Road workers install, maintain, and improve our roads to keep them safe. However, more than 100 California road workers are killed each year while doing this work. Road work hazards such as moving vehicles and construction equipment require workers to stay alert and follow safety procedures.
Before conducting roadwork jobs, review the required tasks, location, and time of day to determine the necessary equipment, personnel, and materials. Plan how you will control traffic along the road and within the construction zone. Have enough trained flaggers to complete your work. Gather the signs, cones, flags, drums, and/or message boards that you will need for the job. Inspect your signage to make sure it is in good repair and highly visible. Clean or discard dirty equipment with limited visibility.
Get training on traffic control and safe work practices. Set up and maintain your roadside work zone properly. Get training on the equipment that you will use and drive, from the smallest tool to the largest moving vehicle. Operate tools and equipment according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Know the hazards of the chemicals and materials that you use.
Get training on the personal protective equipment (PPE) that you are required to wear, including its uses and limitations. Wear high visibility garments on your legs and chest. Wear your assigned PPE, including a hardhat, safety shoes, and work gloves. Consider earplugs or muffs, safety glasses, and fall protection depending on the job task.
In the work zone, watch for fast-moving motorists and large construction equipment. Set up parking zones that have safe entrances and exits. Group your vehicles on the same side of the road for visibility. Set up the job site and tasks to minimize the need to cross the active road. Set up traffic lanes within the jobsite for clear access and visibility.
Work facing traffic and stay alert, or station a lookout to watch oncoming traffic. Have an escape route and/or plan of action in place. Watch for backing vehicles because the driver often has a limited view. Practice good communication and make sure all vehicles have backup alarms. If you are flagging, acting as a lookout, or traffic director, remain alert. Do not drink, smoke, or have a conversation while performing these duties.
Road work is a physical job requiring strength and endurance. Stay fit so your body can do the work. Keep your back straight and use proper lift techniques. Use anti-vibration gloves when working with vibrating equipment. Take frequent microbreaks every 30 minutes to stretch and relax your muscles. Rotate your tasks during the day to use different muscle groups.
Road work occurs in all types of weather and throughout the year. Wear appropriate clothing for the climate. Light colored layers and sunscreen protect you during the hot months while layers of moisture-wicking clothing protect you in the cold. Get plenty of rest, eat right, and drink enough fluids to stay healthy and alert on the job.
Take safety on the road!