Friday, March 6, 2015

Work Zone Safety Standard Updated

By Guest Blogger Travis Parsons

“Work zone safety is of the utmost importance to LIUNA [Laborers' International Union of North America] members and keeping laborers safe in highway work zones is a major part of our mission at the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America [LHSFNA],” says LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chair Armand Sabitoni. LIUNA members take part in more highway projects than any other trade, helping build and maintain infrastructure across the U.S. and Canada. Unfortunately, this also means that laborers make up a large percentage of the workers who are seriously injured or killed in highway work zones each year.

Current national statistics show that approximately 100 workers die in highway construction each year, while many more are injured and exposed to harmful health hazards, including silica dust and lead. Because of these dangers, LHSFNA continues to lead initiatives to curb these trends and promote the safety of workers.

One of those initiatives began in 2008 when LHSFNA recognized a lack of adequate safety and health standards for the highway construction sector. The group's Occupational Safety and Health Division began spearheading efforts to update the standard in question which is followed by many contractors who frequently take on highway projects. In this case, the standard in question was ANSI/ASSE A10.47, Work Zone Safety for Highway Construction. Originally published in 2010, the updated version is scheduled to be published later this year. ASSE is secretariat of ANSI's A10 standards for construction and demolition operations.

ANSI standards are best practice guides for contractors who want to go above and beyond the minimum federal regulations. LHSFNA played a key role in ensuring that the procedures and precautions included in ANSI/ASSE A10.47 maximize the safety and health of workers in highway work zones. Highlights of the updated standard include:
  • The standard now references the entire Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, widely considered the gold standard of highway construction guides. 
  • A section was added to discuss the hierarchy of controls, which is the foundation of successful occupational safety and health programs and hazard prevention. 
  • The extensive section of roadway construction terminology was updated and expanded. 
  • A section on emergency incidents was added which gives contractors guidance on what steps to follow when injuries or fatalities do occur. 
  • The materials on road drop-off hazards and positive protection were expanded. Information on the proper setup and removal of traffic control devices (TCDs) and the use of law enforcement for speed reduction was revised as well. 
  • The Flagger Safety section now includes escape routes, refresher training and clarification for Class 3 garments requirements. 
  • The High Visibility Safety Apparel section is now in line with current regulations and requirements for tip over protective structures were added. Other improvements include additions to the Excavation Safety and Fall Prevention sections. 
Copies of the updated A10.47-2014 standard will soon be available from ASSE. On March 31, LHSFNA staff members will participate in an ASSE webinar on the revised A10.47 standard.

For further resources, visit the LHSFNA’s Work Zones hazards page. That page also contains a link to the ROADWAY SAFETY+ Road Construction Industry Consortium Program, an excellent resource to identify and prevent common hazards in highway work zones.

Reposted with permission of Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA). Originally published in the March 2015 issue (Vol. 11, No. 10) issue of Lifelines, LHSFNA's online magazine. Travis Parson is LHSFNA’s senior safety and health specialist.