The zone defense

June 5, 2017

Training today’s workforce to meet tomorrow’s needs

Years ago, you’d have to drive 50 miles on the interstate to see one.

Now, it seems, you can’t go five miles without getting tangled up in one.

They are roadway work zones, and they are here to stay for years to come, as part of the American landscape.

The significant increase in the amount of work that must be done to repair, upgrade or in many cases rebuild our roadways is due to several factors.

Since the majority of our nation’s roadways were constructed over 50 years ago, they are in desperate and constant need of repair or upgrade to meet the demands of today’s road users. Perhaps the biggest demand for better roadways comes from America’s motorists themselves, who are tired of wasting time and fuel sitting in traffic, hitting potholes and being late for work. The American road user continues to demand a high level of mobility, safety and efficiency during their travels, and the roadway safety industry is working extremely hard every day to meet those never-ending demands.

Federal action, such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), and the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) have all given the roadway-safety industry much-needed funding to keep up with user demands, but the fight for funding is an ongoing debate on Capitol Hill.

One of the positive outcomes of this story is the men and women who have returned to the work force. With new workers comes a need for more cost-effective, quality training to ensure not only worker safety, but safety for all road users who enter the work zone. Practically any reputable study you find will clearly show that proper roadway safety training and the utilization of best safe practices while on the job save lives.

Roadway and roadside safety are so important that they are now mainstays in the federal funding process. So much so that each of the last four reauthorization funding mechanisms included some form of roadway-safety training. The last round of federal funding allocated over $11.2 million in roadway-safety training grants.

Reductions in work-zone fatality rates support this increase in funding for training. In 2006, when the first FHWA Work Zone Safety Grant was awarded, the U.S. averaged roughly 1,000 work-zone fatalities annually. When you fast-forward to 2016, this average is down to 700 annually. While there are many factors at play, the fact of the matter is that training saves lives.

Work-zone fatalities are an unfortunate yet avoidable aspect of this industry. When these cases go to litigation, one the first questions that always comes up is, “Was the worker properly trained?” Making sure your workers receive adequate training is imperative to their health and safety, and critical to your organization’s success. Workers must have the proper credentials to do their job. This is where ATSSA comes in.

Since 1969, ATSSA has been an advocate for roadway infrastructure safety, becoming one of the industry’s primary resources for roadway infrastructure safety knowledge exchange and a recognized voice and authority on roadway safety. From temporary traffic control to guardrail installation training to incident management, ATSSA offers a wide variety of roadway safety courses to suit your organization’s needs. Our training courses are taught by industry experts with decades of experience and knowledge to deliver an essential learning experience. ATSSA also is the leading certification and training organization for road, traffic and highway professionals looking to take the next step in their careers by adding an ATSSA certification designation to their resume.

About The Author: Scheyder is director of training for ATSSA.

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