Work Zone Safety

Date: April 27, 2021

Keith Jepsen, Risk Control Consultant

Tips for Construction Companies to Improve Road Work Zones

Highway workers are exposed to dangers at road and highway construction projects from the motoring public and construction equipment such as excavators, loaders, and dump trucks. Between 2016 and 2017, there were 275 worker fatalities in work zones. Most of these fatalities are due to run-overs or back-overs by construction equipment. Work zone safety is everyone's responsibility.

Public Safety messages address motorist awareness, but what can the construction company do to further improve road work zones?  NIOSH has developed a document titled Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Worker Injuries from Vehicles and EquipmentSome of the main areas to address include:

  • Work zone planning meetings with the municipality and/or project owners as well as law enforcement.
  • Develop an internal traffic control plan (ITCP) for your job site.
  • Establish the work zone layout following the latest edition of the MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices).
  • Ensure flaggers are properly trained and certified through a professional organization such as ATSSA.
  • Promote employee awareness through regular safety meetings with the work crew, addressing work zone hazards and struck-by hazards.

Employee Training

Proper training is a key component of road safety. Employee training should address the designated travel routes at the project. The Center for Construction Research and Training provides several training materials and toolbox talks on work zone safety.

Workers must wear high-visibility PPE, including vests and hard hats. As an employer, ensure that all operators and crew on the ground have training in signaling. Vehicle drivers and equipment operators should complete their pre-shift inspection and ensure mirrors are properly adjusted, backup cameras are operational, and the horn and back-up alarms work. When developing safe backing procedures, restrict or prohibit backing if possible.  

Internal Traffic Control Plans

When creating internal traffic control plans, address topics including entrance and exit points, speed limits, staging areas, pedestrian areas, work areas. There should also be an established spotter policy and emergency procedures.

For more tips on preventing accidents in work zones, contact your BITCO Risk Control Consultant. To locate an agent near you, click the "Find an Agent" button below.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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