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The dangers of road construction work

Road construction workers face considerable risk of suffering on-the-job injuries. Several factors associated with the road construction industry can increase the risk of injury or death.

One well-documented cause of injury comes from crashes on roads with active construction zones. Construction vehicles backing into workers, automobile drivers failing to heed reduced speed signs and other serious negligence cause thousands of injuries every year.

Statistics on road construction injuries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that "639 workers were killed while working at a road construction site" between 2003 and 2007. Almost half of the fatalities occurred due to vehicles or mobile equipment striking the workers (interestingly, equipment was cited much more often than motor vehicles as the cause).

While there are more safety procedures in place and better signage than ever before, the dangers remain a real and consistent concern. On average, 20,000 road construction workers suffer injuries every year.

How to protect road construction workers

As roads and bridges age, cities and states continue to invest in rebuilding and repairing highways, roads and bridges. Rather than closing roads, work often occurs while they remain open.

The Federal Highway Administration offers several suggestions to help protect road construction workers:

  • Improve worker training
  • Ensure all workers wear high-visibility apparel at all times
  • Improve lighting in road construction zones
  • Create positive separation, including temporary traffic barriers, between the road and the construction zone
  • Encourage the use of special devices such as ramble strips and spotters
  • Increase the presence of law enforcement in road construction zones

Each of us can also help protect road construction workers by the following efforts:

  • Never walk in road construction areas
  • Reduce speed in construction zones and keep an eye out for workers near the road
  • Watch for backing road construction vehicles

What should I do if I was injured while working in road construction?

Injuries and fatalities to road construction workers occur for a variety of reasons. Examples include equipment operators failing to exercise proper safety before backing up and automobile crashes caused by drivers failing to abide by road construction safety laws and guidelines.

If you or a loved one has been injured, you have rights. Alert your employer to the injury and seek the help of an attorney to learn about your options under workers' compensation laws.

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