Road construction zones are among the most hazardous types of work sites in America. In 2015 alone, there were 130 worker fatalities at these locations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In light of this ever-present danger, there are many workplace safety strategies construction companies can adopt to protect their employees from harm.
5 Road Construction Zone Safety Tips
From traffic pattern changes to equipment parked near traffic, a road construction work area can be a challenging situation for drivers and construction laborers alike. But, if you map out a safety plan and implement it correctly, you can build a more secure environment for everyone involved.
1) Create a Traffic Control Plan
The first order of business is to create a traffic control plan that allows for the smooth movement of vehicles in the vicinity of construction. This temporary plan should have these five distinct parts:
- An advanced warning area that alerts motorists about what to expect.
- A transition area that uses traffic control devices to facilitate lane closures and traffic pattern shifts.
- A buffer area.
- The designated work area.
- A termination area where a sign alerts drivers that traffic is returning to normal.
Whether it is federal, state or local police, the authority in charge will also likely be there to help you configure the flow of traffic.
2) Set up Traffic Control Devices
Safety items like cones and barriers are an effective way to separate sections of a work zone from motor vehicles. Traffic control devices may also be used to designate temporary traffic paths. The authority in charge will ultimately determine which traffic control devices are used inside and outside the work zone. If your construction zone is large, it may also need safety signage, such as those that urge drivers to reduce their speed.
3) Use Flaggers
If you decide to use flaggers, these workers should also take safety precautions. Flaggers typically wear high-visibility clothing in colors like fluorescent orange-red or yellow-green. These reflective vests and other wearable safety items can make your employees visible from 1,000 feet in any direction.
4) Light the Site at Night
A dark road work zone is a dangerous work zone. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that lighting for these types of night construction sites should be at least five-foot candles or greater. “Where available lighting is not sufficient, flares or chemical lighting should be used,” OSHA stated. “Glare affecting workers and motorists should be controlled or eliminated.”
5) Train all Employees
You will also want to train your employees how to work safely in areas close to traffic. For example, your flaggers must be trained to use the signaling methods required by the local, state or federal authorities in charge. Additionally, workers on foot, equipment operators and drivers in internal work zones should be apprised of the approved routes to follow.
Before construction begins, everyone should work together to identify blind spots for each vehicle on the site. You should also alert all your employees of the agreed-upon hand signals to be used by the crew. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, remind your workers to wear high-visibility safety garments at all times.
These five tips provide a basic framework any company working in a road construction zone may use to stay safe, even in dangerous situations.