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For New York City road construction workers, focus must be on safety

The streets in and highways that surround New York City are among some of the most heavily traveled in the country. It's imperative, therefore, that the city's streets and area highways are regularly inspected, maintained and repaired. From filling in a massive pothole that's developed over the winter months to making major structural repairs to one of the city's bridges; construction workers who perform these types of essential jobs are at risk of being struck or backed over by motor vehicles.

Often signs and barriers are erected to warn motorists when road construction crews are active. However, these signs and plastic cones often do little to actually protect workers from being hit by a driver who is distracted or driving too fast. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, from 2007 to 2012, 669 U.S. construction workers died in road and highway work zones. Many of these workers were struck and killed by passing motor vehicles. The majority, however, suffered fatal injuries after being struck or backed over by a construction vehicle.

In addition to being hit or backed over by a motor vehicle, workers who operate construction equipment and vehicles in work zones are also at risk of being involved in an overturn accident or collision. In an effort to keep all road and highway construction workers safe, the Federal Highway Administration has developed specific rules that construction employers and contractors must follow which are specific to the type of work project. Additionally, the Office of Safety and Health Administration provides strict guidelines with regard to the safe operation of construction vehicles and equipment.

New York City construction companies that handle road, highway and bridge projects have a duty and responsibility to protect workers from suffering injury or death. To fulfill this duty, it's imperative that work zones are correctly set up to include lane closures, adequate protection barriers and visible signage. Additionally, workers should be provided with high-visibility clothing and internal traffic control plans should be established and followed.

Source: CDC.gov, "Highway Work Zone Safety," Nov. 17, 2014

CDC.gov, "Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Worker Injuries From Vehicles and Equipment," April 2011