A week full of safety activities could keep your workers safe — and alive.
Tis’ the season for construction. With that comes safety zones, and a string of potential hazards associated with traffic control mishaps and impaired or distracted drivers.
You and your workers are in harm’s way each time you set up shop on the side of the road to hydroexcavate a line for sewer and water infrastructure repair, or park your CCTV van to inspect a lateral for breaks or cracks, so there’s no better time for a primer on work zone safety.
And to make it even easier, National Work Zone Awareness Week sets aside seven days for you to feed your work zone safety craving.
National Work Zone Awareness Week, sponsored by the American Traffic Safety Services Association in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration, aims to educate the public on work zone safety, but it also serves as a reminder for drain cleaning and pipeline inspection companies and municipalities to review safety training.
The national safety event runs the week of April 7-11, and this year’s theme is “Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake.” Representatives from local and national transportation administrations will hand out pins and ribbons with the slogan in support of work zone safety and awareness.
This is a great opportunity for you to take advantage of a national safety week. Dedicate the week to review of traffic control procedures and safety training. You could designate each day to a specific work zone procedure and encourage workers to brainstorm ideas for in-house education. Another idea? Kick off the week with a ceremony to honor workers for first-class safety efforts, or, after a week of safety activities, celebrate workers’ participation with a party or dinner.
Don’t become a statistic
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 20,000 workers are injured in road construction work zones each year. That’s an unsettling figure. The good news is road worker fatalities fell significantly from 165 in 2005 to 106 in 2010, but that’s no consolation to the families of those who’ve lost their lives. The administration cites three primary causes for fatal accidents: runovers/backovers, collision between vehicles and mobile equipment, and being caught in between or struck by construction equipment or objects.
Good safety practices can prevent these injuries and deaths. Industry expert and pipeline inspection company owner Jim Aanderud recommends taking precautions where workers are more vulnerable, especially during setup and take down of traffic control signage and cones. Here are a few tips to keep everyone on the job site safe:
- Never turn your back to traffic and always keep your eye on oncoming vehicles in order to react appropriately.
- Always anticipate a hazardous situation. Having an escape plan ready can save lives.
- Leave plenty of room in the work area — the more cushion, the better. The more reaction time, the safer you will be.
- Be conscious of the sound of a vehicle hitting a cone. That sound should trigger a survival reaction — move!
You can never be too prepared to save workers’ lives. Have a plan in place on the off chance an accident occurs: How will workers get out of the way? Where will they move?
The best tip? Be aware of your surroundings. You can’t control distracted or impaired drivers, but you can be prepared to get out of the way in the case of an emergency. Don’t let your workers become statistics. Stay safe. Stay alive.
How do you ensure workers are as safe as possible when working near dangerous roads? What will you do to celebrate National Work Zone Awareness Week?