Work Zone Precautions for Safer Road Construction
When you live in Texas, two things are abundantly clear:
- Traffic is everywhere.
- So is construction.
Unfortunately, the combination of these two events creates an extremely dangerous situation for those forced to work and drive in the overlapping “danger zones.” In 2014, nearly 700 people died in work zones, while thousands more were injured, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Although 85% of 2014’s fatalities were driver or passenger-related, the average number of fatal work-related injuries at road construction sites average 115 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics furthers these findings by suggesting that over a ten year period (2003–2013), Texas ranked the highest out of all 50 states for enduring the most worker deaths at roadside construction sites.
Work Zone Risks
The risks of combining construction, fast-moving vehicles, heavy machinery, and distracted drivers, and construction workers intent upon their jobs may be abundantly clear. However, workers and drivers alike still fail to adjust their actions to prevent such risks. Therefore, we feel compelled to give you a quick overview of the most common work zone hazards in an attempt to raise awareness.
Roadside workers face the following risks everyday:
- Runover and backover injuries. An astonishing 48 percent of worker fatalities occur as a result of vehicles or mobile equipment backing up or running over workers.
- Collisions. The second highest risk for workers is a collision. An average 14 percent of worker deaths are caused by impact force from equipment or other vehicle collisions.
- Compression and crush injuries. The third most common cause of work zone fatalities occurs when workers are caught or crushed between two objects—most commonly vehicles and construction equipment.
Work Zone Awareness and Safety
In an attempt to raise awareness and protect vulnerable roadside workers, every year, an entire week is nationally recognized as the “National Work Zone Awareness Week.” During this week, safety administrations, legislators, and workers promote ideas for how to make roadside construction and work zones safer.
In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed the “Move Over or Slow Down” law in response to this increased awareness. The law requires that when a driver approaches a work zone, he must make every attempt to either move to the other lane or slow down to 20 miles per hour until he safely passes the work area.
How can drivers tell if they are near work zones? Construction workers are required to announce their presence by:
- Erecting “Reduce Speed” signs.
- Laying out large orange cones and flags.
- Making themselves visible by wearing bright orange vests.
Unfortunately, workers can only do so much to make themselves known. That’s why they rely heavily on drivers to pay attention, follow construction zone rules, and drive with concern for those around them.
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