Larger Penalties in Work Zones
August 25, 2018
According to NIOSH, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, approximately 100 workers are killed and thousands of others sustain serious injuries as a result of accidents that occur in active work zones every year. Although some Pennsylvania residents may not be aware, state law allows for increased penalties for accidents and other violations that happen in work zones.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that Pennsylvania work zones are especially hazardous for highway workers; in fact, it is the third highest ranked state for fatalities in road construction sites.
Work Zone Safety Facts
Work zones are defined as any area on a road, highway or street where maintenance, utility, and/or construction work is being performed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finds that the majority of fatal work zone accidents are the result of pedestrian vehicular incidents, which is an accident that takes place between a worker and an automobile.
Although the majority of fatal and non-fatal worker accidents in work zones involve automobiles, other kinds of vehicles can also inflict permanent or deadly damage. The BLS reports that other vehicles most often involved in work zone-related accidents are usually:
- Dump trucks and pickup trucks;
- Semi, tractor-trailer, and tanker trucks;
- Sports utility vehicles, or SUVs, and:
- Passenger and/or delivery vans
Pennsylvania’s Efforts to Limit Work Zone Accidents
In order to limit preventable work zone accidents and to increase safety efforts that effectively protect at-risk workers, drivers are face more severe penalties for behaviors that create roadway hazards. Here are just a few examples of the rules, as well as what some of the consequences for not following them:
- Whether or not a work zone is active, every driver must turn his or her headlights on. The fine for not doing this is $25;
- Penalties in active work zones are doubled for certain violations, including but not limited to driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, speeding, and the failure to obey traffic devices. If a violation can result in jail time, the period of time may also be doubled, and:
- If a driver is convicted of failing to drive at a safe speed, gets into an accident or is ticketed for driving more than 11mph over the posted speed limit in a work zone area, it results in an automatic license suspension for 15 days.
There are increased penalties in work zones because there are greater dangers. Working on a street, road or highway is highly dangerous, especially because there is no physical barrier between workers and thousands of vehicles.
How to Make Sure Workers Stay Safe in Work Zones
The most important thing a driver can do when entering a work zone is to decrease his or her speed and obey all posted instructions and traffic devices. Speed limits in work zones are lower not only to encourage drivers to be more aware of their surroundings, but also so that in the case of a collision there is a greater chance that the worker – as well as the driver – survive the incident.
Here are some other helpful safety tips on how drivers can do their part to be cautious in work zones, as well as what steps employers should take to keep every worker safe:
- Drivers should avoid distractions like eating, changing radio stations, looking at or using a cell phone, etc.;
- When driving, do not tailgate other vehicles, and always keep a safe distance that allows for adequate reaction times;
- Employers should provide high-visibility clothing to workers, as well as other protective equipment like hard hats;
- Whenever it is possible, a physical barrier should be installed between workers and vehicles, and:
- Every worker must be trained on work zone hazards in addition to safe work practices
Even when precautions are taken, accidents still happen. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident that happened in a work zone, please contact a representative at our firm who can help answer your questions and guide you through the complex legal process.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured in Work Zones
At Galfand Berger, our personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia are experienced in representing injury victims. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.