Safety in the Zone

Just after Easter, my family received news that my former brother-in-law had been killed in an accident while driving near Gary, IN. A professional truck driver, he was passing through a construction zone around 1:00 a.m. when traffic slowed or stopped. He apparently couldn’t stop his fully loaded semi in time and rear ended the trailer of the truck in front of him. He was killed on impact, leaving behind my 7-year-old niece and a 1-year-old son.

Tragedies such as this reinforce how dangerous construction zones can be for motorists. They also help to underscore the hazards workers in these areas face. Roadway construction workers are killed at a rate nearly three times higher than other construction workers and eight times higher than general industry workers, according to an American Road and Transportation Builders Association(ARTBA) review of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The fatality rate for roadway construction workers is 32 people for every 100,000 workers, compared to 13 people for all construction and four people for general industry.

Because roadway construction sites present their own unique sets of hazards, ARTBA has developed several programs aimed at improving worker safety. These include:

  • Training seminars — Through an OSHA grant and in partnership with CNA Insurance and the National Safety Council, ARTBA is providing free four-hour training seminars in states with high accident and injury rates. The seminars are aimed at educating workers about the hazards they face in roadway construction zones.
  • The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse — The Clearinghouse is the world’s largest “cyber-library” (http://wzsafety. tamu.edu) of information on roadway construction safety “best practices”, laws, regulations, public awareness campaigns, products, training and education materials.
  • Industry, labor group and federal government alliance — Under another OSHA grant, ARTBA is working with the Laborers’ International Union of North America, National Asphalt Pavement Association and International Union of Operating Engineers to develop hazard awareness training and education programs for new workers.
  • Roadway Construction Safety Management Manual — The newly revised manual was developed exclusively for transportation construction professionals to help identify hazards on jobsites and increase safety awareness in roadway construction zones.

    ARTBA has also joined forces with RAI Amsterdam to create Intertraffic North America, the first comprehensive conference and exposition for the transportation construction and traffic management industries. It will be held in September 2005. To learn more about this event or any of the programs listed, please visit www.artbanews.org

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