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NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

NIOSH Safety and Health Topic:

Highway Work Zone Safety

Featured Items - Highway Work Zone Safety

Blind Area Diagram for Sterling Acterra 7500 at 1500mm LevelConstruction Equipment Visibility
NIOSH is introducing a new web page on blind areas around equipment. The web page, designed for safety personnel and instructors, can be used to raise awareness on the hazards of working around construction vehicles and equipment. Blind area diagrams for 38 types of construction equipment are available for download or print. A blind area diagram is a detailed visual representation of the area around a vehicle or piece of equipment that can not be seen from the operator’s position.

FHWA Worker Visibility Regulation - Effective Date: November 24, 2008 External Link:

On November 24, 2006 FHWA published the final rule on worker visibility, requiring the use of high-visibility safety apparel by workers who are working within the rights-of-way of Federal-aid highways. The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse held a webinar on the new regulation.
External Link:

High-Visibility Safety Apparel VestHigh-Visibility Safety Apparel in Highway Work Zones Brochure
this document in PDF
 2101 KB (2 pages)
External Link:

This brochure tells when and how to replace high-visibility safety apparel.


Temporary Traffic Control Devices Rule (Subpart K) External Link:

The Final Rule on Temporary Traffic Control Devices was published in the Federal Register (72 FR 68480) on December 5, 2007 with an effective date of December 4, 2008. This Rule supplements FHWA's regulation that governs work zone safety and mobility in highway and street work zones to include conditions for the appropriate use of, and expenditure of funds for, uniformed law enforcement officers, positive protective measures between workers and motorized traffic, and installation and maintenance of temporary traffic control devices during construction, utility, and maintenance operations. This rulemaking is in response to section 1110 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). External Link:

Frequently Asked Questions External Link:

Work Zone Positive Protection Toolbox this document in PDF 683 KB (20 pages)
External Link: Positive Protection Toolbox LL - FINAL.pdf

This toolbox describes the various types of positive protection devices currently in use, as well as provides guidance on where and how each device is typically used.

NIOSH Protecting Workers in Construction - Preventing Injuries Related to Motor Vehicles and Equipment this document in PDF 2.25 MB (2 pages)
NIOSH hosted a 3-day workshop that brought together 60 key stakeholders from government agencies, labor unions, and private employers to discuss measures to reduce worker injuries from vehicles and equipment. Researchers analyzed injury data, reviewed scientific literature, and developed “white papers” to focus discussion at the workshop. NIOSH then compiled research results and workshop participant input into a highway work zone safety guide.

Cover of Publication No. 2001-128Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Worker Injuries from Vehicles and Equipment
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-128 (April 2001)
This document presents prevention measures to protect workers from hazards posed by construction vehicles and equipment as well as by traffic vehicles. These prevention measures are directed to varied stakeholders with interest in work zone safety--road builders and maintainers, contracting agencies, policy makers, and manufacturers--and address issues ranging from the contract award process to use of high-visibility apparel at work sites.

Hispanic Construction Worker Dies While Operating Ride-On Roller/Compactor - South Carolina
FACE Report 2007-06

Laborer dies when backed over by a TAC truck in residential roadway construction work zone - North Carolina
FACE Report 2007-02

Fatal highway incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal workplace event, accounting for one in every four fatalities nationally in 2007. Fatal highway incidents fell by 3 percent in 2007, accounting for 1,311 worker deaths, the lowest since 1993. Nonhighway incidents (such as those that might occur on a farm or industrial premises) stayed about the same. The number of workers who were killed after being struck by vehicles or mobile equipment fell from 379 in 2006 to 342 in 2007.

Source: National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2007
this document in PDF 143 KB (14 pages)
External Link:

During the 1995 to 2002 period, 844 workers were killed while working at a road construction site. During this same period there were 9325 deaths in the construction industry. The 844 worker deaths in road construction represent 9% of all deaths in construction. More than half of these fatalities were attributable to a worker being struck by a vehicle or mobile equipment. Workplace fatalities that occur at a road construction site typically account for 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent of all workplace fatalities annually.

Source: Fatal occupational injuries at road construction sites
this document in PDF 43 KB (5 pages)
External Link:

General Information – Crash Statistics and Prevention Strategies

In-house Fatality Investigations Reports on Worker Deaths in Highway Work Zone
State-based Fatality Investigations Reports on Worker Deaths in Highway Work Zone
These links provide lists of reports of fatality investigations of incidents where workers in highway work zones were killed. These investigations were conducted under the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program. Although most of the examples involve highway construction, a few cases that occurred in maintenance and utility work zones are also included.

NIOSH Hazard Review: Work-related Roadway Crashes: Challenges and Opportunities for Prevention
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-119 (September 2003)
A comprehensive review of safety issues for workers who operate motor vehicles on the job. Identifies groups of workers at greatest risk for traffic crashes, summarizes key issues that contribute to work-related roadway crashes, and recommends preventive measures for employers and other stakeholders.



Roadway Safety

Equipment Blind Areas


Other Related Publications

Research in Progress at NIOSH

Ergonomic Evaluation and Improvement of Mobile Equipment
This project will evaluate exposure to whole-body vibration, awkward posture, postural stability, and improper egress from equipment among operators of mobile equipment, with a goal to reduce musculoskeletal injuries by evaluating and improving the design of mobile equipment used in the mining, construction and agriculture industries.

Project contact: Kumar N. Kittusamy, Sc.D.
Spokane Research Laboratory
(509) 354-8070;
Project period: 2003-2007

Evaluating Roadway Construction Work Zone Interventions
This study is identifying and testing safety measures that will protect workers on foot on highway work zone construction sites. The safety measures being tested are proximity warning devices and internal traffic control plans. Results will compare sites that don’t have the measures to the sites with the measures in place.

Project contact: David Fosbroke
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-6010,
Project period: 2001-2006

Evaluation of Safety Training for Spanish Speaking Roadway Workers
The objective of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of bilingual training materials for Spanish speaking and English speaking workers. Special focus will be on trainings given by non-Spanish speaking supervisors to Spanish speaking workers.

Project contact: Carol Mary Stephenson
Education and Information Division,
(513) 533-8581,
Project period: 2004-2005

Mobile Mining Equipment Warning Systems
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-110 (December 2001)
A monitoring systems is being developed that will monitor the critical operating parameters of lift trucks. By monitoring a lift truck’s operation, it may be possible to determine why the accidents continue to occur (page 28).

Project contact: John Owens
Spokane Research Laboratory
(509) 354-8000,
Project period: 2002-2007

Safety Enhancement for Off-Road Haulage Trucks
This report reviews results from testing proximity warning devices on mining equipment. The researcher selected several proximity warning devices and tested them on off-highway dump trucks. The researcher selected the units that performed the best during these trials for further analysis. The devices were evaluated on several factors including frequency of false alarm, detection zone, ability to detect an object or person, and feedback from drivers.

Project contact: Todd Ruff
Spokane Research Laboratory
(509) 354-8053,
Project period: 2004-2007

Other Research Funded by NIOSH

Effectiveness of Active Speed Controls in Highway Work zones
NIOSH Office of Extramural Programs Annual Program Report - Fiscal Year 2004
this document in PDF 2,437 KB (56 pages)
The objective of this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of three interventions on the reduction of travel speeds in highway work zones: (i) Rumble Strips, (ii) Variable Message Signs (VMSs), and (iii) Police Presence with Rumble Strips. (see research information on page 16)

Project Contact: Satish Mohan
Research Foundation of the State University of New York

Safety of Nighttime Construction Activities
This research will evaluate safety issues in nighttime construction as a necessary prerequisite to the development of strategies to improve safety, quality and productivity of nighttime construction operations on highways and in other sectors of construction.

Project Contact: Dulcy M. Abraham
Purdue University West LaFayette, West LaFayette, IN 47907-2108
Project Period: 2005-2010

Press Releases

2008 National Work Zone Awareness Week – “Slow for the Cone ZONE”
NIOSH eNews, April 2008
The National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), April 7-11, 2008
External Link:

Division of Safety Research (DSR), Researchers begin identifying highway work sites to evaluate new prevention measures, June 2004

NIOSH, OSHA, Roadway Work Zone Safety and Health Coalition Ally to Improve Roadway Work Zone Safety, November 26, 2003

Ways to Prevent Job-related Roadway Deaths, Critical Research Areas Identified by NIOSH ,
November 6, 2003

Press Release: CDC Report Suggests Ways to Prevent Injuries, Fatalities to Workers in Highway Work Zones, May 15,2001

NIOSH Report Highlights Motor Vehicle Crash Risk for Workers, Recommends Practical Preventive Measures, July 27, 1998

Related U.S. Government Web Sites

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities
External Link:
Data on fatal and nonfatal injuries at work from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the annual Survey of Occupational Injury and Illness, and other Department of Labor programs:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics
External Link:
Comprehensive U.S. transportation statistics for all modes of transportation.

Federal Highway Administration
External Link:
Information on the U.S. highway infrastructure, safety initiatives, regulations, environmental stewardship, and congestion mitigation.

  • Safety
    External Link:
  • Work Zone Safety
    External Link:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
External Link:
Information on regulatory and voluntary programs for reducing injuries, fatalities, and crashes associated with large trucks and buses.

  • Safety
    External Link:
  • Regulations
    External Link:

Mnual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices CoverManual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
External Link:
Federal regulations for operation and set-up of temporary traffic control zones, including highway work zones and emergency situations.

National Highway Institute
External Link:
The National Highway Institute (NHI) is a training arm of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). NHI provides leadership and resources for the development and delivery of training and education programs to improve the quality of our Nation's highway system and its inter modal connections.

Other Related Web Sites

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
External Link:
Provides research results and educational materials to promote traffic safety. This site also has a useful work zone photo library.

American Road & Transportation Builders Association
External Link:
ARTBA holds annual meetings and conferences, maintains standing committees, policy advisory councils, and professional development sections that work on issues to promote the effectiveness and efficiency of the transportation construction industry.

American Society of Safety Engineers
External Link:
Offers basic resources for safety professionals on work zone safety.

Associated General Contractors
External Link:

Construction Safety Council
External Link:
The Construction Safety Council is a non-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of safety and health interests in the field of construction throughout the world.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
External Link:
Vehicle crash test results and a wide variety of educational materials on traffic safety. Offers useful state-by-state comparisons of traffic safety laws.

International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE)
External Link:

Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA)
External Link:

National Asphalt Pavement Association
External Link:
The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) supports an active research program designed to answer questions about environmental issues and to improve the quality of HMA pavements and paving techniques used in the construction of roads, streets, highways, parking lots, airports, and environmental and recreational facilities.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
External Link:
Provides information on vehicle testing and standards, occupant restraints, impaired and drowsy driving, and national crash statistics.

National Safety Council
External Link:
In conjunction with ARTBA offers Roadway Work Zone Safety Awareness Awards. Offers general work zone safety information for safety professionals.

National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse LogoNational Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse
External Link:
Provides information for government, industry, and the public to promote the safe and effective operation of highway work zones.

Share the Road Safely
External Link:
Offers safety tips for safe passage of trucks through work zones.

Transportation Research Board
External Link:
Provides information from the arm of the National Research Council that engages government, industry, and academia in promoting research, policy studies, and information-sharing addressing all aspects and modes of transportation. Offers publications for a fee including, Illumination Guidelines for Nighttime Highway Work, Highway Maintenance Safety, Support, and Service

University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)
External Link:
Provides research results from an interdisciplinary center with expertise in large-truck safety, human factors, engineering, public policy, and data collection and analysis.

Upcoming Conferences and Events


TRB 88th Annual Meeting
External Link:
Washington, DC January 11–15
NAPA's 54th Annual Meeting
External Link:
San Diego, California January 25–28
Associated General Contractors of America
External Link:
San Diego, California March 4–7
World of Asphalt 2009 Show and Conference
External Link:
Orlando, Florida March 9–12
Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) 2009 Technical Conference and Exhibit
External Link:
Phoenix, Arizona March 22–25
Association of Traffic Safety Information Professionals 35th International Forum on Traffic Records & Highway Safety Systems
External Link:
Phoenix, Arizona July 12–16
ASSE Safety 2009
External Link:
San Antonio, Texas June 28–July 1
ITE 2009 Annual Meeting and Exhibit
External Link:
San Antonio, Texas August 9–12
American Public Works Association Congress
External Link:
Columbus, Ohio September 13–16
2009 ARTBA National Convention
External Link:
Charleston, South Carolina October 6–9
National Safety Council Congress & Expo 2009
External Link:
Orlando, Florida

October 23–30
October 26–28

2009 ASME International Mechanical Congress and Exposition (IMECE)
External Link:
Lake Buena Vista, Florida November 13–19

Page last updated: December 16, 2008
Page last reviewed: April 29, 2008
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Division of Safety Research

Highway Work Zone Safety

Highway construction workers

Topic Index:

Highway Work Zones
Highway Work Zones Fatality Investigation Reports
In-house Reports
State-based Reports
Construction Equipment Visibility

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