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Road Construction and Workzone Hazards

Highway crews routinely work in hazardous conditions, near construction vehicles and motor vehicle traffic. Flaggers and other workers on foot are exposed to the risk of being struck by traffic vehicles or construction equipment if they are not visible to motorists or equipment operators. Drivers who operate construction vehicles or equipment risk collision, rolling, and being caught in running equipment. Regardless of their assigned job, lighting can be poor with low visibility and bad weather, and exposure to high traffic congestion and speeds is imminent.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) has developed and maintained the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which provides for uniform design and setup of highway work zones. The primary focus of Part 6 of the MUTCD is the interaction between the road user and the work zone. The MUTCD contains exhaustive specifications for signage, pavement and curb markings, traffic signals, and marking of school zones, bicycle facilities and highway-rail crossings. It outlines temporary traffic control measures for lane closures and shifts, detours, shoulder work, median crossovers, mobile operations, and blasting. The MUTCD also addresses topics such as training, personal protective equipment (PPE), speed reduction, barriers, and lighting, as they apply to highway construction. It also provides for uniform design and setup of highway work zones, and includes guidance for the development of temporary traffic control plans (TCPs) that determine the flow of traffic through work zones.

OSHA construction industry regulations address operation of vehicles and equipment within an off-highway job site not open to public traffic. It does cover types of machinery and safety equipment, but it does not address work practices, traffic control plans, or shift work. Flagging and signaling practices are discussed in general which also covers signs, signals, and barricades.

Compliance with the MUTCD and OSHA regulations is a necessary first step in providing a safe work environment, but lacks comprehensive guidance to ensure worker safety in highway work zones. To help identify these gaps in standards and regulations and to compile additional prevention measures to enhance worker safety, NIOSH undertook a comprehensive review of scientific literature, fatality and injury data, and current safety research.

Between OSHA, MUTCD and NIOSH standards and guidelines, a properly defensed workzone can often seem a daunting task. At HiVis Supply, we offer high visibility apparel and safety vests for the worker and traffic control devices for the workzone that can ensure a safe environment for those men and women paving the way for us all.

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