Every day, highway, heavy and utility construction workers are exposed to traffic hazards as part of their daily work routine. Some of the hazards include moving construction vehicles, noise from motors and vehicles, limited visibility, night work and limited lighting, close proximity to traffic, inclement weather and slips, trips and falls.
Although work zone hazards vary, and there are no “one size fits all” procedures, here are a few tips that can be followed to help workers protect themselves in works zones.
When working in traffic, be sure to wear the required personal protective equipment such as:
- Reflective, high-visibility vests or clothing
- Hard hats
- Eye protection
- Protective footwear
- Hearing protection
To help the motorist while protecting construction workers:
- Have a traffic control plan and periodically review it to see if it needs to be changed. Set the work zone to avoid unclear lane markings and lane confusion.
- Use flaggers who have been trained to use standard traffic control devices and signals. Be sure the flaggers are readily visible to traffic.
- Observe traffic conditions to determine the volume condition of the work zone.
- Avoid standing or parking in places that block road signage.
- Remove construction debris that can become a hazard for motorists as well as construction workers.
- Remove worn, old, non-reflective traffic control devices from service.
- Strategically use vehicles and equipment as barriers between traffic and workers when other positive protections are not available.
- Use appropriate and sufficient lighting for night work areas.
Other tips to help keep the work zone safe include:
- Avoid complacency on the job.
- Get plenty of rest, so you will be alert while working.
- Be sure all underground and overhead utilities are located and marked.
- Minimize the amount of time employees need to be exposed to traffic. Get in, get done and get out.
- Limit the amount of personnel and equipment in the work zone to only those that are necessary for the job at hand.
- Do not assume that equipment operators can see you. Make eye contact with the operator before crossing in front of or behind them.
- Create out of bounds areas that are off limits to employees due to the traffic hazard.
- Ensure that back up alarms on vehicles are functioning properly.
- Do not run through moving traffic or machines.
- Provide an emergency egress/escape route in case of emergency, and make sure employees know what it is.
- Stay hydrated. Construction workers are susceptible to overexertion and heat-related illnesses. Drink plenty of water or liquids high in electrolytes like sports drinks or coconut water.
Follow these tips, and do all you can to ensure your safety and the safety of your co-workers.