Members of the OSHA Georgia Struck-By Alliance and the Associated General Contractors of Georgia Inc. (AGC Georgia) will join thousands of employers and workers during this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), which takes place April 26-30. This year’s theme is “Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives. Everyone plays a role in work zone safety.”
NWZAW is an annual campaign sponsored by federal, state and local transportation officials to raise public awareness about the need to drive safely in work zones. The campaign is held at the start of the highway construction season and draws attention to the safety of road workers as well as motorists.
The Georgia Struck-By Alliance encourages participants to recognize NWZAW by conducting safety stand-downs at their job sites. During a safety stand-down, all work is stopped for 30 minutes to one hour and a focused safety meeting on one specific topic is provided. AGC Georgia explained that “these types of meetings provide effective communication of safety policies, goals and expectations through all levels of a team.” They recommend that participants conduct toolbox talks, perform safety equipment inspections, develop rescue plans or discuss job-specific hazards during their safety stand-downs.
Safety Starts with Training
Safety starts with training, and OSHA requires employers to provide training to workers who face hazards on the job. Those who perform infrastructure operations on highways, roads, streets, bridges, tunnels and utilities are exposed to hazards from both outside and inside work zones. Fall, electrical, struck-by and caught-between hazards are common.
According to national data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in the U.S. during 2018 – the most recent year for which data is available – there were:
Transportation incidents and workers who are struck by vehicles or mobile equipment account for the highest number of fatal work injuries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers including emergency responders and those responsible for cleanup, utilities, demolition, construction and directing traffic are at risk of being struck by moving vehicles. Work zones are used to move traffic in an approved direction and are typically identified by signs, cones, barrels and barriers.
Preventing Struck-By Incidents
There must be a traffic control plan for the movement of vehicles in areas where there are workers conducting other tasks. Drivers, workers on foot and other pedestrians must be able to see and understand the routes they are to follow. Federal, state or local authorities determine the configuration of temporary traffic control zones for motorists and pedestrians. The construction project manager determines the internal traffic control plan within the construction/demolition work site. When there are several projects, coordinated vehicle routes and communication between contractors can reduce vehicular struck-by incidents.
Following are various actions that employers and workers can take to help prevent struck-by incidents:
For motorists, here are 11 tips to know for driving in work zones:
The Georgia Struck-By Alliance has created a registration page that contains a variety of fact sheets and safety training materials, including flagging safety tips; work zone safety tips; struck-by hazards; tips for traveling safely in work zones; and suggestions to prepare for a successful safety stand-down. To review those resources and more, visit www.agcga.org/web/Safety/Struck_By_Stand_Down_April_2021.aspx?WebsiteKey=412b73a8-57bf-4260-bd7c-6d526d9b2354.
About the Author: Marilyn M. Vélez, MPH, is the compliance assistance specialist for the OSHA Atlanta-West Area Office. She started her career with OSHA in 1997 as an industrial hygienist.
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