While workers in countless industries face danger every day, construction work remains near the top of every at-risk category for worker safety. Whether it is falling from height, exposure to toxic materials or crush injuries, construction workers risk suffering catastrophic injuries on nearly every shift. Unfortunately, the risk for injuries can increase depending on the location of the job site.
When work must be completed on the road or directly adjacent to it, a construction crew must take steps to ensure their safety. Unfortunately, the drivers moving through the work zone could be distracted, drowsy, impaired or simply inexperienced. These drivers might ignore the posted warning signs and speed through the zone or recklessly change lanes putting workers at risk.
What is generally done to prevent accidents?
Commonly, every highway construction zone is flooded with warning signs and safety signals. From speed controls such as limit signs and radar displays to advance warning of lane closures and merges, the construction crew take several steps to communicate dangers with the cars and trucks traveling through the zone. Unfortunately, these warnings are often ignored.
In a comprehensive study of worker fatalities, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted:
- From 2003 to 2017, 1,844 worker deaths were recorded at road construction sites.
- During the 15 years of the study, Texas ranked as the state with the highest number of worker deaths at road construction sites (218), followed by Florida (132) and Pennsylvania (91).
What can be done to eliminate danger?
While there is no all-inclusive checklist, many steps center on driver and worker education. Even though it can be a challenge to work with one eye on the job and one eye on passing traffic, this must become the norm. No matter the number of signs, signals, flag-carriers or warnings of police involvement, some drivers will remain unsafe. These drivers will choose to speed through the zone to reach a destination faster. They will choose to continue eating dinner on the way home rather than focusing completely on the road.
Short of active, on-site law enforcement and dramatic advances in driver HUD technology, there might be shockingly little that can be done to curtail these hazards. Construction workers must be trained – and encouraged – to work in safe positions where they can see the road while on the job.
If you were injured in a construction site accident, it is wise to discuss your case with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.