The Federal Highway Administration and local government organizations are partnering with the OSHA to sponsor a one-hour Safety Stand-Down at construction sites in conjunction with National Highway Work Zone Awareness Week from March 23-27.
Employers will voluntarily stop work on one designated day at construction sites that week from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. EDT to provide work zone safety training to road workers so they can protect themselves from the dangers of distracted drivers and injuries caused by passing vehicles, flying debris and other objects. Objects and vehicles striking workers are leading causes of road construction-related deaths.
“This alliance is about the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who died on-the-job because a driver was distracted by a text message, a phone call or other activity,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator for the Southeast. “This event will help employers identify hazards and how employees can avoid them and remind the industry of the importance of safety in these work zones.”
Work zone safety basics
If you supervise employees who perform roadwork on public highways, follow these tips to keep them safe:
- Develop and implement a traffic control plan to direct motorists around work zones.
- Use clear signage, signals, and message boards to communicate instructions to drivers traveling near work zones.
- Provide high-visibility clothing and hard hats to flaggers, and make sure they stand in a safe, well-lighted location where they can be easily seen by motorists.
- Whenever possible, use physical barriers to separate workers from traffic.
- Consider using alternative traffic management systems instead of flaggers, such as portable traffic signals or remote signaling devices, particularly in hazardous conditions like inclement weather, night work, and high traffic speeds.
- Refer to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) for standards on traffic control devices, signs, flagging garments, barricades, and other protective measures for workers in road construction zones. OSHA has incorporated the MUTCD by reference into its construction standards for signs, signals, and barricades, found at 29 CFR 1926.200-203.
- Establish safe routes for workers traveling on foot, both within the work zone to protect them from construction vehicles and equipment, and in and out of the work zone to protect them from traffic hazards.
- Train all workers in highway construction zones on the hazards they are exposed to and applicable safe work practices. This should include:
- Specific training for flaggers on signaling methods;
- Training for all workers on construction vehicle routes, visibility limits, and blind spots;
- Training for equipment operators and signal persons on hand signals used on the worksite; and
- Training for all workers in the ways in which shiftwork and night work may affect their performance.