Work zone safety: Avoiding hazards on the jobsite
More than 40,000 people are injured each year in work-zone-related crashes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
Workers using construction vehicles or equipment risk injury, even death, from overturns, collisions or being caught in equipment while it is running. Additionally, traffic flaggers and other workers on foot are vulnerable if they are not visible to motorists or equipment operators.
Follow a work zone safety plan
To ensure worker safety, project managers can implement an internal traffic-control plan (ITCP) to coordinate construction vehicles, equipment and workers operating within the work zone. Used consistently, temporary traffic-control devices, such as signage, warning devices, paddles and concrete barriers help direct vehicles and also help reduce injuries.
Periodically during the course of work, the project supervisor should evaluate the effectiveness of the temporary traffic-control setup by walking or riding the job, looking for skid marks, damaged barricades and other evidence of near misses. Make any necessary changes to the ITCP immediately.
Keep messages on the warning signs simple, brief and easy to understand. Set up all devices before construction begins so that motorists don’t become complacent and ignore warning signs when the work starts. And finally, give motorists plenty of advance warning of upcoming work zones.
To benefit workers on foot, equip flaggers with devices, such as brightly colored hats and vests that increase their visibility to passing motorists and construction vehicles. Select one worker as a ground guide to help direct large vehicles with limited views.
Vehicle safety checklist
Follow these work zone safety practices when working with and near vehicles:
- Use a back-up alarm or guide during all backing of bidirectional machines such as rollers, compactors, front-end loaders, bulldozers and similar equipment.
- Use a horn that is distinguishable from the surrounding noise level when the machine is moving.
- Inspect all vehicles before use for broken or unsafe conditions, including all brake systems, tires, horn, steering and any other safety and health program systems.
- Engage the parking brakes on all vehicles when not in use. Block and chock vehicles on hills as needed.
- Ensure that all vehicles have working headlights, brake lights and taillights when used in low light.
- Use seats and seat belts when transporting workers in motor and construction vehicles.
Article courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders.