Innovation should be the driving force behind creation of new strategies to help reduce the nearly 600 deaths and 40,000 injuries that occur annually in roadway construction zones. That’s the central message for National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) being delivered by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) top safety expert.
The 2012 NWZAW (April 23-27) kicked-off with an April 23 national news conference at a Route 141 construction zone in St. Louis. The event, hosted by the Missouri Department of Transportation, aimed to publicly highlight the safety risks for motorists and workers associated with driving through these sites. (For photos from the kick off, click here.)
Brad Sant, ARTBA’s senior vice president of safety and education, says the transportation design and construction industry is continually employing new approaches to address safety risks in driving through these sites.
“Just last week, ARTBA renewed its innovative alliance with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and industry partners,” says Sant. “The alliance is unique in that it includes multiple federal agencies, organized labor, representation from state agencies and employer associations—all working together to ensure our workplaces are safer for all involved.”
Sant also identified a new course, “Preventing Runovers and Backovers,” developed in partnership with OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), as a first-of-its-kind program to address the problem of “struck-by” incidents in roadway construction. “For over a decade the industry has identified runovers and backovers as the primary safety concern for our workers. Now, with backing from OSHA and NIOSH, ARTBA is providing the industry with the first, comprehensive course to address the problem, and we are giving away this training and material for free,” he said.
This fall, the ARTBA Foundation-managed National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse will utilize cutting-edge technologies to deliver “Best Practices in Roadway Work Zone Safety” at the Local Transportation Asset Management Virtual Conference & Innovation Showcase. It marks the first time such a virtual event has been delivered to the desktops of tens of thousands of city and county government officials across America. The conference’s educational sessions — free of charge — provide strategies, tips and tactics aimed at helping improve safety.
Sant says innovation was also the thrust behind the recent production of a new video, “Flagger Fundamentals,” which revitalizes flagging training with information from the most recent federal and industry standards. By focusing on six steps to safe flagging operations, the interactive video (available in English and Spanish) is a learning tool for flaggers who may need to sharpen their skills and recall basic flagging operations.
Among some of the other ARTBA safety innovations during the past 30 years:
1985: Hosting the nation’s first “National Conference on Work Zone Safety,” in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration. The groundbreaking event brought together national leaders to tackle unique safety and health challenges faced in roadway construction and led to the development of a series of national and international events that continue to this day.
1998: Launching the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse. ARTBA and its operating partner, the Texas Transportation Institute, harnessed the power of the Internet early on to provide a centralized information source on “all things” safety and make it available “24/7.” The facility (www.workzonesafety.org) is now the world’s largest online safety resource; handling more than 200,000 requests annually.
1999: Creating the first-of-its-kind “Highway Worker Memorial Scholarship” to provide post high-school education to the children of highway workers killed or permanently disabled on the job. The program helped put a public face on the very personal impacts of roadway work zone fatalities and injuries. More than 100 scholarships have been given since its inception.
2002: Forming with the National Safety Council a strategic alliance to create an OSHA 10-Hour course that is focused on the transportation construction industry. In an era when generic OSHA 10-Hour classes are offered to all audiences, ARTBA recognized the need for customized training to meet the unique needs of industry workers.