The construction industry, including road construction work is, rated as of the most hazardous industrial sectors in many part of the world, including Nigeria. Road construction workers, for instance, are exposed to all sorts of hazards, which claim casualties in many cases.
Safety experts have been expressing concern that safety of workers in the construction industry is being handled with a laid-back attitude by their employers and the experts believe that this does not augur well to the image of the construction industry in general. In the light of this, lots of seminars, workshops and series of training are being organised by stakeholders in the safety industry, such as the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and so on, to ameliorate the case of rising hazards that have become the hallmark of the industry in Nigeria; and those groups have been making phenomenal impact through significant knowledge they impact on industrial safety.
The construction industry is plaqued with numerous safety and health problems that require special attention, most especially, in many developing nations including Nigeria.
In road construction duty, workers’ deaths are caused by roadway incidents involving motor vehicles. There are cases of collisions with another vehicle, collisions with objects other than vehicles and there are also non-collision incidents such as overturned or jackknifed vehicles. There are also cases of pedestrian vehicular incidents and many other hazardous cases.
According to constructconnect, the following safety tips would help in curbing cases of hazard among road construction workers:
Have a Plan
Every road construction project should have a transportation management plan. The plan should consist of a temporary traffic control plan to protect workers by safely conducting traffic around or through the work zone. You should also have a traffic control plan for inside the work zone that manages the flow of heavy equipment, construction vehicles, and workers.
Properly Control Traffic
The work zone should consist of an advanced warning area with warning signs alerting motorists of upcoming changes in driving conditions, a transition area using traffic control devices for lane closures and traffic pattern shifts, a buffer area, the work area and a termination area to allow traffic to resume back to normal and a sign indicating that the work zone has ended.
Create Separate Work Areas
Road construction work zones are busy areas usually with several work activities taking place at the same time. To avoid accidents, use cones, barrels, and barriers to clearly delineate specific areas of the work zone such as material storage, areas where heavy equipment is being used, vehicle parking and safe areas for workers on foot to move about in.
Wear Proper Safety Equipment
Proper safety equipment should be worn by all personnel inside the work zone. Personal protective equipment (PPE) including hard hats, steel-toed boots, highly visible clothing and, depending on the noise levels, hearing protection.
All highly visible clothing, whether it’s a vest, jacket or shirt should be bright fluorescent orange or lime/yellow and have visible reflective material especially if working at night.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Regardless of what your job duties entail in the work zone, you should always be mindful of what’s going on around you. Avoid walking behind any vehicles that may be backing up or into the swing radius of heavy equipment.
Whenever possible, face traffic while inside the work zone or have a spotter available when your back is turned. Spotters should also be used to monitor the movement of vehicles and heavy equipment inside the work zone in addition to monitoring traffic to alert workers to any potential dangers.
Avoid Blind Spots
Vehicles and heavy equipment are constantly moving about inside the work zone including dump trucks, compactors, pavement planers, excavators, pavers, and rollers. Operators should ensure that all mirrors and visual aid devices are attached and operating properly including backup alarms and lights.
If you are on foot and working near these machines while in operation remember that the driver has a limited line of sight. Always stay in visual contact with the driver. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you can’t see them then they probably don’t see you.
Have a Competent Person on Hand
A competent person should be onsite whenever work is being performed. A competent person is someone “capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings, or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” A competent person is needed to conduct hazard assessments and regular inspections of the work-site.
A competent person is also needed to select the appropriate class of PPE to be used by workers and to approve the appropriate types of traffic control devices. Workers should report any unsafe hazards or equipment to the competent person assigned to the work zone so that they can be corrected immediately.
Start Each Workday with a Safety Meeting
In addition to ensuring that all personnel at the job-site have the proper training required it is also a good idea to have a quick safety meeting before work begins. Since conditions can change greatly from day to day in the work zone workers should be briefed on the work activity scheduled each day and notified of all potential hazards. This is also a good time to ensure that all workers have and are wearing the proper PPE required for the work being done that day.
Have a Site Specific Safety Programme
Every road construction project is different and each work zone has its own unique hazards and challenges so creating a safety programme geared specifically for the site can go a long way in preventing accidents.
The site specific safety programme include identifying all hazards and plans to control and mitigate them, schedules to routinely inspect all equipment and material, a plan for first aid and emergency medical care in the event of an accident and safety training schedules for all employees.
Workers performing road construction are susceptible to over-exertion and heat-related illnesses. Asphalt absorbs 95% of the sun’s rays and asphalt temperatures can easily be 30° F or higher than the surrounding air temperature.
Workers should drink plenty of water or liquids high in electrolytes like sports drinks or coconut water. Workers should also get out of the heat and sun as much as possible especially on extremely hot days to avoid heatstroke, dehydration and heat exhaustion.
What other safety tips should workers performing road construction be aware of? Share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.