Keeping Your Road Workers Safe This Winter: Here’s What You Can Do
November 21st marked the 26th annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims and the beginning of a new Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030. With this in mind, we wanted to put special emphasis on road constructions crews and what employers can do to help keep them safe – particularly now that the days are shorter and it is getting darker earlier.
Every year in Canada, dozens of road crew workers are killed in vehicular accidents, and hundreds more are injured. But there are things that employers can do to help mitigate the risks.
Here are some of our top tips for keeping your workers safe:
Have a transportation management plan
You should always have a transportation management plan for your road construction project. This is the plan that you will use to alert drivers that there is a construction zone and help them safely navigate around or through it. Your plan should also manage the flow of any heavy equipment and your workers.
Ensure that you are giving vehicles clear advanced warnings through the use of signs, barrels, and other traffic control devices. As the days get shorter, the visibility of these devices become increasingly important – lights and reflective surfaces will be visible to drivers from farther away and help keep your crew safe.
Create separate areas of work
Depending on the project, you may have several things happening on your worksite at once. You can help to avoid accidents by creating separate work zones through the use of cones and barriers. For example, you might have a specific area for storing materials and other areas where heavy equipment is being used.
Ensure your crew has the proper safety equipment
It is imperative that all of your workers on the job site are wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job. This may include reflective vests, steel-toed boots, hard hats, etc. Clothing should be highly visible (bright orange/yellow/lime), particularly if your crew is working after dark, and it should meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Class 2 or 3 standards.
Always have a trained safety officer on hand
Whenever work is being performed, you should have a competent person on hand who can identify safety hazards, dangerous working conditions and who is able to select the appropriate PPE and traffic control devices.
Workers should be able to report any unsafe conditions to this person so that the issue can be corrected immediately.
Have safety meetings at the start of each shift.
When working outdoors, conditions can change from day to day, so it is a good idea to begin each shift with a safety meeting. During this meeting, you should brief your workers on what is scheduled for the day and make them aware of any potential hazards. You should also use this time to ensure everyone has the proper PPE for their shift.
Have a site-specific safety program
Since each road construction job is different, it is a good idea to have a site-specific safety program in place for each worksite. This program should identify any hazards and include plans to mitigate them. The program should also include scheduled inspections of equipment and a plan for emergency medical treatment if necessary.
It is the responsibility of every employer to do everything possible to ensure a safe work environment for their employees. So, in honour of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, take some time to review your policies and practices to help ensure the safety of your team.
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In addition to our disability management and return to work programs, we also offer services that can assist you in developing a strategic approach to injury management. Contact us today to learn what we can do for your company.