The Risks at Roadside Construction Zones


Last winter, a construction worker was laying a pipeline on McGinnis Ferry Road in Alpharetta when his coworker accidently ran over him with a backhoe. The worker’s tragic death highlights the dangers of roadside construction.

Roadside construction crews place themselves in constant peril to build and repair our state’s infrastructure. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 40,000 people are injured and 1,095 are killed in crashes in work zones every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 130 construction workers were killed in roadside accidents in 2012.

Workers who risk injuries in roadside construction zone projects include:

  • Construction laborers
  • Highway maintenance workers
  • Tractor-trailer truck drivers
  • First-line supervisors
  • Construction equipment operators

Several factors contribute to the dangers prevalent in the industry, such as:

  • Use of heavy machinery on the job
  • Proximity to speeding, reckless motorists
  • Poor visibility such as rain, darkness or bright sun
  • Inadequate safety training of workers
  • Insufficient safety equipment
  • Improper procedures and protocols to avoid accidents

Employers can reduce injuries by taking standard precautions. Among other safety procedures, OSHA recommends these basic critical elements to prevent roadside construction injuries:

  • Train each worker in the unique aspects of working next to traffic and with the specific tools of her or his particular job.
  • Require workers who are placed at risk by roadway traffic or construction machinery to wear high-visibility safety clothing selected by the designated competent person on the project.
  • Place temporary traffic barriers along the workspace.
  • Reduce traffic speed through such techniques as regulatory speed zones, funneling, lane reduction, flaggers and the presence of uniformed police officers.
  • Plan the internal work area to reduce equipment backing-up maneuvers that put workers at risk.
  • Designate a competent person to assess basic hazards on the worksite and to take appropriate corrective measures when necessary.

OSHA continues to investigate the death in Alpharetta last year, but safety did not appear to be a priority to the employer D & H Construction. Records indicate that, during the past decade, the company chalked up 12 violations and nearly $43,000 in fines at various sites.

Topics:  Construction Accidents, Construction Workers, Safety Precautions, Workplace Injury

Published In: Personal Injury Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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