It’s no secret that road construction comes with its fair share of hazards. After all, working with heavy machinery, next to multi-lane highways is no typical office job.
However, did you know that on average more than 20,000 roadside workers are injured every year?
The statistics are sobering, to say the least:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that from 2003 to 2017, 1,844 highway crew members died on the job. The number of fatal work-related injuries on-site averages over 100 per year.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that heavy/civil engineering construction and specialty trade contractors account for 62 percent of worker fatal injuries.
In December, an entire night crew was struck by a drunk driver in Arlington, Virginia. This is one of many instances where workers were injured or killed by impaired drivers.
“The roads (…) are our office,” Jim Reed told WXYZ-TV Detroit after his colleague was hit by a drunk driver. “This is where our people work. Thousands of individuals from Michigan work on the roads every day. It’s important that we slow down and do the right thing.”
Safety shouldn’t be a fleeting luxury for our workers in the field. So, what can we do better?
Grab Distracted Drivers Attention
Distracted drivers are one of the biggest hazards for road crews. To get their attention, it is best to use multiple signals.
Use certified flaggers to slow down traffic and allow passage through one-lane areas. Signs should be in place to signal that there are flaggers and road work ahead.
Construction Executive states ”Directives, such as evacuation route, do not enter, reduced speed ahead, road closed, and no outlet, assist drivers entering work zones and construction sites.”
Require Daily Safety Chats
Accidents may seem like an inevitable part of construction work. However, workers should receive daily reminders to mitigate the risks that are in their control.
These steps include preventing falls, wearing proper safety gear, maintaining distance from rotating equipment/unguarded parts, and exercising extreme caution around utility lines.
This video is a safety meeting from the Manhattan Building company. This comes from the vertical side, but the tone and delivery are still on point for heavy highway/civil.
Foremen should always be watching for any safety hazards, correcting unsafe practices, and sharing daily toolbox talks with their supervisors.
Which brings me to my next point:
Document, Document, Document
So, you’re having daily safety chats to keep your crew members informed, but have you documented it?
Too many times when accidents happen, companies are caught scrambling for proof that they took necessary precautions. Without proper documentation, not only are you unable to save yourself from litigation, but you also can’t be sure you’re doing everything in your power to protect your employees.
To learn more about how you can easily create custom forms for field documentation, click here.
Eighty-three percent of Americans drive frequently, so we can all either be part of the problem or part of the solution.
If you have the tools to reach an audience (no matter how small) take the time to share the statistics in this post.
Make an effort to remind people to slow down by adding a human element behind the “Caution Road Work Ahead” signs.
These are our fellow industry professionals, and they deserve to go to work and feel as safe as I do sitting at my desk. Maybe that isn’t entirely realistic, but we could all use a reminder to drive more carefully.