Work zone safety

Safety for workers, drivers and pedestrians at roadway construction sites is paramount for the industry. Three ways to improve safety are through outreach campaigns, safety training and the use of innovations in technology. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF) recently hon-oured award winners in these three categories at the National Traffic Management & Work Zone Safety Conference in Orlando, Florida.

The association is U.S. based but their message is not limited to borders; that is, to keep everyone safe. While the awards for outreach and safety training went to U.S. public and private transportation organizations, the methods they used can be applied to Canada. I found some of the approaches and ideas of the award winners fascinating. Following are some highlights (to read more, visit, www. artbatdf.org).

Louisiana TIMED Managers generated buzz about their safety efforts for the 100 employees on the Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson Parish by various means, including a dedicated web site and YouTube page.

With a high volume of work, the Oregon Department of Transportation launched a unique campaign to alert motorists and road users to the dangers surrounding work zones and the need to drive safely by “humanizing” road work crews. Project team members developed the “My Daddy Works on the Highway” slogan to catch and maintain public attention. Campaign advertisements and literature featured actual contractors, local workers and their families in each media market. To address the issue of work zone fatalities and injuries, the private corporation, CH2M HILL, created the “Work Zone Safety Matters” campaign. During April, May and June of each year, the campaign works to educate CH2M HILL employees, customers and public officials with safety awareness kits. Guy F. Atkinson Construction developed an extensive employee safety program to help reduce the recordable workplace incident rate by nearly half. It included a 34-module computerized safety training program, smaller inter-active group training exercises and regular toolbox safety training – all of which began on each employee’s first day and continued throughout the project. Significantly, the program required the participation of all project employees at Atkinson, as well as subcontractors and Washington State Department of Transportation employees assigned to the project. Roadway markings used in work zones – especially those in “all weather” or heavy rain areas – require a unique product. 3M developed such a product: a new pavement marking material that helps ensure visibility under all weather conditions and which is especially tailored to work zone applications. 

The Plate Lock system, developed by C and S Lane, Inc. of Med-ford, Oregon, is a new and innovative way of securing road plates commonly used in work zones.  They are mechanically fastened to the roadway, thus eliminating the use of “cold patches” which rely on adhesion to the road.  The Plate Lock system also provides an added safety feature because the devices are painted a highly visible orange when they are in use in a work zone.

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