Working In Traffic: Do You Know the Dangers? (Part 1 of 2)

Working in traffic is a dangerous job, and it is easy for workers and drivers to become confused and frustrated as they navigate through construction zones. In this two-part blog series, I share ways to prevent, or even eliminate, work zone injuries and fatalities with a strong focus on safety.

Summer is great! Warm weather, the smell of food cooking on the grill, the sound of kids outside enjoying the day with their friends, and, of course, the best sight of all: orange barrels.

Yes, road construction can be frustrating, especially when you are not expecting it. But keep in mind that it is also frustrating for those who are building the roads and bridges that we depend on. And not only that – it is also very dangerous. There were 609 fatalities in construction and maintenance work zones in 2012.

Temporary traffic control devices (TTCDs), like orange barrels, cones, barricades and signs, may not be your favorite summer sight, but they’re an important indication of a work zone. Drivers need to use extra caution as they approach these zones, and employers need to take the proper safety measures to keep employees safe in these areas.

How do you prepare for the unique dangers of working in traffic?

1. Assess the Hazards. Workers and motorists face different dangers. Workers can be struck by a vehicle or construction equipment, fall and/or encounter frustrated, speeding motorists. Motorists deal with entering buffer or work space as TTCDs are set up or removed, merging due to lane closures, and/or traffic congestion. Determine the risks at your worksite.

2. Select Proper Controls. There are a number of important precautions to prevent work zone injuries. Consider how the following controls may apply to the hazards at your worksite and keep your employees safe:

  • TTCDs
  • High-visibility garments
  • Work from a platform
  • Maintain visual and/or audio communication
  • Develop a procedure for motorist interactions
  • Training and documentation

Check back next week, when I dive into details for these six important safety precautions.

For more information on keeping your employees safe while working in traffic:

-Pat O’Brien


Pat has broad experience working with contractors, supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants and the hospitality industry. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), holds the Associate of Risk Management (ARM) designation, Associate of Underwriting (AU) designation, and is a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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