4 Safety Tips for Road Construction Job Sites & Work Zones
Safety is a fundamental concern on all construction job sites, but no place is more potentially dangerous than road construction work zones. That’s because they’re so much more unpredictable. Not only do you have to keep an eye out for your own moving equipment, you have stay alert to vehicles passing through on rerouted roadways. These safety tips will remind you how you can protect yourself while on the job.
Learn the details of your safety plan.
All job sites have a safety plan, and road construction areas have a site-specific traffic control plan. It’s your responsibility to know what those plans entail and to keep that information top-of-mind as you go about your business, especially information about which areas are designated pedestrian-free. That way you’ll always know where you can safely walk and stand, even when equipment is backing up.
Wear your high-vis gear.
Staying out of the way of moving equipment plus cars and trucks passing through is only half the battle. Every piece of equipment has blind spots, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the machines at your road construction site, to know where you’re most vulnerable. Then stay away from those areas, whether equipment is moving or parked. It also helps to maintain eye contact with the operator, if you can, so if you must be nearby, stand to the front or on the operator’s side where you’re easiest to see.
High-visibility apparel is essential any time you’re on road construction job sites. Reflective vests, etc. help make your presence more obvious to equipment operators and drivers alike. The more you can do to dress visibly, the safer you’ll be.
When the sun goes down, danger goes up.
Your safety apparel becomes even more valuable when the light starts to fade, when weather is bad or when you’re working at night. Job site lighting enables your crew to get the work done, but it also produces glare that can momentarily blind drivers. And it’s just tougher to see in the dark, especially when drivers are trying to navigate what may look like an obstacle course to them. They are not likely to be looking at you, or even looking for you.
It only takes a second to make a wrong step, and the consequences can be disastrous. Equipment operators try to keep an eye out for you, but they’re focused on the job at hand. And who knows what the other drivers are focused on. They may be confused by cones and temporary barriers, they may be listening to the radio, talking or even texting. And they may be speeding, by construction zone standards.
Between 2007 and 2012, there were 669 fatalities across the country in road construction and maintenance work zones, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 105 workers were killed at road construction sites in 2013. “Transportation incidents” were responsible for two-thirds of these fatalities – 69% of which occurred when a pedestrian worker was struck by a vehicle. You’re at risk if you’re a laborer, maintenance worker, first-line supervisor or equipment operator. In other words, if you’re on site, you could be injured or killed due to a vehicular accident.
You know your job can be dangerous. Following these safety tips will ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself when working on road construction job sites.