Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to attend the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) Annual Convention and Traffic Expo. One of the most impactful experiences we had while attending, was viewing the National Work Zone Memorial.
The National Work Zone Memorial was created in 2002 and is dedicated to all of the individuals who have tragically lost their lives in work zones, from workers and first responders to motorists and children. In an effort to showcase the stark reality of lives lost in work zones each year, each individual’s name is listed on the memorial. Eighteen names have been added to the list in 2019, and there are currently 1,473 names on the memorial in total. The National Work Zone Memorial is mobile and travels around the country to a variety of conferences, conventions, and expositions.
Viewing the memorial was a somber reminder that too many lives are lost in American work zones each year. We have a lot of work to do to improve work zone conditions and create a safer environment for flaggers, road workers, and drivers. Here are some ways that you can help create safer work zone conditions as a worker:
1. Make a Temporary Traffic Control Plan.
It’s critical to the safety of your work zone to have a temporary traffic control (TTC) plan that is practical to implement, even in worst-case scenarios. You should make a TTC plan for areas outside the work zone and areas inside the work zone. A TTC plan should be drafted by someone who has experience doing so and is, ideally, certified. Plans can vary in detail, but ultimately, the complexity of the plan should match the complexity of the work zone.
2. Use traffic control signs and barriers correctly.
Using proper signage to direct traffic and implementing clear barriers between the work zone and oncoming traffic, are two of the most important things you can do to create a safer work zone. You should have signs set up both in the work zone, and in an advanced warning area, so drivers know what to expect, and can be more alert. Signs are meant to send messages to drivers, using symbols, words, and arrows. If those messages are unclear, then drivers might get the wrong idea of what will be happening in the work zone, or the rules established therein. When oncoming traffic approaches a work zone, chances are, the drivers are feeling stressed, annoyed, or are distracted. If motorists can navigate the work zone clearly, everything will run smoother, and workers will remain safe.
3. Stay alert at all times.
After being on the job for hours, it might be tempting to slip into the monotony of the day. However, in a work zone, you never know what might happen. You should always be mindful of what is going on around you, from oncoming motorists and construction vehicles to your co-workers. Keep an eye out for any potential hazards or work zone violations so you can keep everyone safe. Your alertness and attention to detail could save lives.
4. Use an Automated Flagger Assistance Device (AFAD).
For work zones where traffic is reduced to one lane, utilizing an AFAD can make all of the difference. AFADs allow certified flaggers to stay out of the danger zone and effectively control traffic flow from a safe location. The certified flagger controlling the AFAD is able to keep a sharper eye on what is going on both inside and outside the work zone. AFADs are also more noticeable to oncoming traffic, which can prevent accidents and get the attention of potentially distracted drivers.