Road construction workers in California and across the U.S. are not getting the protection they deserve. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have both shown that the number of work zone fatalities is not going down despite the best efforts to improve safety.
The majority of work zone fatalities involve vehicles entering into the work zone, referred to as intrusions. In 2018, the Center for Construction Training and Research published a study saying that out of the 267 vehicle-related fatalities that occurred in work zones between 2011 and 2016, 61.4% were caused by forward-moving vehicles and 24.7% by backover incidents.
A number of factors are involved here, such as speeding and distracted driving on the part of those who pass through a work zone. Experts also mention the increase in roadside projects and the greater number of cars on the road due to stable fuel prices.
Employers must do their part in keeping their roadside construction workers safe. They could implement a traffic control plan that covers both internal and external vehicles. They should have periodic inspections of the work zone and make equipment operators conduct a “circle check” before using that equipment. Workers must wear high-visibility clothing as per ANSI/ISEA standards. Concrete barriers may be added for long-term projects.
Roadside construction workers who survive a vehicle-related incident may pursue workers’ compensation benefits and be reimbursed for their medical expenses and for a portion of the income lost during their recovery. When workers are killed on the job, the family can file for death benefits under the employer’s insurance coverage. In either situation, it may be advisable to have an attorney’s assistance throughout the process.