Skip to content

Don’t Zone Out: Work Zone Safety Month

May 2017 is Transportation Safety Awareness Month and Oregon’s Kick off to the Work Zone Construction Season

Drivers traveling Oregon roads are asked to recognize the importance of slowing down and driving with focus as they approach, enter, and travel through work zones, for their own safety and that of their passengers, other drivers, construction and utility workers, and public safety professionals. Dangerous driving behaviors have resulted in an increase in fatalities and injuries on Oregon’s roads. Inattention and speed are the most common causes of work zone crashes.

Oregon Work Zone Fatalities Magnitude of the Problem (preliminary data*)

  • Over last five years (2011–2015), Oregon has averaged 488 work zone related crashes per year, averaging 13 with serious injuries, and five fatal crashes per year.
  • On average, a work zone crash occurs every 18 hours in Oregon.
  • More than one person is hurt every day in a work zone crash in Oregon, on average.
  • Work zone crashes are serious for both workers and drivers, but more drivers or their passengers are killed or injured in work zone crashes than workers. On average, 85% of work zone fatalities are drivers or their passengers.
  • Road construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Road workers are six times more likely to be injured or killed on the job compared to other professions.
  • Work zone crashes tend to be more severe versus crashes outside a work zone.

Safety Tips:

  • Pay attention and focus on the single task of driving, bicycling, and walking when traveling through work zones.
  • Orange is your clue to slow down! Pay extra attention when you see orange signs, barrels, cones, and barricades. An inattentive driver is the most common cause of work zone crashes. Fines double 24/7 whether workers are present or not.
  • Pay attention to the driving task – especially in the transition zone of a work zone. Inattentive driving is the leading cause of work zone crashes.
  • Orange is your clue! When you see orange signs, barrels, cones, and barricades, slow down and watch for highway workers.
  • Obey all speed zone signs. Speeds may be reduced for your safety and the safety of workers.
  • Double your following distance. Don’t tailgate.
  • Signal, look, and move safely into the correct lane well in advance.
  • Be alert! Work zones can have narrow lanes, closed lanes, closed shoulders, and workers very close to live traffic.
  • When possible, move over for highway workers. Give workers more room between you and them.
  • Be aware of temporary construction accesses on either side of the roadway.
  • Be cautious and avoid following construction vehicles too closely; they often move abruptly in and out of work areas.
  • Plan for work zone delays. Leave earlier if you can. Be patient and drive safely through work zones.
  • Plan your trip. Start planning in advance by using or TripCheck Mobile to:
    • Check your routes, look for work zones, and monitor road and weather conditions before you leave.
    • Call 5-1-1 for latest traffic, weather, and highway conditions.
    • Avoid work zones by using alternate routes, when practical.

Working Safely in a Work ZoneSafety Tips for Workers:

  • Expect the unexpected. Assume drivers don’t see you.
  • Understand the difficulty drivers have negotiating work zones. Minimize impacts to traffic flow by not requiring drivers to make sudden lane changes or encounter unexpected conditions.
  • Pay attention. Beware of complacency—in yourself and coworkers.
  • Avoid having your back to traffic or use a spotter to watch your back for you. Have a communication plan between you and your spotters.
  • Flaggers should stand on the shoulder and focus on approaching vehicles. Avoid standing in the lane, unless visibility is an issue and this location is used to get drivers’ attention to stop. Once traffic is stopped, move back to the shoulder.
  • Bring more attention to yourself by wearing ANSI Class 3 high visibility safety garments—recommended at night or during poor weather and low-light conditions.
  • It is important that all workers within the right of way, including emergency responders, wear safety garments that meet ANSI Performance Class 2 or 3.
  • Do not use personal electronics while operating equipment. Make sure the vehicle or equipment is stopped completely before using a smartphone or smart tablet for work purposes.
  • When you need electronics for your job, remember to look up often and in alternating directions.
  • If a phone call or text must be sent while on the job site, establish an anchor point (vehicle, structure, equipment) to put your hand or arm on while you use the phone. This keeps you from wandering while talking or texting.
  • Do not use electronics while flagging, other than for coordinating traffic control movements with other flaggers.
  • Use properly mounted hands-free devices or voice command.
  • Practice working with complex/electronic devices before getting on the jobsite.
  • Only use personal electronics in approved safe zones or during breaks. Talking, texting, games, and pictures can wait.
  • Some work tasks use handheld devices. Look up every two seconds to check for new risks. Use a spotter if you need to focus away from traffic for longer periods.
  • Be sure to get two full nights of sleep (seven hours each) before working the night shift.
  • If intermittent day and night work shifts are required, establish a four-hour anchor sleep time each 24 hour period and supplement with naps.
  • The best naps are 10–12 minutes long—perfect during lunch breaks.
  • Long, mid-afternoon naps (two hours) prior to night shift work helps reduce sleep debt.
  • Make exercise/stretching part of your daily routine.
  • Stay hydrated with water and some electrolytes (e.g. sports drinks).
  • Watch others for signs of fatigue throughout the work shift.
  • Report unsafe worker behaviors to a supervisor. Remember—lives are on the line!
  • Obey all speed signs. Speeds in work zones may be reduced for your safety and the safety of workers.

WZ Poster Panel 2017Light the Bridges Orange for Work Zone Safety Awareness:

Three Oregon bridges have changed hues for May in an effort to raise awareness for work zone safety. During the month of May 2017 orange lights will turn the Interstate 5 Woodburn bridge, the Union Street pedestrian bridge in Salem, and the Morrison Bridge in Portland tangerine to draw attention to the harm distracted driving and speeding in Oregon’s Work Zones.

Need More Information?

Visit ODOT’s Work Zone Safety program website.

Share This Resource

Related Articles

Pavilion Construction, headquartered in Lake Oswego, Ore. is an AGC Oregon-Columbia Chapter member and is proud to announce Brock Argyropoulos is named VP of Estimating...
Knife River Corporation (NYSE: KNF) recently announced the successful completion of its spinoff from MDU Resources Group, Inc. (NYSE: MDU). As a result of the...
Perlo Construction is pleased to announce Chris Gregg’s new role as president and Devin Koopman’s new role as senior vice president for the company. These...