Construction Safety Hits the Road
- By Jerry Laws
- May 01, 2004
PRIME paving season is here for much of the United States, causing highway
work zones to sprout and renewing efforts to spread the gospel of safety to
workers and motorists alike. To publicize National Work Zone Awareness Week 2004
in April, sponsors put a desk out on I-95 to show that real, live workers are at
risk inside the zones.
Work zone safety unites the government, labor, and management. OSHA signed an
alliance last fall with The Roadway Work Zone Safety and Health Coalition, which
includes the Laborers' International Union of North America, the National
Asphalt Pavement Association, the International Union of Operating Engineers,
NIOSH, and the 5,000 members of the American Road & Transportation Builders
Association--2,000 of which are contractors. The partners agreed to develop
hazard awareness training and to educate non-English-speaking construction
workers about safe practices in work zones.
ARTBA turned a $160,000 Susan Harwood grant from OSHA into a four-hour safety
seminar this year and is taking it on the road to 15 states. ARTBA Safety
Director Jerry Teeler said the seminar tackles the six highest priorities
identified by CNA, one of the biggest U.S. construction insurers, as costing the
most in claims: material handling, struck-by incidents, mounting and dismounting
from equipment, on-road vehicle accidents, caught-in injuries/pinch points, and
repetitive motion injuries.
Teeler agreed there's much work to be done to raise road construction
workers' use of PPE such as high-vis apparel. "Visibility is absolutely
essential," he said before heading to the first stop, Orlando, in March.
"Another thing we're looking to do with this training is to get those (PPE
usage) numbers up with the people who are doing the work. We try to get that
done in the management commitment part of it."
Teeler joined the association in February after working in safety management
positions for contractor firms in North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia,
Ohio, and Mexico. His fluency in Spanish is a big asset as he takes the seminar
to New England this month, then to Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Washington state, and Illinois. "Hopefully
we can extend the grant and keep it going beyond the 15 states," he said.
Many people put their sweat and money into work zone safety. ARTBA produced
an awareness program for teens and new drivers and delivered 5,000 copies
recently to safe driving groups. The association also continues to award
scholarships to youngsters of workers killed in highway zones. As 2004's paving
season dawned, about 30 kids in a dozen states had received them.
This article originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.
Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.