Originally published May 9, 2017
According to one report, nighttime construction work is almost 2 ½ times more dangerous than daytime construction work.
Some reasons this work is more dangerous include: operators and motorists find it difficult to see beyond the glare of headlights or work zone lights; motorists and workers are more likely to be fatigued and drowsy; a higher percentage of motorists may be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and work zone lane changes can catch motorists by surprise. Add it all up and it’s easy to see why nighttime work is more dangerous.
However, working at night is here to stay. Lane closures for roadway construction or repair can be accomplished with less disruption to the traveling public by doing the work during off peak (nighttime) hours. So what can we do to help ensure our safety when we are working at night?
While Off The Job – Make Sleep a Priority
- An hour or so before you want to go to sleep, take a warm shower or bath to relax.
- Lower the temperature in your bedroom (a cool environment improves sleep).
- Darken your bedroom by pulling shades.
- Avoid caffeine several hours before you want to go to sleep.
- Don’t activate your brain several hours before you want to go to sleep.
- Wear earplugs if daytime noise keeps you awake.
- Turn on a “white noise” machine, like a fan, to give a gentle background noise.
- Develop a regular sleeping schedule.
While On The Job
- All construction crew members should wear high-visibility clothing. Flaggers in particular, should wear safety vests that are labeled as meeting the American National Standards Institute standard performance for Class 3 risk exposure safety vest, with “retro-reflective” striping.
- Take short breaks when you feel yourself becoming tired.
- Use the buddy system – try working close to a co-worker for conversation and help in recognizing when you’re getting drowsy.
- If you find yourself fighting to stay awake, let a supervisor know and take a short break. A short break could prevent a serious accident.
We don’t recommend using sleeping pills or alcohol to go to sleep. They might help for a day or two, but not long-term. We also don’t recommend drinking lots of highly-caffeinated drinks, because the short-term energy burst they give is followed by a deeper sense of fatigue a short time later.
Consider these safety tips when working at night. The life you save may be your own.