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 to help workers protect themselves in work 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
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 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 working in high traffic volume hours. Whenever possible, work during low traffic conditions.
- 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.
- Shield boom lifts and lift trucks from impact by oncoming motorists.
- 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 that you’re 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 him.
- Create out-of-bounds areas that are off limits to employees due to the traffic hazard.
- Ensure that backup 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.
Follow these tips, and do all you can to ensure your safety and the safety of your co-workers.