Infrastructure Law

Understanding Highway & Road Construction Work Zone Safety featured image

Understanding Highway & Road Construction Work Zone Safety

According to the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), transportation accidents have been the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States every year since 1992. Data collected by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) demonstrates that approximately 20,000 construction workers are injured, and 100 are killed each year in highway and road construction accidents. As more road work continues to be performed on open roadways and traffic continues to grow, leading to more congestion and the increasing use of night work, there’s never been a better time to consider the regulations and good practices available to help construction workers perform their jobs safely. 

In today’s article, we’ll be going over just a few of the most essential safety tips to improve the safety and efficiency of highway and roadway construction jobs. Should you need any further assistance complying with the safety standards for highway and roadway construction sites or reducing the risk for work-related injuries on your jobsite, please reach out to one of the Central FL contractor lawyers with Cotney Attorneys & Consultants.

Related: Roadway Safety Tips: Are Your Workers Safe?

Common Causes of Highway and Roadway Construction Injuries

By far, the leading cause of roadside worker injuries and fatalities is contact with construction vehicles and equipment, while the leading cause for the workers operating the vehicle or equipment is collisions or overturning equipment. While accidents are bound to happen when heavy machinery is involved, the Associated General Contractors of America Highway Worker Safety Program has identified four main hazards for construction workers, known as the Focus Four Hazards. These include:

  • Electrocutions caused by contact with live circuits or utility lines
  • Caught-in-betweens caused by unguarded parts or rotating equipment
  • Falls caused by unprotected edges or improperly constructed surfaces
  • Struck-bys caused by falling or flying objects or vehicle strikes

More than half of the fatalities between 2005 and 2010 were caused by run-overs or back-overs involving construction vehicles. These collisions were frequently attributed to limited visibility around the vehicle, as many workers were cleaning or repairing, directing traffic, or walking along the road when the accident occurred. Other hazards that may increase the likelihood of work-related injuries for construction workers include constricted work sites, vehicle congestion, low light, inclement weather, and more. If you need help identifying the cause of a work-related injury or fatality which occurred on your construction site, get in touch with a

Central FL contractor attorney.Related: Tips for Highway Work Zone Safety

Development of a Safety Program

Given that the hazards and challenges associated with roadway construction are unique to each work zone, you’ll want to design a site-specific safety program that falls in line with the characteristics of each site in order to lessen the risk of work-related injuries and fatalities. An effective roadway safety plan consists of the following aspects:

  • Identification of all hazards in the surrounding area, including oncoming traffic, pedestrian walkways, and power lines
  • Hiring qualifications for all drivers
  • Preparation for emergency response plans and first aid
  • Availability of emergency medical care in the event of an accident
  • A formal drug and alcohol program
  • Regular maintenance inspection criteria
  • Accident reporting procedures
  • A detailed load securement policy
  • Defensive driver training
  • Schedules that ensure the routine inspection of equipment and materials throughout the duration of the project
  • Load securement training

In addition to creating this plan, you should also evaluate the conditions of the worksite and brief your crew each day since conditions and hazards can vary greatly. Contact one of the Central Fl contractor attorneys from Cotney Attorneys & Consultants for any help developing, implementing, or enforcing a similar safety program on your jobsite. 

Best Practices

Alongside the creation of a safety program, it’s also important that your workers are complying with best practices for working on highway or road construction work zones. Below, we’ve outlined just a few of the most essential best practices to ensure that each of your workers is following during their work on one of these projects:

  • Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Each worker must wear the appropriate PPE, such as steel-toed shoes, gloves, earmuffs or earplugs, and highly-visible clothing. This is especially important if your workers are going to be performing work at nighttime.
  • Control Traffic Flow: Create an advanced warning area for your work zone that consists of components like clear markings where the work zone ends and begins, a buffer area between workers and oncoming traffic, traffic cones, and barricades. 
  • Beware Blind Spots: Ensure that all mirrors and visual aid devices are properly attached and operating, such as backup alarms and light. Advise your workers to always stay in visual contact with the driver to avoid accidents.
  • Establish a Competent Person: Make sure to have a competent person on hand or an individual who is capable of identifying hazards and holds the authorization to take corrective measures to eliminate them. They can select the appropriate class of PPE and traffic control devices.

Other safe practices include never riding on moving equipment and making sure to apply all parking brakes on construction equipment. If you’re supervising or managing a highway or roadway construction project, you’ll most likely wish to consult a Central FL construction lawyer who can assist you with a number of administrative controls, including training workers and completing a risk assessment.

If you would like to speak with one of 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.