Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Worker Injuries From Vehicles and Equipment

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Summary Statement

A comprehensive study of fatalities and injuries in highway workzones and a set of measures that can be taken to reduce them.
April 20001

Activity area The portion of "the highway where the work takes place. It is comprised of the work space and the traffic space, and the buffer space" [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6C.06)].
Advance warning area The area in advance of the work zone where drivers are informed of what to expect. "The advance warning may vary from a single sign or rotating/strobe lights on a vehicle to a series of signs in advance of the temporary traffic control zone activity area" [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6C.04)].
Certification A process which assesses an individual's knowledge and skills to determine if the individual meets a minimum standard of qualification.
Channelizing devices "The function of channelizing devices is to warn road users of conditions created by work activities in or near the roadway and to guide road users. . . . They are also used to separate motor vehicle traffic from the work space, pavement drop-offs, pedestrian or bicycle paths, or opposing directions of motor vehicle traffic. . . . Channelizing devices include cones, tubular markers, vertical panels, drums, barricades, and temporary raised islands" [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6F.55)].
Chock A wedge or block for blocking the movement of a wheel.
Competent person "One who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working environments which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them" (29 CFR 1926 Subpart C).
Consensus standard "Any occupational safety and health standard, or modification thereof, which has been adopted and promulgated by a nationally recognized standards-producing organization under procedures whereby it can be determined by the Secretary [of Labor] that persons interested and affected by the scope or provisions of the standard have reached substantial agreement on its adoption [and] was formulated in a manner which afforded opportunity for diverse views to be considered . . ." (OSH Act, Sec-3).
Foot-candle One lumen per square foot.
High conspicuity tape Retroreflective marking material, usually white or an alternating red-white pattern, that is applied to the rear and sides of vehicles to create visual contrast and clearly delineate vehicle size.
High-visibility vest/apparel "Personal protective safety clothing intended to provide conspicuity during both daytime and nighttime usage" [ANSI/ISEA 1999].
Internal traffic control plan A traffic control plan developed to control the flow of construction workers, vehicles, and equipment within the work space.
Internal traffic control plan coordinator A person designated by the contractor as a competent person who has the ability to recognize hazards associated with the movement of construction vehicles, equipment, and personnel within the work space and has the authority to modify conditions to eliminate those hazards.
Lateral buffer space A "lateral buffer space may be used to separate the traffic space from the work space . . . [or a hazardous area], such as excavations or pavement drop-offs. A lateral buffer space also may be used between two travel lanes, especially [those carrying traffic in opposite directions]. The width of the lateral buffer space should be determined by engineering judgment" [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6C.06)].
Light balloon A self-inflating elliptical lighting fixture designed to produce uniform non-glare illumination.
Milling Process in which a rotating drum, equipped with special working tools, cuts the pavement to a predetermined depth and reduces the cuttings to a minimum size in the process. Also called cold planing [Webster 1995: p. 125].
Pedestrian A person traveling on foot, who may be a construction worker or a member of the public.
Pre-construction meeting A meeting between the owner's representatives and representatives for the contractor(s) to discuss their respective safety requirements and implementation of health and safety provisions pertinent to the work under contract [Hinze 1997: p. 102].
Pre-qualification A process by which only selected contractors that meet predetermined performance criteria are entitled to bid on a construction project. The contractor's safety performance is often one of the qualifying criteria [MacCollum 1995: p. 53-54].
Project supervisor Manages the activities at the construction site, schedules work crews and materials, and is responsible for keeping project on schedule and on budget.
Retroreflective material Retroreflective material reflects light back towards the source. For example, retroreflective material reflects vehicle headlights so that signs, safety clothing, and other safety devices appear more visible to drivers at night.
Senior project supervisor The senior project supervisor has final authority and responsibility for safety and health on the project, ensuring correction or abatement of hazards, monitoring for potentially hazardous conditions, determining that competent persons are designated by contractors, notifying responsible contractor of conditions that may cause injury or illness, and maintaining project safety and health records [ANSI A10.33-1992 (R1998)].
Site-specific hazard "Review of plans and specifications to identify the location and nature of assessment potential hazards..." [MacCollum 1995: p. 60].
Skilled construction trades A grouping of occupations that includes the traditional building trades, such as carpenters, painters, electricians, and cement finishers.
Taper "Tapers may be used in both the transition and termination areas. . . . Tapers are created using a series of channelizing devices and/or pavement markings to move traffic out of or into the normal path" [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6C.08)].
Temporary pavement markings Markings used until "the earliest date when it is practical and possible to install pavement markings that meet [the full MUTCD standards] for pavement markings." Normally, it should not be necessary to leave temporary markings in place for more than 2 weeks [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6F.66)].
Temporary traffic control plan "A temporary traffic control plan (TCP) describes temporary traffic control measures to be used for facilitating road users through a work zone. . . . [The plan] may range in scope from being very detailed, to simply referencing typical drawings contained in [the MUTCD], standard approved highway drawings and manuals, or specific drawings contained in contract documents" [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6C.01)].
Termination area "The termination area is used to return road users to their normal path. The termination area extends from the downstream end of the work area to the END ROAD WORK signs, if posted" [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6C.07)].
Toolbox meeting Toolbox meetings are typically short (10 to 30 minutes), and are held on a regular basis (weekly, or daily) to discuss safety rules, procedures, hazards, corrective actions, mishaps, and injury and illness prevention [Hinze 1997: p. 106].
Traffic control device "A traffic control device is a sign, signal, marking or other device placed on, over, or adjacent to a street or highway, pedestrian facility, or bike way (by authority of a public agency having jurisdiction) to regulate, warn, or guide traffic" [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: p. I-1)].
Traffic control supervisor A person designated by the contractor to assume overall responsibility for the safety of the work zone setup and conformance of the temporary traffic control devices with the TCP.
Traffic space The traffic space is the portion of the highway in which road users are routed through the activity area [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6C.06)].
Transition area "The transition area is that section of highway where road users are redirected out of their normal path" [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6C.05)].
Truck-mounted attenuator(TMA) A safety appliance mounted on the rear of a truck that dissipates the energy of a rear-end collision.
Worker on foot A worker on foot is any worker, regardless of task assignment, who is on the ground (standing, walking, or sitting) rather than inside a vehicle or piece of equipment.
Work space "The work space is that portion of the highway closed to road users and set aside for workers, equipment, material, and a shadow vehicle if one is used upstream. Work spaces are usually delineated for road users by channelizing devices, or to exclude vehicles and pedestrians, by temporary barriers. The work space may be stationary or move as the work progresses" [FHWA 2000 (MUTCD: Section 6C.06)].
Work zone The area between the first warning sign and the last traffic control device, as well as non-roadway areas (e.g., shoulders and drainages), and ancillary areas that serve as staging areas, or support areas for the work zone (e.g., temporary batch plants). This definition is broader than the work zone described in the MUTCD, which does not include ancillary areas that serve as staging areas, or support areas (e.g., temporary batch plants) for the work zone.

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