Roadway Safety Awareness Program: Trainee Booklet
Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America
|This document is one in a program produced under an OSHA grant by a consortium of the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund N.A, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the American Road and Transportation Builders Assn, and the National Asphalt Pavement Assn. All of the documents from this set that are on eLCOSH can be found by clicking on Job Site, Heavy construction, and scrolling to the Street & highway heading. Or to download a complete version of the computerized program, go to http://wzsafety.tamu.edu.
Building roads and highways can be dangerous. Each
year about 7,500 highway construction workers get hurt
or sick. More than 80 highway construction workers are
killed on the job.
Our work doesn’t have to be dangerous if:
Working together, we can make sure everyone
goes home safe and healthy.
- We are made aware of the hazards,
- We are given ways to avoid the hazards,
- We raise safety concerns with our supervisors.
What Are the Dangers of Electricity?
Contact with electricity can cause explosion, fire, and
electrocution. Electricity can cause severe burns and
Equipment contacting a live electrical line can cause
explosion, fire, or electrocution. Electricity can arc from
the line to equipment.
Work around electricity only:
How Do We Treat Above-Ground Utilities?
- when you are trained in all aspects of the job, and
- when you have a reason to be there.
Use extreme caution and keep
your distance when you must
work around above ground utilities.
The best practices are:
- Get the utility company to
mark, flag, and shield line.
- Assume the line is live until
it is tested. Have it
de-energized and visibly
- If the line must remain energized,
keep equipment and load at least 10 feet
away and use a spotter to warn the operator.
Minimum Safe Distances Power Lines
|50 kV or below
|>200 - 350 kV
|>350 - 500 kV
|>500 - 750 kV
|>750 - 1,000 kV
More in fog or rain
Post warning signs at ground level. Make anyone who
must enter the area aware of the overhead lines. Here
are two tips for operators:
What If Contact Happens?
- Mark a safe route for repeated travel.
- Slow down.
Do not touch equipment or a person in contact with
electricity. Get the line de-energized. If you are in a
vehicle that contacts electricity, stay in the vehicle and
do not contact any metal. If you must exit, jump clear
and slowly shuffle away. Keep your feet together to help
prevent current from running through your body.
Can We Be Safe Around Buried Utilities?
Before digging, call the electrical, gas, and communications
utilities. Review marked out areas. The mark out
may not be exact, so dig by
hand within 3 feet of it.
When digging, look for:
- foreign debris in excavation,
- changes in mixed-up soil
- asphalt patches or depressions
- concrete, plastic, or gravel.
What Causes Falls in Road Work?
Falls happen from one level to another or on the same
level. Most falls in road construction are slips or trips on
one level. Falls on walking/working surfaces include:
• Tripping over materials or debris.
Less common falls from elevations include falls:
• Falling on hills or embankments.
• Stepping in holes or walking on irregular ground.
• Stumbling while carrying loads that block vision.
• Slips or trips in muddy, wet, or icy conditions.
• From equipment.
How Do We Prevent Falls on Same Level?
• From bridges.
• From formwork.
• Into excavations.
Best protection practices include:
• Try to avoid muddy, wet, or icy surfaces.
• Use footwear with ankle
support and soles that
• Don't carry heavy loads.
Use hauling equipment.
• Practice good housekeeping.
Remove tools and
materials when not in use.
• Fill in or mark hidden holes in the ground.
• Clear walking and working surfaces of tripping hazards.
• Include walking routes in the site safety plan.
A very important way to keep yourself
from falling is to maintain good physical
strength and conditioning.
How Do We Avoid Falls From
Falls from elevations can be avoided
by many methods. Some good ways to avoid falls from
• The employer should have a 100% fall protection
program in place.
• Work should be pre-planned to provide for the use
of personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) anchor points
or guardrail systems.
• Erect guardrails around large
• Wear seatbelts or restraints for
riding in cars, trucks, and personnel
• Use modular form erection to
avoid work at heights on forms.
• Use 3-point contact.
What Is the Main Hazard of Flagging?
Motorists kill about 20 flaggers a year. Many more are
injured. Flagging can be dangerous due to:
• High speed traffic.
After seeing a flagger, a motorist going 60 mph needs
almost 400 feet to stop.
• Angry or aggressive drivers.
How Can We Protect Ourselves?
The best way to protect ourselves is to be visible and to
wear protective clothing.
Wear high visibility clothing:
• Orange, yellow, or green vest.
Wear other protective equipment:
• Only retro-reflective vests at night.
• Hard hat.
Stay alert and out of harm’s way.
• Long-sleeved shirt and pants.
• Appropriate clothes for
Follow these tips:
• Stand alone on the shoulder
in clear view.
• Never stand in the open traffic
• Plan an escape route for emergencies.
• Stay alert, focused on work.
• Make sure your hand signals don’t conflict with the
• Treat motorists with respect and courtesy. Don’t pick
fights or respond to anger. Notify law enforcement
when motorists do not obey.
How Do Health Hazards Harm Us?
Toxic substances can enter the body by three routes:
• swallowing, and
• absorption through the skin.
The effects of toxic substances in the body may be:
• short-term (acute) — such as eye irritation or
How Harmful Is Silica?
• delayed (chronic) — such as cancer or chronic lung
Silica is in many construction dusts such as concrete
and rock. Tasks that expose workers to large amounts
of silica include sand blasting, rock drilling, and concrete
drilling and grinding.
Long-term exposure to silica leads to lung disease
(silicosis). Long-term exposure also increases the risk
of cancer. You can prevent exposure to silica by:
• reducing airborne dust through ventilation and
How Harmful Is Asphalt?
• using NIOSH-approved toxic dust respirators.
Asphalt fumes may cause eye and respiratory tract irritation.
Hot asphalt can severely burn the skin.
To prevent exposure to asphalt:
• Work upwind whenever possible.
• Maintain a lower temperature to minimize fumes.
• Use ventilation on paving machines.
• Wear gloves and long-sleeved shirts to prevent skin
How Harmful Is Wet Concrete?
Wet concrete can cause dermatitis and skin burns.
Dermatitis can be either an irritation from chemicals in
the concrete or an allergic reaction. The allergic type is
very difficult to cure.
The best practices for preventing dermatitis and burns
• Wear long-sleeved or gauntlet gloves.
How Harmful Is Lead?
• Keep concrete out of your boots.
• Change your gloves
and your boots if
they become contaminated
• Wash your hands in
clean water with
• Try using a neutralizing
• Protect all cuts with bandages.
• Wear eye protection.
Lead damages the nervous system and the reproductive
system. Lead may be found in paints during bridge
renovations. Lead dust and fume can be inhaled or
ingested during sandblasting, welding, and cutting. Lead
dust can be carried home on clothes and can poison
Prevent lead poisoning by:
Are There Other Health Hazards?
• Using longhandled
• Using local
• Wearing the proper respirator.
• Washing face and hands before eating, smoking,
• Showering and changing clothes before leaving
• Getting your blood level tested periodically.
Other health hazards include common substances like solvents
and carbon monoxide or special products such as
sealants and paints. To avoid health hazards:
• Review the product Material Safety Data Sheets.
• Limit exposure as much as possible.
• Stay upwind of hazardous exposures.
• Make sure hazard controls like fans
• Wear protective gear like respirators
and skin coverings.
• Promptly report health complaints to your supervisor.
What Are the Special Challenges
of Night Work?
On the worksite, the challenges include:
• Poor visibility for motorists.
Night work also causes physical and
social disruptions, including:
• Poor visibility for workers.
• Communication between shifts.
• Impaired or drowsy drivers.
• Sleep deprivation and disruption.
How Can We Protect Ourselves at Night?
• Risk of injury from drowsiness.
• Impaired family or social
Use special precautions at the work site for night work.
Above all, you must increase visibility and know your
To increase visibility:
• Wear retro-reflective clothing.
• Wear flashing lights on your
body or clothing.
• Place retro-reflective tape on
• Use good work area lighting.
Know your surroundings:
• Know the vehicle and equipment paths.
Always provide clear signage. Space drums and cones
closer together at night. For the best lighting, contrast
the work lights from the warning lights.
• Know the assigned work areas.
• Know the safe paths to and from work.
• On foot, watch out for equipment.
• On equipment, watch out for workers.
Inspect the traffic control set up by test driving it to highlight
problems and then inspecting it frequently.
How Can Our Health Habits Help?
Night work is not normal. You must compensate and
your health habits can make a huge difference. On the
work site, eat protein-rich foods and avoid sugars and
fats. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine.
At home, make sleep a priority.
Follow a pre-sleep routine and
have a light snack before bedtime.
Keep daylight out, even if you have
to install black out drapes. Eat family
meals together and plan daytime
social activities. That way, you’ll be
ready for sleep when you come
home from work.
Is Too Much Noise a Serious Problem?
If you are exposed to too much noise, you can lose your
hearing — and you can lose your life.
On the job, too much noise can distract you. You may
not hear warnings. Noise also damages the nerves in
the inner ears. These nerves cannot be repaired.
After 15 to 20 years in the trade:
• You may suffer permanent hearing loss.
If you suffer hearing loss, you cannot hear well — especially
when there is background noise. Hearing loss can
adversely affect your family and personal life.
• You may hear constant ringing in your ears (tinnitus).
What Noise Sources Are Most Common?
There are many noise
sources in road construction.
Some of the most
• heavy equipment,
Could Road Work Be Less Noisy?
• pile driving,
• pavement breakers,
Yes. There are efforts to make it quieter. Noise levels
can be reduced by:
• Buy or rent quieter
How Do We Protect Our Hearing Now?
• Keep equipment well
• Move noisy equipment
away from workers.
• Put sound barriers
The best way to protect your hearing now is to wear
personal protective equipment (PPE).
If you must shout to talk with someone
3 feet away, you need ear protection.
Use the PPE provided by your employer.
Notify your employer if the PPE is not proper. Make
sure your PPE fits and is comfortable.
Follow the manufacturer’s
instructions for use.
Get a hearing test about once a year
so you’ll know your hearing protection
How Can Operators Stay Safe?
Safe equipment operation includes these practices:
• Before starting vehicle, do a walk-around inspection.
When entering and exiting the vehicle:
• Test the back-up alarm and
other safety devices.
• Locate and test controls.
• Know the equipment
blind spots and the swing radius.
• Use equipment seatbelts.
• Climb with 3 points of contact to avoid falls.
What Are Other Safety Measures?
• Look for other moving equipment or vehicles.
• Wipe up grease and fluid on equipment
Stay alert and aware of the hazards. Report all repair
needs to your supervisor. Always lock out and tag out
equipment that cannot be operated. For general safety:
• Use personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied
and required by your employer.
How Can We Be Safe in the Work Zone?
• Never use cell phones, AM/FM radios, CD players,
or other distractions while operating equipment.
• Safely secure equipment before using employerprovided
hand-held cell phones or walkie-talkies.
• Secure unattended equipment.
• Lock-out/tag-out before repair or maintenance. Set
the parking brake and chock the wheels.
The operator has special responsibilities. Know the job:
• Know the work zone and your position in it.
• Know the internal traffic control plan.
• Use designated equipment routes and areas.
• Identify rollover hazards.
• If you must move cones or barricades, return them to
their original positions as soon as possible.
How Can We Protect Other Workers?
Keep other workers in mind:
• Know the locations of other
workers around you.
• Set up a means of communication
• Never allow them to ride on
• Provide barriers between workers
and equipment, when possible.
• Avoid excess speed and dangers
caused by hills, obstacles, and
What Is Our Risk
from Sun Exposure?
Skin cancer is the most serious
risk. You are at greater
risk if you have lighter skin
with freckles or moles. Work
at higher elevations and work
around relfective material like concrete or water also
• A long-sleeved shirt and pants in neutral colors.
How Are Plants and Animals Hazardous?
• A broad-brimmed hat with a neck flap.
• Safety glasses with tinted polarizing lenses.
• SPF 15-25 sun block applied 30 minutes before
work and reapplied every 2 to 3 hours.
• Frequent checks of skin for early signs of cancer
and seeing a dermatologist for check-ups.
Plants and animals can cause rashes, illness, and even
death. Outdoor work can expose you to animal bites, such
as from dogs or snakes, and to plants like poison ivy and
poison oak. To prevent problems:
• Steer clear of any animals.
What Are the Hazards of Hot Weather?
• Learn to recognize, avoid poisonous plants.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
• Check for tick bites each day.
• Get prompt treatment.
Hot weather can lead to heat stress, heat exhaustion, or
heat stroke. Heat illness can be caused by a combination of:
• Heat exposure.
Heat stress can lead to heat rash, cramps, exhaustion,
and stroke. Heat stress may be more likely if you are
overweight and not fit. Alcohol greatly increases the risk.
• High humidity.
• Non-breathing synthetic clothing.
• Not drinking enough fluids to replace sweat.
• Hard work, body heat, not being "acclimatized."
What Is Heat Exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion is a dangerous illness.
• Extreme weakness or fatigue.
Heat exhaustion treatment includes
resting in a cool, shaded place and
drinking plenty of water.
• Dizziness, confusion.
• Clammy moist skin
• Pale or flushed complexion.
• Slightly elevated body temperature.
What Is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke can cause hallucinations
and death. Symptoms are red
or spotted hot dry skin, no sweat,
chills, high body temperature, mental
confusion, and slurred speech.
Call 911. Remove the victim to a
cool shaded area. Soak clothes with
water. Fan the body and apply ice to
bring down temperature.
To protect yourself:
• Wear light-colored clothing.
What Are the Hazards of Cold Weather?
• Gradually build up to heavy work.
• Schedule heavy work during coolest parts of day.
• Take more breaks in extreme heat and humidity.
• Drink lots of water, at least 2 to 3 quarts a day.
Cold stress can lead to hypothermia and frostbite. Cold
stress is caused by a combination of cold or cool temperatures
(50o F or less), wet weather and/or conditions,
high winds (40+ MPH), and inadequate clothing.
• Wear warm layers of correct clothing.
• Wear a head cover, warm gloves, and wool socks.
• Breaks in warm areas and hot liquids.
• Keep in good physical shape.
• Keep dry.
Can We Be Safe Near
Equipment and Traffic?
Being struck is the biggest
danger in road work. Workers on
foot must remain alert at all times. Check
surroundings often. Listen for warnings. Keep a safe
distance from traffic. Stay behind barriers where possible.
Look out for each other. Warn coworkers.
What Other Precautions Do We Need?
Employers must provide
proper personal protective
equipment (PPE). Workers
must wear it:
• Proper class of safety
vest at all times in the
What About Construction Equipment?
• High-visibility clothing
Treat equipment and vehicles
• Stay out of "blind spots.”
Do Safety Programs Help?
• Communicate with operators
by radio and/or eye contact.
• Don't approach until you communicate
with the operator and he/she
• Stay outside a "safety circle"
around equipment. If you can’t see
the operator, he/she can’t see you.
• Stay clear of vehicles. Know the
traffic control plan.
• Use spotters when you must work
with your back to equipment or traffic.
Yes. Workers must follow company safety policy:
• Follow all safety rules and practices.
• Avoid horseplay and reckless behavior.
• Ask for instructions if you don't understand.
• Join in safety discussions. Ask questions.
Share your knowledge and experience.
• Employers are responsible for determining
whether employees understand the information.
How Are Road Workers Struck or Crushed?
Tools and materials are two major hazards. To avoid
being struck by tools:
• Use point of operation guarding on portable hand tools.
To avoid being struck or crushed by materials:
• Use a chain saw safety program.
• Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
• Keep out of lifting areas, from beneath loads.
Trees and equipment maintenance are also hazards.
To avoid being struck by trees, restrict worker access
during felling, trimming, loading. Use protective structures
on equipment. Use safe hoisting, rigging for logs
• Use safe methods for rigging, hoisting, and setting
steel plates, jersey barriers, manhole frames and
• Use PPE — hard hats, footwear, eye protection.
To avoid being struck by equipment parts, do
lockout/tagout and hazardous energy control
during maintenance, repair, cleaning,
What Injuries Are Most
About 43% of lost work day injuries in
roadway construction are sprains and
strains. Common injuries include:
• Hand and wrist problems.
What Causes These Injuries?
• Back injuries.
• Sprains, strains, and overexertion.
Think of the most difficult parts of your job. These
injuries may be caused by some of these tasks, like:
• Working in awkward
postures, such as raking
How Can We Avoid Sprains and Strains?
• Handling heavy materials,
like in concrete formwork.
• Repetitive work, like rebar
• Using vibrating tools like
a pavement breaker.
• Whole body vibration for
Think of ways to do the job differently. We can make our
• Minimize manual materials handling with dollies,
hoists, and other equipment.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and breaks can help:
• Better job planning (deliver materials where
• Store materials for easy access.
• Use tools that are comfortable
and easy to handle.
• Wear PPE, like kneepads and shoulder pads.
What Can You Do to Prevent Injuries?
• Take breaks when possible, rotate difficult and
Do at least some of these measures:
• Plan and maintain a clear, level
• Don't lift too much by yourself.
• Use proper lifting technique. Lift
with your legs, not your back when possible.
• Do stretching exercises before work.
• Keep fit.
Why Are Trenches Dangerous?
A trench is an excavation deeper than it is wide.
Trenches can kill:
• Workers can be buried alive.
• Cave-ins can result from stresses in walls, nearby
moving vehicles and equipment, or spoil piles.
• Water can collect in the bottom.
• Flammable and toxic gases can build up.
• Gas from nearby sewer or gas lines can seep into
• Call electrical, gas, and communications utilities.
than 4' deep
definition of a
• Use extreme caution with equipment.
How Do We Prevent Cave-Ins?
Protective systems are the methods or structures that
protect us from cave-ins. A protective system must suit
the soil type, the depth of the excavation, and other site
conditions. It must resist without failure all loads intended
or reasonably expected to be put on it.
The primary types of protective systems are:
|• Sloping — soil angled to increase stability
|• Benching — steps in the trench wall.
|• Shoring — a support system made of posts, wales, struts, and sheeting or hydraulic shoring.
|• Trench Shielding — a protective frame or box to protect rescue workers after a cave-in
Trenches 5 feet or deeper
require support unless they
are in stable rock.
What Else Does Trenching Require?
The employer must designate a 'competent person' in
every trench job. The ‘competent person’ must inspect:
• At least daily and at the beginning of each shift.
The 'competent person' should stop work if a hazard exists.
• After precipitation, a thaw, and other events that
could increase hazard.
• For disturbed ground, water, toxics, and other hazards.
• If walls sag or crack or if the bottom bulges.
• To keep spoil at least 2 feet from trench edge.
• If there are nearby vibration sources such as
railroads or piledriving.
• That no worker is more than 25 feet from an
Competent person means "one who is capable of identifying
existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working
and who has authorization to take prompt
corrective measures to eliminate them."
This paper appears in the eLCOSH website with the permission of the author and/or copyright holder and may not be reproduced without their consent. eLCOSH is an information clearinghouse. eLCOSH and its sponsors are not responsible for the accuracy of information provided on this web site, nor for its use or misuse.
©2002 Laborers Health & Safety Fund of North America,Washington, DC All rights reserved. This material was produced under grant number 46C1-HT21 from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor to a consortium of the Laborers' Health & Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA), the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), and the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). It does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. No statement made in this booklet should be construed to convey an impression that any member of the consortium, its affiliates, or employees have assumed any part of the employer's exclusive legal responsibility for providing a "safe and healthful workplace" as mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Produced for the consortium by FOF Communications.
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