Road Workers

Staying Safe In Construction Work Zones: A Guide For Workers

Working in a construction work zone on public roadways can be challenging and hazardous. Road workers face numerous risks, including the danger of being struck by vehicles, harassment from drivers, exposure to the elements, and the risk of being struck by flying objects. To ensure the safety and well-being of road workers, it’s essential to understand these hazards and take appropriate precautions. Here’s a guide to help road workers stay safe while working in construction work zones:

1. Be Vigilant of Moving Vehicles:

One of the most significant hazards road workers face is the risk of being struck by moving vehicles. To minimize this risk:

  • Ensure that the work zone signage has been set up according to the appropriate Traffic Control Manual.  The Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Transportation & Infrastructure’s Traffic Control Manual outlines signage requirements for work on highways, while cities such as Grand Falls-Windsor and Corner Brook have their own manuals directing sign set-up for work within their municipality.
  • Use barriers, cones, and signs to create a buffer zone between the work area and traffic.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and never turn your back to oncoming traffic.
  • Wear high-visibility clothing and reflective gear to ensure visibility to drivers, especially in low-light and foggy conditions.
  • Designate a spotter to watch for approaching vehicles and provide warnings to workers if necessary.
  • Always have an escape route identified.

2. Respond Appropriately to Harassment:

Unfortunately, road workers may also face harassment or aggression from drivers frustrated by delays or road closures. To handle these situations safely:

  • Remain calm and professional in all interactions with drivers.
  • If confronted by an aggressive or hostile driver, avoid escalating the situation and seek assistance from law enforcement if necessary.
  • Report incidents of harassment or aggression to your supervisor or project manager for further action.

3. Protect Yourself from Outdoor Hazards:

Working outdoors exposes road workers to various environmental hazards, including extreme temperatures, inclement weather, and exposure to the sun. To protect yourself:

  • Wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, including sunscreen, and light weight, light coloured clothing in hot weather, and warm layers in cold weather.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, especially in hot weather.
  • Take regular breaks in shaded areas to rest and cool down during hot weather.
  • Follow safety protocols for working in adverse weather conditions, such as heavy rain or high winds, and seek shelter if necessary.

4. Guard Against Flying Objects:

Road construction work often involves activities that can produce flying debris or objects, such as drilling, cutting, or blasting. To prevent injuries from flying objects:

  • Stand in a location where the potential to be hit by flying debris is reduced.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety glasses, hard hats, and gloves, to shield yourself from flying debris.
  • Use barriers or screens to contain debris generated by construction activities and prevent it from endangering workers or passing vehicles.
  • Communicate with your team members to ensure everyone is aware of potential hazards and takes appropriate precautions.

Working in a construction work zone on public roadways presents numerous hazards for road workers. By staying vigilant, responding appropriately to harassment, protecting yourself from outdoor hazards, and guarding against flying objects, you can help ensure your safety and well-being on the job. Remember to follow safety protocols and guidelines provided by your employer or project manager at all times. Your safety is paramount, and taking proactive measures can help prevent accidents and injuries in construction work zones.

Disclaimer: The materials above are provided to assist organizations with the development of their Occupational Health and Safety Program.  Companies should review and update materials to reflect their unique operations. The information presented is intended for general use and may not apply to every circumstance. It is not a definitive guide to government regulations and does not relieve persons using this information from their responsibilities under applicable legislation. The NLCSA does not guarantee the accuracy of, nor assume liability for, the information presented here.