Work zones are areas where road construction, maintenance, or utility work occurs. These zones pose significant safety risks for workers and motorists. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 20,000 workers are injured in road construction-related incidents yearly. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there were 532 fatal occupational injuries in the United States due to roadway incidents in 2019.
Raising awareness of the potential hazards and encouraging motorists to slow down and drive carefully is essential to increase safety in work zones. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recommends the following tips for work zone safety:
- Pay attention to signs and flaggers: Work zones are typically marked with signs and flaggers. Pay close attention to these indicators and follow the instructions of the flaggers.
- Slow down: Work zones often have reduced speed limits to account for construction activity. Slow down and obey these speed limits to avoid accidents.
- Maintain a safe following distance: Construction vehicles and workers may enter or exit the roadway unexpectedly. To prevent accidents, maintain a safe following distance from other vehicles.
- Avoid distractions: Distracted driving is a significant cause of accidents in work zones. Avoid using electronic devices and other distractions while driving through work zones.
- Be patient: Delays are common in work zones. Be patient and expect delays, especially during peak travel times.
Employers can also increase safety in work zones by training people on how to work safely in these environments, providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and implementing traffic control measures to minimize risks to their people and motorists.
Work zones pose significant safety risks for everyone. By raising awareness of the potential hazards and following the tips provided by the FHWA, we can help reduce the risk of accidents in work zones. Employers can also increase safety by providing training, PPE, and traffic control measures.