An employer’s responsibility to his employees is not only to pay them the right salary and provide compensation and benefits such as social security and health insurance. An employer must also ensure that his workers are safe and healthy while doing their jobs. According to a Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report, of the 4,674 worker fatalities in the private sector in 2017, 20.7% or 971 were in construction. This number could have been prevented if these workers’ employers had ensured their safety and protection by making them wear safety vests and employing someone to hold up handheld safety flags around the work area. The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also showed that falls, getting struck by an object, electrocution, and machinery handling accidents accounted for more than half of the construction-related deaths in 2017. They call it the “Fatal Four.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the U.S. Department of Labor has already released its general recommendations for workers’ safety in construction and roadside industries. It recommends the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all response, recovery tasks, and operations in any hazardous work zones and traffic control.
Employers must provide the following PPE: hard hat to prevent overhead impact and electrical hazards, appropriate gloves for handling debris with sharp edges or hazardous chemicals, eye protection with shields, protective footwear, and respiratory protection such as N, R, or P95 and filtering facepieces to be used against dusts, dried mud, dirt, silt, and even mold.
Understanding the Safety Needs in a Work Area
Any good employer seeks to find out the circumstances of the work zone to create a plan that will ensure the safety and security of the workers. Every construction or roadside project must have a “transportation management plan,” wherein there will be temporary control of traffic in the surroundings of the work zone. This will allow for the management of the flow of traffic caused by the workers, construction vehicles, and heavy equipment.
There should be advanced warning signals that will alert incoming motorists (and even the workers) about the work being done in the area. The employers must ensure that the traffic control devices, such as barrels, cones, signals, and barriers, comply with the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), as well as with any state regulatory requirements.
Identifying the Potential Hazards on the Road
Each roadside work is unique, so it is important to establish where your work area will be. Is it near a busy street? Will there be pedestrians passing through the zone? What type of road, the volume of traffic, and visibility should your workers expect? All of these can increase the potential risks that your workers must take when doing roadside construction.
Visit the roadside construction site before you begin with the project. This will give you a good idea on how to set up your traffic control scheme. Also, you have to list down the risk factors involved in working roadside. This is to make your workers more aware of the risks they are taking to do the job. By giving them an overview of the risks involved in working on the project, they will be more vigilant to watch out for overhead cables, railway crossings, and the traffic situation in the work zone.