A petition submitted to California's Workplace Safety Standards Board that seeks to double the amount of illumination required at night on highway work zones has gained support by the state's department of transportation (Caltrans). Submitted by a former Caltrans construction safety coordinator, "the petition seeks to increase the minimum illumination intensity level from five foot candles to 10 foot candles," said Jesus Vargas of Caltrans.
A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Sept. 18 in Oakland, Calif., according to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board.
More than 90% of Caltrans contracts in metropolitan areas require night work schedules. In some areas, the traffic densities are among the highest in the world.
Caltrans officials recognize that sometimes contractors do not bring enough light standards to illuminate people working on the fringes on a work zone. "The agency is testing some new lighting systems for use in work zones," Vargas said.
The petition also says, "the current standard for minimum illumination was adopted when highway construction work was usually done during the day and daytime traffic densities were low. Current industry practice dictates that, in some situations, the highway construction workers perform their tasks in proximity to passing traffic."
Modern-day nighttime highway construction work has become increasingly complex. In some cases, there is continuous entering and exiting of construction traffic in long, narrow areas adjacent to high-speed highway traffic. Under these conditions, the current standard is not adequate for illuminating the large expansive areas and providing early warning to approaching motorists that workers are present in the vicinity.