Each year, there are thousands of injuries and triple-digit numbers of fatal accidents related to machine and equipment operation. A lot of these accidents involve the operator, but over half involve people on the ground – spotters, co-workers, laborers, shovel hands, passers-by and sidewalk superintendents who get too close. And because of the forces and physics involved, these are usually not first-aid injuries; there is often an ambulance and sometimes a coroner called to the jobsite. Road Construction Safety
The United States has over 4 trillion miles of road, over 65% of which is paved. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created over 12,600 road construction projects, over 10,000 of which are currently in progress. Workers in highway work zones are exposed to a variety of hazards and face risk of injury and death from construction equipment as well as passing motor vehicles. Workers on foot are exposed to passing traffic, often at high speeds, while workers who operate construction vehicles are at risk of injury due to overturn, collision, or being caught in running equipment.
Regardless of the task assigned, all construction workers work in conditions of poor lighting, poor visibility, inclement weather, congested work areas, high volume traffic and speeds. In 2011, there were a total of 119 fatal occupation fatalities in road construction sites. In 2010 there were 37,476 injuries in work zones, about 20,000 of those injuries are construction workers. Because they are so complicated, slight lapses in safety or awareness that might lead to mild accidents in other construction sites can be deadly for roadway construction workers. Causes of road worksite injuries include being struck by objects, trucks or mobile equipment (35%), falls or slips (20%), overexertion (15%), transportation incidents (12%), and exposure to harmful substances or environments (5%).
Causes of fatalities include getting hit by trucks (58%), mobile machinery (22%), and automobiles (13%). Media Safety Campaigns Road construction safety remains a priority among workers. Several states have implemented campaigns addressing construction zone dangers and encouraging motorists to use caution when driving through work zones. National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week is held yearly. The national event began in 1999 and has gained popularity and media attention each year since. The purpose of the event is to draw national attention to motorist and worker safety issues in work zones. This year National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week will be held in Washington, D.C. on April 15–19. Efforts to improve safety
Although construction is one of the worst industries in Europe in terms of safety, there have been, and are, various groups working towards improving construction conditions and safety. Construction conditions have improved ten-fold from 15 years ago, and as technology increases, so does the safety and working conditions of construction jobs. Organizations working toward improving construction safety include: Construction Safety Council
CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training
In the United States, efforts have been made in the first decade of the 21st century to improve safety for both road workers and drivers in construction zone. In 2004, Title 23 Part 630 Subpart J of the Code of Federal Regulations was updated by congress to include new regulations that direct state agencies to systematically create and adopt comprehensive pans to address safety in road construction zones that receive federal funding.
Though the regulations are mostly very broad in defining how states must create and implement plans, the regulations do set out specific requirements on how state agencies must plan for “significant project”: “Significant projects are those anticipated to cause sustained work zone impacts greater than what is considered tolerable based on state policy and/or engineering judgment.”  For these “significant projects”, state agencies are required to create Traffic Management Plans (TMP) and Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) plans to address ongoing safety concerns. State agencies must also create Public Information (PI) strategies to educate the public about potential safety and traffic disruption concerns. Personal protective equipment
Hard hats and steel-toe boots are perhaps the most common personal protective equipment worn by construction workers around the world. A risk assessment may deem that other protective equipment is appropriate, such as gloves,
goggles, or high-visibility clothing. Hazards to non-workers
Many construction sites cannot completely exclude non-workers. Road construction sites must often allow traffic to pass through. This places non-workers at some degree of risk.
This sign and advisory plate penetrated the windshield and roof of a car in a side-impact test crash. A safer sign would have stiffer uprights, no advisory plate and the flashing light would be moved to the point of the sign to spread the impact force. Road construction sites are blocked-off and traffic is redirected. The sites and vehicles are protected by signs and barricades. However, sometimes even these signs and barricades can be a hazard to vehicle traffic. For example, improperly designed barricades can cause cars that strike them to roll over or even be thrown into the air.
Even a simple safety sign can penetrate the windshield or roof of a car if hit from certain angles. The majority of death in construction are caused by hazards relating to construction activity. However, many deaths are also caused by non construction activities, such as electrical hazards. A notable example of this occurred when Andy Roberts, a father of four, was killed while changing a light bulb at a construction site when he came into contact with a loose bare wire that was carrying two thousand volts of electricity and died. (August 1988 New York (U.S.A)). Events like this motivated the passing of further safety laws relating to non construction activities such as electrical work laws. Before work starts on site
Health and safety should be designed into constructions,
before, during and after the building phase. It is cheaper
and easier to control the risks to workers in construction
before work starts on site, for example by:
■ putting in place a purchasing policy for machinery and
work equipment (for example, buying tools with low
noise and vibration emissions);
■ setting health and safety requirements in tender
specifications (meeting national legislation as a
■ planning the work process to minimise the number of
workers who could be harmed (for example, schedule
noisy work when the least number of workers are likely to
■ starting your control activities before getting to site (for example, by planning, training, site induction and
■ setting down the procedures for effective consultation
and participation of workers on OSH issues;
■ ensuring all persons, including managers, are trained and able to carry out their work without risk to the safety or
health of themselves or other workers.
Management on site
Employers, with project supervisors, must cooperate and
protect workers’ health and safety. This can be achieved by: ■ avoiding risks to all workers;
■ evaluating risks that cannot be avoided;
■ combating risks at source;
■ using collective measures to protect workers;
■ using individual measures where there are no other
■ establishing emergency procedures;