As the temperature gets hotter, road construction zones start popping up all over the roadways and highways. Summertime is also when more people are on the road traveling for daily sightseeing adventures and long vacation getaways. Road construction and travel increases can be a dangerous mix if safety isn't a top priority.
According to the US Department of Transportation, more than 20,000 workers are injured in road construction work zones each year. Some of the injuries are from hazards within the construction activity area and others are traffic related within the construction zone. No matter where the injuries occur, this is a huge sign that workers need to be very careful while doing road work. If you work in road construction, here are six things you can do to prevent injuries in road construction zones.
1. Know the Plan
A transportation management plan contains all the details of the road construction project. This plan includes information on how traffic will be controlled within the work zone as well as a method to manage the flow of construction vehicles, heavy equipment, and on-foot workers. Read this plan as many times as it takes for you to commit it to memory.
2. Be Seen Easily
Regular vehicles and large equipment alike have blind spots that you need to be aware of. In order to ensure you can be easily seen by passing motorists and other workers at road construction sites, you should wear highly visible clothing. The specific clothing you wear may be dictated by your employer, but it typically involves a bright fluorescent yellow or orange vest, jacket, or shirt. These clothes must also have visible reflective material on it, especially if you are working at night.
3. Wear Safety Equipment at All Times
All personnel working inside the road construction work zone should wear personal protective equipment, also known as PPE. This equipment includes steel-toed boots, hard hats, and hearing protection, if the noise level is high.
4. Be Extra Cautious at Night
Visibility is greatly reduced at dusk and throughout the darkness of night, for both motorists and road workers. While there are lights to illuminate the work site and headlines on the vehicles passing by the work zone, the glare from these lights can actually make visibility worse. Also, drivers and workers tend to be more tired at night, and when people aren't as alert as they could be, accidents happen. So be extra careful and vigilant when doing road work at night.
5. Avoid Machinery Blind Spots
There will probably be many types of vehicles and heavy equipment moving around the work site, including pavement planers, dump trucks, pavers, compactors, and rollers. If you will be operating heavy equipment, you must check all the mirrors and other visual aid devices on this equipment to ensure they are in good working order. Also verify regularly that all backup lights and alarms are working properly. If you are on foot around these machines, always remain in visual contact with the drivers. A good rule to go by is to assume that if you can't see the equipment operator/driver, then that driver can't see you, either.
6. Always Utilize Traffic Control Devices
A properly established work zone should have warning signs placed well in advance of the actual work site to allow motorists time to adjust to changes in driving conditions. A transition area should be used to control drivers during lane closures or other traffic pattern shifts. This transition area should use traffic-control devices such as signs, cones, barriers, barrels, and lights to direct the traffic as needed.
These are just six tips to help you stay safe and help you prevent injuries when working on road construction jobs. There are many other things you can do to stay safe, most of which are common sense actions, like staying hydrated while on the job and having daily safety meetings. When you put in the effort to make safety a top priority, others in the work zone will, too. For further tips or information, contact a company like Lien Transportation Co.