National Work Zone Awareness Week: April 26-30 April 22, 2021
More than 27,000 Americans died in work zones nationwide during a 35-year period, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). In 2019 alone, 842 workers, pedestrians, and drivers were fatally injured in work zone automobile crashes. No matter how experienced a driver may be, driving through a work zone is hazardous. In order to help raise awareness on the dangerous conditions found in highway construction zones, Michigan’s Department of Transportation (MDOT) is hosting this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week, which takes place between April 26 and 30. The annual campaign’s goal is to “achieve zero deaths” on roadway work zones and is promoting that goal with this year’s theme, which is: Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.
Statistics on Work Zone Accidents
Although work zone deaths were on a downward trend between 2008 and 2014, they have been steadily increasing ever since. Here is a breakdown of the most recent numbers on deadly work zone accidents from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, or ARTBA. In 2019 there were:
- 762 fatal crashes that resulted in a total of 842 deaths
- 247 of these crashes involved trucks
- 3 of the collisions involved buses
- 135 construction workers were fatally injured in the crashes
- There were 133 pedestrian fatalities
When it comes to construction worker crash-related injuries and deaths, certain states have higher accident numbers than others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top six most deadly states for highway construction workers are Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, California, and Tennessee. As you can see, workers in highway construction zones risk their lives simply by going to work every single day. Even non-fatal collisions can cause devastating life-changing injuries, like broken bones, traumatic brain injury or concussion, internal bleeding, spinal cord injuries or paralysis, loss of limbs, and other permanent disabilities.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that highway construction zone workers face an array of job-specific hazards. Here are a few examples:
- Workers who operate heavy industrial machinery or construction vehicles incur collision risks as well as the risk of injury resulting from equipment overturn or being caught in between moving parts
- Workers face hazards associated with limited or poor visibility, poor lighting, inclement weather, and heavy traffic congestion
- Close proximity to vehicles that are speeding or driving aggressively
- Flaggers and other on-foot workers also have minimal distance between themselves and passing vehicles and/or construction equipment
Campaign Goals for Preventing Work Zone Accidents
The plan for protecting workers and non-workers in construction roadway zones is two-fold, as this year’s theme highlights. It involves not only driving safely but also working safely. Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) guidelines, employers must implement a variety of control measures to mitigate the known hazards associated with working in active highway work zones. These federally-mandated control measures include:
- Traffic controls like concrete, cones, barriers, sand, crash cushions, barrels, and delineator posts. These methods help prevent motorists from driving into or through active work zones
- Signage that alerts drivers that they are about to enter a work zone and instructs them to follow paths away from workers
- Provide adequate lighting for workers
- Make sure to train and certify flaggers on authorized signaling methods. They should also wear high visibility, fluorescent clothing. Employers need to provide workers with garments marked with performance class 2 or 3, which makes them visible of distances up to 1,000 feet
- Illuminate flagger stations for improved visibility
- Use seat belts and rollover protection on all construction vehicles and equipment as stated by manufacturer guidelines
Employers who implement effective control methods to reduce known work zone-related risks are not the only line of defense against preventable crashes – so are drivers. PennDOT, or the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, recommends that when approaching a work zone, drivers:
- Stay alert and pay attention to flaggers and posted signs
- Turn on headlights if signs instruct you to do so
- Obey reduced work zone posted speed limits
- Avoid all distractions, like cell phones, eating, and drinking
- Use four-way flashers if you are stopped or are traveling slowly
- Maintain a safe distance around other vehicles
Injured in a Work Zone?
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your injury, you may be able to file a third-party liability and/or workers’ compensation claim. If your injuries resulted from your employer’s failure to provide a safe work environment, it is advisable to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to injured workers. Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, however, third-party liability claims apply to instances where an individual or entity separate from the employer is responsible for causing the injured party’s injuries. For example, if a truck driver hits a worker in a roadway work zone, an experienced attorney may be able to prove that not only is the driver responsible for the worker’s injuries, but also the trucking company and/or the people who loaded and/or inspected the truck. An attorney can examine your work zone accident from every angle and assist in determining liability and fault.
If you are a worker who was injured in a highway construction work zone, someone at our firm can help. To learn more, contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
Galfand Berger LLP has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading, and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.