“Work zone safety is of the utmost importance to LIUNA 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,” says LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni. LIUNA members take part in more highway projects than any other trade, helping build and maintain infrastructure across the United States 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, the LHSFNA continues to lead initiatives to curb these trends and promote the safety of workers.
One of those initiatives began in 2008 when the LHSFNA recognized a lack of adequate safety and health standards for the highway construction sector. The LHSFNA’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.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A10 standards are voluntary, consensus standards specific to the construction industry. The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) acts as the secretariat for ANSI’s construction standards. 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. All ANSI A10 standards are required to be either updated or reaffirmed every five to ten years.
ANSI standards are best practice guides for contractors who want to go above and beyond the minimum federal regulations. The 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. Some of the highlights of the updated standard include:
- The entire Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), widely considered the gold standard of highway construction guides, is now referenced.
- A section was added to discuss the hierarchy of controls. The LHSFNA felt this was a critical addition since the hierarchy of controls is the foundation of successful occupational safety and health programs and hazard prevention.
- The new standard includes an extensive section of roadway construction terminology which 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.
- In the Traffic Control section, the materials on road drop-off hazards and positive protection were expanded. There were also updates made to the standard for the proper setup and removal of traffic control devices (TCDs) and the use of law enforcement for speed reduction.
- The Flagger Safety section was updated to include escape routes, refresher training and clarification for Class 3 garments requirements.
- The High Visibility Safety Apparel section was brought in line with current regulations and requirements for tip over protective structures (TOPS) were added to the Operator Safety section. A number of other improvements were also made, including additions to the Excavation Safety and Fall Prevention sections.
Copies of the updated A10.47-2014 standard will soon be available from the American Society of Safety Engineers. On March 31st, LHSFNA staff members will be hosting a webinar held by the ASSE to discuss the revised A10.47 standard. For more information, contact the ASSE or visit their live webinars page.
For further resources, visit the LHSFNA’s Work Zones hazards page. In addition, 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.
[Travis Parson is the LHSFNA’s Senior Safety and Health Specialist.]