Traffic Control Safety

When road workers build, maintain, repair, or conduct other work on public streets or highways, they must be protected from traffic or haulage hazards. A variety of traffic control measures such as signs, lights, and other devices, along with continuous patrol, detours, and barricades can be used as traffic control measures, depending on the type of road and the work being done.

When you start work near a road, evaluate the work site for hazards. Look for blind corners, how heavy the traffic is, and how fast it flows. Note the weather, temperature, and visibility and how they will affect the work that you are doing and how motorists will respond. Plan and draw out a diagram of your work site layout including the staging area, buffer area, transition area, and work area. Determine, based on the road type and the typical vehicle speeds, how many advanced warning signs you will need and how long the buffer area and tapers need to be.

Use at least one warning sign before the road work area begins to inform motorists that they are approaching an area where workers may be in the road. You may need more signs depending on sight distance along the road. Use a tapered line of cones to establish and separate the work area and redirect traffic away from workers. Use clean, unbroken, and highly visible safety cones to outline traffic lanes. Inspect all signs, signals, and lights to make sure they are working properly.

Notify law enforcement if you are going to be controlling traffic and request an enforcement zone if necessary. You can also notify and request the presence of the local Department of Transportation. Keep an emergency vehicle, lights, flares, air horns, and signs available on the work site in case there is an accident or other emergency. Inspect all of your tools, equipment, and signage to ensure that they function properly. Ensure that all mobile equipment has a backup warning device or use spotters with radios when moving equipment.

Road workers should be visible to all other workers in the area and to the motorists passing by. Wear warning garments such as vests, jackets, shirts or pants in orange, strong yellow-green, or fluorescent colors. In rainy weather, wear orange, strong yellow-green, or yellow rainwear.

During hours of darkness, your warning garments should be retroreflective, meaning that light shined on the clothing from a headlight or a work light will reflect back toward the driver or user to increase visibility. The retroreflective material should be visible from at least 1,000 feet. Your clothing should have at least one horizontal stripe of retroreflective material around the torso. White clothing with retroreflective material is also allowed.

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