The leading cause of roadside worker injuries and fatalities is contact with construction vehicles and equipment. Workers operating construction equipment are most likely to be injured by collisions or overturning equipment. They might also be caught in equipment while it is left running. More than half of fatalities caused by run-overs or back-overs involved construction vehicles. Such collisions have been attributed to limited visibility around equipment, with statistics concluding that 29% of workers were cleaning or repairing, 28% walking along the road and 18% directing traffic. At the end of the day, ensuring everyone’s safety will keep employee morale up, costs down, and ensure deadlines are met efficiently. It’s best to think of safety as the umbrella that every other component of a job falls under. The principles of safety can be complex to breakdown, but we have arranged a couple of tips to help you improve safety for yourself and your workers as the case may be, strategic plan for safety includes:
- Provide proper attire: High visibility garments can be defined as clothing designed to make the wearer more visible, particularly to vehicular traffic and contain design properties making the wearer discernible against their work environment. High visibility garments generally have two design criteria: background fabric and retroreflective tape. The garment is composed primarily of a high-quality fluorescent fabric in colors including fluorescent yellow/green, fluorescent orange-red and fluorescent red. Retroreflective tape is added to areas such as the arms, torso and waist so as to identify the wearer as a “person” as opposed to a traffic control device such as a drum or sign. Do your research and outfit your team with the appropriate attire based on where they’re working and the time of day. There is attire for daylight visibility as well as three separate classes of nighttime attire. Choose wisely and don’t leave your team exposed.
- Make Your Team Accountable: Let your team know that they’re accountable for everything they do. Show them that every safety precaution they ignore will eventually come back to them and they’ll need to answer to it. This might be a challenging way to manage your workforce but once you’ve established that you take a hard line on safety and accountability then everything else will fall into its place. You want to instill in your team that they need to do the right thing especially when no one’s watching.
- Create a Pervasive Culture of Safety: Individuals who have been working in highway construction for long periods of time can become immune to the dangers and a bit too comfortable with all the sights and sounds and complacency is one of the top killers in construction. Creating a culture of safety can be as simple as holding regular safety seminars. Many companies hold these types of meeting twice a month. Daily meetings, huddles or toolbox talks at the beginning of each day and any time there is a task change on the job can help increase awareness and help create a culture that makes safety everyone’s responsibility.
- Creating a traffic control plan: The four critical areas that need a plan are advance areas in which drivers are first alerted to construction ahead; transition areas like lane closures; activity areas where construction is actually taking place and termination areas just past the construction zone. Once a plan is established, then crews need to aide strictly to it. Daily inspections are a must to make sure that controls like cones and barrels haven’t been pushed into the roadway and that signage is operating and is displaying the correct messaging. Crews need to pay special attention when new traffic patterns are introduced.
- Practice UV Safety: Working as part of a road crew means having very little reprieve from the hot sun. And a cloudless sky will do everything it can to deplete your energy, burn your skin, and severely dehydrate you. It’s no secret that there’s a culture of “manning up” in the construction industry. All that translates to is systematic neglect of one’s health. Heatstroke is no joke, and it’s only one danger caused by the sun. Every job site should also have a constant supply of fresh, cold water. Because your team is out in the sun all day, they run a much higher risk of suffering from dehydration, which is something not even regular consumption of water can prevent on the hottest days. With that in mind, encourage your team to bring with them, or even provide for them, packets of electrolyte mix that they can mix into their water. Electrolytes will hydrate you much faster and much more efficiently than just plain water.