Work Zone Safety Tips

April 19, 2010
For many workers, such as police officers, sales personnel, utility workers, truck drivers, construction workers, fire fighters and emergency personnel, the “office” is actually a vehicle. To keep these workers and others safe, American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) members have developed safety tips for drivers passing through work zones.

According to ASSE, transportation accidents have been the leading cause of on-the-job deaths in the United States every year since 1992. In 2007 alone, 835 deaths resulted from motor vehicle crashes in U.S. road construction work zones.

Everyone plays a role in maintaining a safe work zone area during roadway construction. To play your part, follow these tips while driving through a work site:

DO…

  • Pay attention to the orange diamond-shaped warning signs or electronic message boards posted in advance of a road construction project.
  • Stay alert. Dedicate your full attention to driving.
  • Minimize distractions. Avoid changing radio stations, using a cell phone, etc. while driving in a work zone.
  • Drive carefully and slowly through the construction site; always obey the posted speed limits in the work zone area.
  • Pay close attention and heed directions on work zone warning signs. Signs and work zone flaggers save lives.
  • Watch for stopped or slowing traffic. Do not tailgate.
  • Expect the unexpected. Anticipate potential dangers.
  • Watch how the traffic ahead is flowing.
  • Keep an eye out for construction workers, their equipment and vehicles, as well as the vehicles around you.
  • Use extra caution when driving through a site at night.
  • Watch for detours and lane diversions.

DO NOT…

  • Speed up or slow down significantly while going through a work zone.
  • Slow down to look at the construction work being done.
  • Resume normal speed until after you emerge completely out of the work zone area.
  • Tailgate. Most of the accidents within a work zone are rear-end collisions.
  • Change lanes within a work zone.

Most states have instituted new laws regarding work zones; penalties for speeding in these areas are double that of the normal penalties for speeding in a non-work zone stretch of road.

ASSE recently released its “Work Zone Safety for Highway Construction” standard, A10.47-2009. According to the standard Committee Chair Scott Schneider, “Each year, many construction workers are killed in work zones. Their deaths could have been prevented. They were run over by motorists, backed over by construction vehicles and electrocuted by overhead power lines.”

For more information, download ASSE’s “Prevent Roadway Crashes” brochure.

About the Author

Laura Walter

Laura Walter was formerly senior editor of EHS Today. She is a subject matter expert in EHS compliance and government issues and has covered a variety of topics relating to occupational safety and health. Her writing has earned awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) and APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Her debut novel, Body of Stars (Dutton) was published in 2021.

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