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For New York’s road construction workers, a day at the office can be deadly

On a daily basis, millions of motor vehicles travel along New York State’s highways and roads. It’s no wonder therefore, that road construction crews are frequently called upon to fix road defects, perform regular maintenance and construct new roadways. For the men and women who are tasked with helping ensure that New York’s roads are safe and navigable, there are many occupational hazards including the risk of suffering injuries in a motor vehicle-related accident.

During 2010 alone, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration reported that more than 87,600 crashes occurred in road construction work zones throughout the U.S. Thankfully, with a fatality rate of less than one percent, the vast majority of these accidents were not deadly. Included among those individuals who suffered fatal injuries were 106 road construction workers.

Throughout 2010, roughly 50 percent of road construction worker fatalities occurred when a worker was run or backed over by a passenger or construction vehicle. The remaining fatalities were linked to vehicle collisions and workers who suffered injuries after being “caught between or struck by construction equipment or objects.”

2008 data from the FHWA also shows that more construction work zone accidents, involving both motorists and construction workers, occurred on urban interstates. Additionally, in 51 percent of the work zone fatalities that occurred during this year, speeding and/or alcohol played a role.

According to FHWA, road construction companies and employers would be wise to implement the following measures to improve construction site safety and reduce the likelihood of construction workers and motorists suffering injury or death.

  • Use of road construction warning signs well in advance of actual construction site
  • Adequate traffic control plans
  • Implementation of traffic control devices
  • Community outreach to warn and educate motorists about impending road construction projects
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