Infrastructure Law

Creating a Safety Plan for Highway Construction Projects featured image

Creating a Safety Plan for Highway Construction Projects

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced exciting plans to accelerate transportation projects throughout the Sunshine State, including several big projects in Hillsborough County. The goal is to stimulate the economy and take advantage of low traffic volumes due to COVID-19. If you’re interested in procuring state government projects through the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT), you will need to navigate the bid process. If you are selected for a project, you will also need to adhere to the safety requirements set forth by the agency. Fortunately, a Hillsborough County construction lawyer can assist you with accomplishing these tasks and more.

In this article, a representative with Cotney Attorneys & Consultants, a construction law firm, will provide you with a safety checklist you can utilize on transportation projects. If you have a safety issue or a legal concern, pick up the phone and call one of our Hillsborough County construction lawyers.  

Related: Tips for Roadside Construction Safety

Everything Starts With a Plan

If you procure a federal, state, or local government project, the agency will lay out traffic control plans that need to be implemented to protect both the workers and nearby motorists. A traffic control plan can mitigate safety risks both internally (on the jobsite) and externally (the adjacent roadways). Some areas that need to be addressed in a traffic control plan include:

  • Implementing required signage to alert motorists of construction work
  • Creating easily identifiable lane closures and transition areas
  • Creating an internal traffic control plan with access points and designated work zones
  • Isolating workers from equipment
  • Creating distance between work zones and public space
  • Utilizing low-cost retrofits and other treatments to improve roadway safety 
  • Training the workforce on these initiatives
  • Conducting daily inspections of the work zone and surrounding areas
  • Implementing these practices into new traffic patterns

Using Time-Tested Solutions

Every transportation project will require implementation of a variety of signs, barriers, cones, and other protective measures. All of the workers will need to be wearing bright-colored vests, hardhats, and other forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe on the roadway. Police cars or trucks will need to be positioned in front of the work zone to create a buffer area that further protects the workers. In some cases, flaggers and crew members will need to assist with traffic control objectives. Effective lighting will need to be installed throughout the work zone as well. 

Related: Roadway Safety Tips

Implementing New Technologies

Although many of the above technologies have been around for over 100 years and are still effective, contractors have a variety of digital innovations and technology they can utilize to advance their roadside safety initiatives further than static signs and roadside barriers ever could. For example, every major roadside project should be incorporating a smart work zone (SWZ) system that can greatly reduce the number of fatal work zone crashes. This technology can detect a work truck as it nears the exit point of a jobsite and send out a signal to a portable changeable message sign (PCMS) upstream alerting drivers that a large truck is exiting the area. Whether it’s implementing a radar-based detection system, geofencing the jobsite, utilizing GPS tracking technology, or adding flashing lights to static signs, there are several ways that new technologies can provide a safer workplace.  

Establishing Effective Company Policies

Although there are many physical barriers and technologies that need to be incorporated into the safety plan, there are also company policies that can be added to your handbook to improve safety objectives. You should never draft your own handbook; this should strictly be performed by our experienced Central FL contractor lawyers. One policy that contractors should consider enforcing for their jobsites is prohibiting the use of cell phones and headphones during operations. Workers need to be focused and engaged with their surroundings, so these policies can be added to a company handbook to ensure everyone is on the same page. 

Related: The Dangers of Smartphones on the Jobsite

Developing Safety Manuals and Training Initiatives

Similarly, a Central FL construction lawyer can draft any safety manuals your business needs. Although traffic control plans may vary depending on the agency you are working for and the roadside you are performing work on, there are some internal traffic control plans that are evergreen, including limiting vehicle use to certain access points and coordinating truck and equipment movements throughout the work zones. If you need assistance implementing effective safety training initiatives, reach out to one of our construction attorneys to learn more.

Performing Your Due Diligence

Maintaining a safe work area on a roadside construction project presents many challenges from the internal fleet management and workforce communication initiatives to the outside forces that are beyond the contractor’s control. Moreover, as the highway work zone continues to shift, contractors will need to adjust their safety practices to align with these ever changing needs. It’s critical that construction teams have daily meetings and toolbox talks to ensure everyone is on the same page and aware of their responsibilities in regard to safety objectives. As there are a lot of responsibilities involved in roadway construction projects, it’s important to have a knowledgeable legal advocate in your corner. For unlimited access to construction attorneys on-demand and safety advice when you need it, learn more about our legal subscription plan model.  

If you would like to speak with our Central FL contractor lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.