Construction, utility, and maintenance workers who spend time working on roadways depend on safety measures to prevent accidents. Work areas should be clearly marked with signs, lights, and pavement markings. Barriers, cones, drums, and other devices are also used to warn motorists of the work ahead.
Yet even with all of this diligence, from 2012-2016 there was a five percent increase in the average rate of annual work zone crashes across Pennsylvania. Drivers passing through work zones is only one hazard these workers face.
Workers injured while laboring in a highway work zone are generally eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits for their injuries.
How Work Zone Accidents Happen
The main reasons for work zone fatalities and injuries are construction equipment or vehicles. These can collide, run over, or fall onto a worker, or trap them inside. This can happen when the worker is directing traffic, repairing or cleaning the vehicle, or simply walking close by.
Other accident causes include overexertion, falls, harmful substance exposure, and general transportation accidents. Workers are also at risk for electrocutions if there are utility lines in the area; and flying and falling debris can also pose a threat of serious injuries.
The risk is even higher when it is dark out, particularly if the work area is not properly lighted. Poor weather conditions and traffic can also be problematic, especially for flaggers who might not be visible to drivers.
National Work Zone Awareness Week
National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) takes place from April 8 through 12 this year. It advocates for motorists to drive safely throughout all roadway work zones.
NWZAW kicks off on April 9, 11am at the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C. Roadway workers across the U.S. are encouraged to wear bright orange to show their support on Wednesday April 10 for Go Orange Day.
The NWZAW website offers free guidelines and other resources for participating in this event.
Promoting Year-Round Safety
Raising awareness through NWZAW is a great start, while understanding and adhering to safety guidelines can keep construction workers safe year-round.
Here are some recommendations:
- Be visible. Workers should wear brightly colored clothing and hats. Reflective and fluorescent materials are essential when working in low light.
- Use spotters. Workers need to labor together to prevent contact with vehicles or equipment. Many companies use hand signals, and these should be well understood before any work starts.
- Be cautious around construction vehicles. Any worker that is operating a construction vehicle must wear a seat belt. Parking brakes are necessary when the worker is not using the vehicle, especially if it is on an incline.
- Be aware of surroundings. Workers should always check around them before moving from a position, and avoid areas where walking is not permitted. They should maintain safe distances from suspended equipment, including booms. When approaching machinery in use, the operator should be signaled to turn the equipment off.
These are a sample of the many guidelines that can prevent work area accidents.
To further promote safe work areas, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf signed the Automated Speed Enforcement in Work Zones law to discourage drivers from speeding in work zones. Fines for a violation start at $75.
Pittsburgh Work Injury Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Represent Construction Workers Injured in Work Zones
If you have suffered a work zone injury, call a Pittsburgh work injury lawyer at AlpernSchubert P.C. for a free case evaluation. We are dedicated to helping our clients get the compensation they deserve. Call us at 412-765-1888 or contact us online for a free consultation. With offices located in Pittsburgh, we serve clients in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, Washington County, and Western Pennsylvania.