Contractors must plan for the worst

News June 20, 2003
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Even a quick review of the causes of injuries and fatalities for roadway construction workers leads us to one conclusion-most c

Even a quick review of the causes of injuries and fatalities for roadway construction workers leads us to one conclusion-most could be prevented.


The good news is most causes of injuries and fatalities can be reduced and perhaps eliminated with just a little more planning. And the news gets even better. The additional planning will actually save time and money.


According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were an average of 34 fatalities per 100,000 roadway construction workers between 1995 and 2000. For those same years, the fatality rate for general construction was only 16 deaths-less than half that of roadway construction. For general industry (trades other than construction and maritime) the average fatality rate for the same time period was only four deaths per 100,000 workers. Too many workers are being killed on the job in our industry.


In reviewing the causes of death for workers in roadway construction, one hazard jumps out-"struck by" incidents. Almost 45% of roadway construction fatalities occur when workers are run over or backed over-and not just by motorists who ignore the "Slow down, my daddy works here" signs. Construction vehicles and equipment cause half the struck-by fatalities.


For at least the past five years, a concept of "Internal Traffic Control" has been discussed among safety professionals as a means to reduce struck-by incidents. In short, this concept demands that contractors and state departments of transportation (DOTs) plan a traffic pattern for construction vehicles, dump trucks, equipment and workers much in the same manner as we currently plan for motorist traffic that will pass through the work zone. While the concept is sound, Internal Traffic Control Plans (ITCPs) are rare in the industry. This could be the result of a lack of understanding about the principle, the fact that ITCPs involve a new concept and many have yet to hear about it or a fear that ITCPs will cause more delays for the industry.


In truth, there really is not a good reason for failing to incorporate an ITCP. An ITCP need not be complex or expensive. It does require construction management to look at the jobsite, however, and make a plan to determine:

1. Where pedestrian workers will be located;

2. Where and how dump trucks and other vehicles will enter and exit the work area;

3. Where equipment will operate;

4. How all parties will communicate with one another;

5. Where to locate exclusive zones for workers and vehicles, so operators and workers know where they should and should not go; and

6. How the ITCP will be effectively communicated to all parties on the site.


For more on the story, read the July issue of ROADS&BRIDGES.


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