248680 Training for safer roadway work zones: A history of safety program effectiveness

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thomas Estabrook, PhD , The New England Consortium, University of Massachusetts - Lowell, Lowell, MA
Bridget E. McGuiness, CET , The New England Consortium, University of Massachusetts - Lowell, Lowell, MA
Roadway work zones, especially prominent with the upsurge of road construction projects during the past two years, are hazardous areas for workers and motorists alike. Nationally, work zone fatalities (motorists and workers) nearly doubled from 1996 to 2002, after which they declined significantly. The rise in fatalities was due in part to distracted drivers, lack of good safety systems, a greater number of work sites, and an increase in younger and older drivers on the road. The decline in fatalities owes to increased awareness, better enforcement, and improved safety measures. This paper explores the impact of education and training in improving health and safety in roadway work zones over the past 20 years. We examine national and state safety data and programs, as well as stories and experiences from the field in Massachusetts, as related in dozens of work zone safety awareness classes for municipal and state workers. Anecdotal evidence from trainee experience suggests that, despite ongoing awareness campaigns, there is: great difficulty in applying effective safety controls, in part due to a serious lack of resources, training and commitment in municipal and state organizations regarding work zone safety; a need for far more extensive motorist education; and persisting construction-related injuries, fatalities, and near-misses in work zones. Roadway work zones continue to be particularly hazardous work sites that demand concerted buy-in of all stakeholders (management and work crews, police, utilities, and government funding agencies) to ensure that proper work zone safety systems are implemented. This is a huge challenge.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe three nationwide trends in roadway work zone accidents, 1990-2010. 2. Describe three challenges to implementing effective work zone safety programs. 3. Identify three ways that training programs have an impact on work zone safety.

Keywords: Workplace Safety, Training

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a health and safety educator on a long-standing worker health and safety training project, conducting training on a wide range of safety topics, including work zone safety, hazardous materials safety, emergency preparedness, confined space entry, and construction safety.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.