Traffic Work Zone Safety

With the sudden appearance of warm spring weather we are already seeing another sign of the season: road repair, street and parking lot sweeping, and highway cleanup crews.  Transportation incidents are the leading cause of death in the workplace, so take a minute to read over these tips if your employees are exposed to motor vehicle traffic. 

Some employers feel that placing a worker wearing a reflective vest in a traffic zone is acceptable rather than using other exposure control methods. Employers should control traffic risks by:

  1. Eliminating the hazard. Can the work be done when there is no vehicle traffic?
  2. Evaluating engineering controls. For example, can barriers be used to separate workers from all moving traffic?
  3. Implementing administrative controls. Ensure adequate training and strict work rules are enforced.  Keep workers out of the direct traffic lane when possible, and ensure they are alert and attentive to all moving vehicles including construction equipment.
  4. Lastly, use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as retro-reflective clothing, hard hats, and safety toed boots.    

Flaggers must be effectively trained, certified, and supervised in order to prevent improper traffic flagging techniques. These can be caused by inadequate training, a low willingness to follow training objectives, or failure to properly supervise. Following the guidelines provided by the US Department of Transportation’s publication “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices” (MUTCD Part 6) is critical for proper work zone setup. Check out this resource here: MUTCD

OSHA provides a “Quick Card” for Work Zone Traffic Safety that can be found online: Work Zone OSHA Quick Card. Finally, the Center for Disease Control is a great resource for additional training documents and information regarding highway work zone safety. Check their website at CDC Highway Work Zones.