Approximately 32 out of every 100,000 construction workers are killed in the work zone, making roadway construction workers three times more likely to be killed on the job in comparison to other construction workers, according to a recent report from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
National Work Zone Awareness Week, held April 4-10 this year, is an effort to help reduce the number of deaths and increase awareness of roadway construction zones. ARTBA’s findings were released in conjunction with the week’s events, which included a speech by Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters at a roadway construction zone in Springfield, Va., April 6. Peters emphasized the great risk of death and injury faced by workers on the nation’s highways. Approximately 1,200 people, both drivers and workers, were killed in roadway construction zones in 2002.
“Construction workers must do their jobs next to roadways — in many cases with vehicles traveling at 60 mph or faster,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive of the Associated General Contractors. “Our goal is to make motorists aware that they are an important part of reducing accidents, injuries and deaths in work zones.”
Construction organizations are devising ways to increase the safety awareness of workers. ARTBA, through a grant from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and a partnership with CNA Insurance and the National Safety Council, is providing free four-hour training seminars in states with high accident and injury rates in work zones. The seminars are aimed at educating workers about the hazards they face on the job. Seminars have been held in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania this year.
Another training program in the works is through a partnership between the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the National Asphalt Pavement Association, the International Union of Operating Engineers and ARTBA. Officially called the Industry, Labor Group and Federal Government Alliance, the programs help employers train new workers with a roadway safety orientation. Program materials are available in flip charts, pamphlets and PowerPoint presentations.
In addition to the training courses, roadway construction safety manuals are available. The OSHA-approved ARTBA “Roadway Construction Safety Management Manual” helps construction workers identify hazards on jobsites. The manual contains safety information on excavation, equipment operating procedures and personal protective equipment.
The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse “cyber-library” housed at the Texas Transportation Institute is an online source for safety information. The website’s library has information on roadway construction safety practices, laws, regulations, public awareness campaigns, products, training and education materials. To access the clearinghouse, or to find out more about the other safety programs or manuals mentioned, click the links to the right.