Working on the roadside can be an extremely dangerous job. Between operating heavy machinery, an unsafe work environment, and every regular Joe driving by too fast in their massive SUV, it’s a recipe for injury.
Unfortunately, that’s the name of the game. It’s a dangerous job and you have to live with those risks, right? Not exactly. Yes, roadside work is inherently dangerous, but as a worker you can take steps to reduce those hazards. Here are a few tips for staying safe on the job.
Familiarize Yourself With the Jobsite Safety Plan
Your supervisor will have a jobsite safety plan as well as a plan for traffic control through the work zone. Both plans will outline proper procedures regarding where pedestrians are and aren’t allowed to be, where certain barriers will need to be placed, the flow of traffic, lighting, and more. It would benefit you to read through these plans carefully before starting any work so that you are completely familiar with how things should work, and thus keep safety at the forefront of your mind.
Never assume that someone sees you. You could be one of those tall inflatable things with the crazy waving arms that dealerships use, and still, somebody might not see you. So it’s in your best interest to take every precaution you can to make yourself as easily seen as possible. That means your workwear needs to be high visibility. Reflective safety vests, hi vis jackets, high visibility pants, and even hi vis rain gear should all be articles in your workwear closet. Besides wearing high visibility clothing, you should also know the blind spots of the heavy machinery that are in use within the work zone, and never be in an area that you really don’t need to be in — especially if there are known hazards. If you need to walk by a piece of equipment that is in use, be sure that you make eye contact with the operator to know that they see you. Never stand behind heavy machinery, vehicles, or other pieces of equipment.
Don’t Forget About the Night
Your risk of injury skyrockets as soon as the sun sets and the moon rises. The glare from the headlights combined with the overall darkness will create a low-visibility situation for drivers. That means a high-danger situation for you. During night shifts, you should be more attentive than ever, and wear as much high visibility workwear as possible. Follow safety measures to the letter, and ensure that your work zone is well lit.
The dangers of roadside work are numerous and aren’t limited to the hazards of oncoming traffic. The loud machinery can be dangerous to ear health, and permanent hearing loss can occur after exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels. There might be asbestos in some of the older materials, then there’s the hot tar for paving the roads, falling objects, and much more. It’s imperative to be vigilant and safe in your roadside work zone.
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