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Safety matters: Road construction zones

As a highway worker, you're one of the many people put at risk on the roads. You have to work around moving traffic in some cases, and, depending on the location, may face serious harm if you're not cautious.

Roadway maintenance is a necessity, but it's also dangerous for those who perform the work. Working within inches of traveling motorists is never easy, and there's always a threat that a driver could strike you. Highway work zones are known for their significant risks and potential for construction-related or traffic-related injuries.

What can you do to stay safe in road construction work zones?

First, it's imperative that you control the flow of traffic as well as the traffic's speed. Many construction zones now have variable speed limits to help address the speeds of surrounding traffic. By reducing the speed, there's a lower risk of serious or fatal injuries in the case that a crash does occur.

Another thing you can do to stay safe is to wear the right safety equipment. If you are impacted, fall or are otherwise in a dangerous situation, this equipment could save your life. A hardhat protects you from falling objects and could protect you if you hit your head. Likewise, wearing brightly colored construction attire helps draw attention to you, so drivers are less likely to strike you as a pedestrian.

A good idea for any work zone is to create a separate work area. Use cones, barrels and other kinds of barricades to separate specific areas where you plan to work. Separate workers, equipment and storage. It's a good plan to separate workers from traffic with barriers when possible as well.

Finally, remember that every work site is different. You need to have a specific safety program in place for your situation, including what to do in an emergency. A safety program specifically designed for roadway hazards is helpful in reducing the risk of injury.

Each day, take time to review the project's safety requirements, and make sure everyone on site is healthy and in the right condition to work. By checking to make sure your equipment is in good shape, that workers are healthy and that the work zone is one with as few hazards as possible, it's a reality that many of the injuries seen each year can be prevented. Good safety techniques keep you and others safe.

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