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Traffic

Who Is "At Risk" in a Work Zone?

Each year in the US, hundreds of workers are killed or seriously injured when vehicles crash through traffic control devices and enter a work zone. Workers are also struck by equipment operating within the work area. Whether it’s repairing streets, cleaning storm sewer catch basins, painting intersections, or rebuilding manholes, tasks that require workers to share the road with vehicles put them at risk.

Preventive Measures:

A traffic control plan must be developed before the work begins to guide drivers through and around work zones. The traffic control plan must include:

  • Advanced warning to drivers of the work being done ahead

  • Placement of traffic control devices to clearly mark the work zone and channel traffic through it

  • ·A return to normal traffic patterns as quickly, safely, and efficiently as possible

The traffic control plan must address these factors:

  • The type of roadway (number of lanes, divided or undivided highway, etc.)

  • Traffic volume and speed (approximate number of vehicles passing through and the speed of vehicles)

  • Type of work to be done and how long it will last (pothole repair, fix a broken water line, roadway line painting, etc.)

  • Type and number of traffic control devices and signs needed to make the work zone safe

Creating a buffer zone between workers and traffic is the best way to protect them. Set up detours or use barriers such as type 3 barricades or concrete barriers, which protect workers much better than cones or barrels.

Reducing the speed of traffic in work zones also provides a safer work environment for workers. Put down portable rumble strips or using a pilot car to guide traffic at reduced speeds through the work zone area.

Advanced Warning Signs should be located far enough in advance to allow vehicles to move efficiently and smoothly through work areas. They must clearly inform motorists of approaching activity and guide drivers through that activity.

All advanced warning signs must be:

  • Orange background with black lettering or symbols

  • Retro-reflective or illuminated if used after dark

  • 4x4 feet if traffic moves at 45 mph or faster

  • 3x3 feet if speeds are 40 mph or slower

  • 7 feet above the road surface (measured to the bottom of the sign)

  • At least 1 foot above the road surface if the sign is portable

  • Less than 50% of the top two rails or not more than 33% of all rails if mounted on a barricade

Advance warning signs should be placed so as to give motorists enough time to react to the conditions they will find ahead of them. In general, the distance between the first warning sign and the work area should be increased the faster traffic is moving (Example: less than 40 mph = advanced warning sign 300 feet ahead; more than 45 mph = advanced warning sign 500 before work zone with at least 2 signs before entering work zone; add 100 feet for every 5 mph over 45 mph).

Traffic Control Devices such as cones, drums, barricades, tubular markers, and pavement markers are commonly used to alter or channel normal traffic flow. They alert drivers of work activities ahead and provide smooth and gradual traffic movement from one lane to the next. Cones, drums, and other devices must be made of lightweight materials and give way when struck by a vehicle. They must not break apart or be capable of penetrating the passenger compartment of a vehicle. The material used to weigh down devices (ballast) to prevent them from being easily blown over must also be made of materials that will cause only minimal damage to vehicles. Drums must be at least 3 feet tall and 18 inches wide, they must be orange and have 2 white alternating retro-reflective stripes. Stripes must be between 4 to 6 inches in width. The tops of the drums must be closed to prevent accumulation of debris. Steel drums are prohibited.  Barricades are of 3 types and can be portable or fixed: Type 1 must be at least 3 feet tall with one rail 2 feet in length; Type 2 must be at least 3 feet tall with 2 rails 2 feet in length; Type 3 must be at least 5 feet tall, have 3 rails at least 4 feet long. The rails on all 3 types must be between 8 and 12 inches wide. They should be equipped with warning lights and the lights should be either steady burn or flashing. The stripes on barricades must be alternating orange and white with reflective striping. The stripes should slope down at a 45-degree angle in the direction traffic is moving. Striping should be at least 4 inches wide (If the rails are more than 3 feet long the stripes should be 6 inches wide.) There should be a minimum of 270 square inches of retro-reflective tape for on-coming traffic.

Laws to Protect Workers

The US Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have issued the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). OSHA enforces the MUTCD and it is part of OSHA’s standards for the construction industry (29 CFR 1926.200, 29 CFR 1926.203). For state and local workers not covered by OSHA, the Department of Transportation requires that the standard be followed on all public roadways.

It is the municipality’s responsibility and duty to comply with these standards to protect both workers performing duties in and on roadways, as well as drivers and pedestrians using those roadways.

 

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Work Zone Safety According to OSHA

Traffic incidents and workers struck by vehicles or equipment account for the highest number of fatal work injuries in America according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Emergency responders, clean-up crews, utility workers, and construction workers working in areas where there are moving vehicles and traffic are exposed to being hit by a moving vehicle. Work zones are used to move traffic in an approved direction and are typically identified by signs, cones, barricades, and barriers. Municipal workers and citizens are to be protected by planning work zones (areas where construction and maintenance are being conducted) and using the proper protective and communication devices.

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 pedestrians must be able to see and understand the routes they are to follow. The authority in charge (federal, state, or local) will determine the internal traffic control plan within the construction worksite. When there are several projects, coordinated vehicle routes and communication between contractors will reduce incidents where people are struck by a vehicle.

Standard highway signs for information, speed limits, and advanced warnings for work zones will assist drivers in identifying such directives as “do not enter”, “road/lane closed”, and “reduced speed”. Using standard highway signs for construction or maintenance work sites will assist workers in recognizing the route they are to use at the work site.

Standard traffic control devices, signals, and message boards will instruct drivers to follow a path away from where work is being done. The authority in charge will determine the approved traffic control devices such as cones, barrels, barricades or candlestick posts that will be used as part of the traffic control plan. Use these same types of devices inside the work zone.

Various styles of concrete, water, sand, collapsible barriers, crash cushions, and truck mounted attenuators should be used to limit motorist intrusions into a construction work zone.

Flaggers and others providing temporary traffic control must wear high visibility clothing with a background of fluorescent orange-red or yellow-green and retroreflective material of orange, yellow, white, silver, or yellow-green. In areas of traffic movement, this personal protective equipment (PPE) will make a worker visible for at least 1,000 feet, so the worker can be seen from any direction, and make the worker stand out from the background. Make sure to check labels or packaging to ensure the garments are performance class 2 or 3.

Drivers should be warned in advance with signs that there will be a flagger ahead. Flaggers should use STOP-SLOW paddles with reflectorized panels. The STOP side should be octagonal in shape and be red with white letters, the SLOW side should also be octagonal shaped with orange coloring and black letters.

Flagger stations should be illuminated. Lighting for workers on foot and equipment operators is to be at least 5-foot candles or greater. Where available lighting is not sufficient, flares or chemical lighting should be used. Glare affecting workers and motorists must be controlled or eliminated.

Flaggers should be trained/certified and use the signaling methods required by the authority in charge. Workers on foot, equipment operators, and drivers in internal work zones need to understand routes that construction vehicles will be using. Equipment operators and signal workers need to know the hand signals used for the work site. Operators and workers on foot need to know the visibility limits and “blind spots” for each vehicle on site. Workers need to be made aware of the ways shiftwork and nightwork may affect their performance.

Finally, seatbelts and Rollover Protections Systems must be used on equipment and vehicles in and off the work site.

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Night Work Risks

Night Work Risks

Work Zone Safety - Maintenance Operations and Temporary Traffic Control
Roadway maintenance activities and sometimes water/sewer line repair occur in close proximity to traffic, creating a potentially dangerous environment for workers, drivers, and incident responders. In many cases a Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) Zone will be needed to both protect workers and incident responders as well as allow for the safe and efficient movement of drivers and pedestrians through and around the Work Zone. There are several Work Zone safety issues to plan and prepare for when setting up Temporary Traffic Controls.  One issue to consider is Night Work Risks.  Print the brochure below to share with your employees who must work near equipment and traffic.

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Flagger Safety

Flagger Safety

Work Zone Safety - Maintenance Operations and Temporary Traffic Control

Roadway maintenance activities and sometimes water/sewer line repair occur in close proximity to traffic, creating a potentially dangerous environment for workers, drivers, and incident responders. In many cases a Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) Zone will be needed to both protect workers and incident responders as well as allow for the safe and efficient movement of drivers and pedestrians through and around the Work Zone. There are several Work Zone safety issues to plan and prepare for when setting up Temporary Traffic Controls.  One issue to consider is Flagger Safety.  Print the brochure below to share with your employees who must work near equipment and traffic.

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Operator Safety

Operator Safety

Work Zone Safety -Maintenance Operations and Temporary Traffic Control
Roadway maintenance activities and sometimes water/sewer line repair occur in close proximity to traffic, creating a potentially dangerous environment for workers, drivers, and incident responders. In many cases a Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) Zone will be needed to both protect workers and incident responders as well as allow for the safe and efficient movement of drivers and pedestrians through and around the Work Zone. There are several Work Zone safety issues to plan and prepare for when setting up Temporary Traffic Controls.  One issue to consider is Operator Safety.  Print the brochure below to share with your employees who must work near equipment and traffic.

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