Although many types of construction work can be considered hazardous, few tasks are more dangerous than those conducted in road construction work zones.
A number of construction site hazards can be mitigated through effective control measures, but the unpredictability of other drivers—particularly those who are impatient or inattentive – puts work zone crews at a higher level of risk. Here are some tips to keep safe while in a work zone.
1. Know the jobsite safety plan and know it well
Your supervisor will have not only a jobsite safety plan, but also a traffic control plan designed specifically for the work zone. This plan will outline the traffic flow, as well as designating pedestrian-free zones and pinpointing the location of barriers and other positive traffic control measures. Prior to beginning work, familiarize yourself with the plan, so you’ll know exactly where it is safe to walk or to stand.
2. Make yourself visible
Never assume anyone – whether it’s a driver or an equipment operator – can see you. Wear high-visibility safety apparel at all times while in the work zone. Know the blind spots of the equipment and vehicles in the work zone, and be sure to stay out of those areas. Never remain in an area near working equipment if you don’t need to be there. If you’re on foot, maintain eye contact with operators when you’re working near moving equipment. When standing near parked equipment, stand in front or on the operator’s side so you’re easily seen.
3. Realize your risk of being injured increases during night work
After the sun goes down, the danger goes up. The darkness combined with the glare from lights will greatly reduce driver visibility. Poor weather conditions will only exacerbate the situation. Also, drivers may be less attentive than usual, as they are more likely to be tired. It’s more important than ever to stay in the proper areas designated by the traffic flow plan. In addition to wearing hi-vis apparel, make sure you have good lighting in your work area.
Keep your eyes and ears open and don’t get distracted. Awareness of your surroundings at all times is your best bet for remaining safe. Regularly check your work area for hazards, and be aware of any changes in procedures or traffic flow in the work zone. Always keep what you’ve learned in your safety training at the forefront of your mind, and remember, if you need a refresher course, many free programs and tools are available that will help you.