According to the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) a work zone is an area of a highway with construction, maintenance, or utility work activities. A work zone is typically marked by signs, channelizing devices, barriers, pavement markings, and/or work vehicles. Highway, road, street, bridge, tunnel, utility, and other workers for the highway infrastructure are exposed to hazards from outside as well as from inside the work zone.
OSHA Standard 1926.200(g)(1-2) Construction areas shall be posted with legible traffic signs at points of hazard. All traffic control signs or devices used for protection of construction workers shall conform to Part VI of the MUTCD, 1988 Edition, Revision 3, or Part VI of the MUTCD, Millennium Edition, incorporated by reference in Sec. 1926.6.
For crews that are working on projects in work zones, a daily safety meeting at the start of every shift is recommended. If that is not feasible, then weekly safety meetings with every crew on the project should be held.
In addition to covering other hazards that are specific to the project and the job site, the points listed below for work zone safety should be emphasized at every safety meeting.
- Workers need to be visible to any potential traffic and heavy equipment.
- Safety vests may need to be worn with hard hats to help the worker stand out and be visible to traffic.
- Work zones need to be clearly identified both for the safety of the workers and for the public.
- Federal and State standards regulate the type of signs, barricades, barriers or channeling devices that can be used.
- Posted speed, type of work and time of day are all factors that workers should know when required to establish work zones.
- Workers should obey the requirements of the work zone including wearing the correct safety equipment.
- Damaged barriers and signs or missing cones or traffic control devices should be reported immediately and replaced as soon as possible.
- Flaggers must be properly trained and equipped with the correct tools to perform the work.
- Flagger stations should be located so that an errant vehicle has additional space to stop without entering the work space.