Construction Safety and Highway Traffic

Construction work that is in close proximity to highway traffic poses real safety threats to workers and preventative measures and training is of extreme importance. Struck-by injuries and caught between are the common hazards in these situations.

Construction workers around highways and roads not only risk injury from passing motorists but also from movement within the work zone. Collision incidents are attributed largely to limited visibility around the equipment. The U.S. Department of Transportation has thorough guidance about the need for work zone signs, barricades such as cones and drums, flagging and other safety measures.

Limited visibility and blind areas are two of the biggest culprits in these situations. Blind areas are defined as those areas where the equipment operator, who is seated in the equipment cab, cannot see an object by direct line of sight or in mirrors. Three different objects are of interest: 1) the ground itself, 2) a road construction barrel, and 3) a worker.

Below are key elements of traffic control management that should be considered in exposed projects.

  • Training-All workers should be trained in how to work next to traffic in a way that minimizes their vulnerability. In addition, workers with specific traffic control responsibilities should be trained in traffic control techniques, device usage, and placement.
  • Worker Clothing-Workers exposed to traffic should be attired in bright, highly visible clothing similar to that of flaggers.
  • Barriers-Barriers should be placed along the work space depending on such factors as lateral clearance of workers from adjacent traffic, speed of traffic, duration of operations, time of day, and volume of traffic.
  • Speed Reduction-In highly vulnerable situations, consideration should be given to reducing the speed of traffic through regulatory speed zoning, funneling, use of police, lane reduction, or flaggers.
  • Special Devices-Judicious use of special warning and control devices may be helpful for certain difficult work area situations. These include rumble strips, changeable message signs, hazard identification beacons, flags, and warning lights. Flagger activated audible warning devices may be used to alert workers to the approach of erratic vehicles. misuse and overuse of special devices/techniques can greatly lessen their effectiveness.
  • Public Information-Improved driver performance may be realized through a well-prepared and complete public relations effort that covers the nature of the work, the time and duration of its execution, and its anticipated effects upon traffic and possible alternate routes and modes of travel. Such programs have been found to result in a significant drop in traffic; that reduces the possible number of conflicts and may allow a temporary lane closing for additional buffer area.
  • Road Closure-If alternate routes are available to handle detoured traffic, the road may be closed temporarily during times of greatest worker hazard-which, in addition to offering maximum worker safety, may facilitate quicker project completion and thus further reduce worker vulnerability.

For more safety information for your construction project, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.




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