Working on a road or highway always comes with some risks. Safety equipment helps minimize the danger to workers and passing motorists, but improper usage or setup can negate these benefits. Correctly utilizing your safety equipment is critical to ensure your team's worksite remains safe, whether you're operating for weeks at a time or just for a few hours.
If you want to do everything you can to make your work zone a safe and productive place, these three tips will help to guarantee you're getting the most from your safety equipment.
1. Focus on Personal Safety Equipment
While much of the safety equipment surrounding a work zone exists to alert drivers and provide ample time to react, they still need to be able to see your workers. Not every worker near a roadway can perform their duties while also giving full attention to nearby traffic, which means these workers rely on drivers to avoid them. Personal safety equipment plays a critical role in making this possible.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) assigns three classes to high-visibility gear in ascending order of conspicuity. Always use Class 3 gear when working at night, in areas of high traffic, or anywhere workers cannot pay full attention to the roadway. It's equally critical that personal equipment remains clean and in good condition to provide maximum visibility.
2. Understand Warning Distances and Regulations
Drivers always require advance warning before approaching a work zone, even in rural or low-speed areas. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) offers recommended warning sign spacing for various conditions and speeds. When purchasing equipment for your work zones, always ensure your workers have enough signage, traffic cones, and other devices to meet these requirements.
As with personal safety equipment, always keep signs and cones clean to maintain maximum visibility. Replace damaged equipment as necessary. Cones or signs with cracks, stains that make text illegible, or other severe issues can impact drivers' likelihood of noticing and reacting to work zone conditions in time.
3. Choose Appropriate Traffic Control Devices
Typical work zone traffic control devices include cones, barrels, drums, barricades, delineators, etc. These devices can route or redirect traffic as necessary, but it's critical to use the appropriate equipment for the situation. Additionally, your crews should never modify this equipment as drivers may not notice or understand the modifications.
Remember that work zone safety is a full-time job, and safety equipment is critical to avoid creating an unreasonably hazardous environment. Keep these tips in mind and always follow OSHA guidelines whenever working in an area with vehicle traffic. If you need work zone equipment, reach out to a supplier in your area.