed by construction vehicles within the jobsite than by other drivers outside of the site.
Construction vehicles are often massive, with large blind spots. Monitoring where and when they travel within the site is very important. Traffic control plans should manage the flow of heavy equipment, vehicles, and should be specific to the worksite itself. Other safety plans are also needed. Proper lighting is necessary, as well as equipment inspections and emergency response strategies. Work areas should be clear of obstructions and hazards. Weather conditions should always be considered.
A site-specific plan should:
- Identify hazards in the area, like power lines, especially ones that are specific to that day, such as slippery or icy conditions.
- Have first-aid and emergency response plans available.
- Schedule safety training classes for all employees.
- Schedule equipment inspections throughout the project.
Internal site plans should be evolving and changed when necessary, but more importantly, they should be communicated with the entire crew. Safety objectives should be understood every morning, especially since each day may bring different challenges. Safety plans should be prioritized and implemented in every crew’s routine.
Control Traffic Flow
Perhaps the biggest concern of any construction worksite is oncoming traffic. Warning drivers in advance of any roadway changes can help minimize accident risks, which should give drivers enough time to reduce their speed and stay alert.
To help with traffic flow, a buffer area is needed to separate workers and traffic, created with plenty of lighting, barricades, and traffic cones. Traffic should be redirected in order for traffic to bypass workers and their equipment, and work zones should be clearly marked for both drivers and workers.
Wear Protective Clothing
It is important that proper safety equipment is worn by any personnel within the worksite. Personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by workers should meet or exceed the American National Standards Institute’s standards. This may include hard hats, steel-toed boots, and hearing or eye protection. Highly-visible clothing is a must and should be bright fluorescent orange or yellow with reflective material.
Every crew should have a safety coordinator to ensure compliance among the workers using PPE. Wearing PPE should be part of safety protocols, and those who do not comply should be held accountable.
Workers in highway construction zones need to be mentally and physically able to remain alert while focusing on the job at hand. One of the many unspoken dangers of construction work is worker fatigue and exhaustion. With labor intensive jobs like road construction work, fatigue is often overlooked, putting many in danger. It is important to be aware of your own physical ability and well-being and recognize when a break or rest is needed.
Request Police Help
A helpful way to keep construction zones safe is to enlist the help of police officers. Many states have implemented programs that have police officers and their vehicles with their lights on in construction zones. They found that the flashing lights causes passing drivers to slow down.
There are many dangers to be aware of when in a road construction zone, but blind spots are a big threat. Numerous vehicles and equipment can create a blind spot, increasing the risk of an accident. Work areas should be well-equipped with mirrors, visual aids, signs, and backup alarms, especially for workers who operate large construction vehicles. Workers need to maintain visual contact with each other, especially operators of vehicles.
Distracted and Reckless Driving
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents. Unfortunately, distractions are a main cause of fatal accidents in work zones. According to a Traffic Safety Culture Index survey, about 84 percent of the drivers reported seeing other drivers texting while driving. Over 44 percent of drivers said they themselves have texted or read their phones while driving. Fortunately, many states are working on legislation and laws prohibiting texting and cellphone usage while driving. Repercussions have also increased, especially for those that violate the law while driving in a work zone.
Wilmington Construction Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Injured Road Workers
Working in a road construction zone is a dangerous job, where workers are constantly at risk for injury or death. If you have been injured on the job, contact our Wilmington construction injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Call us at (302) 427-9500 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. We have offices in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, and Lewes, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.