Highway Construction Accidents | How We Can Keep Crews Safe

Slow down in construction zones

It’s no secret that road construction comes with its fair share of hazards. After all, working with heavy machinery, next to multi-lane highways is no typical office job. 

However, did you know that on average more than 20,000 roadside workers are injured every year?

The statistics are sobering, to say the least:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that from 2003 to 2017, 1,844 highway crew members died on the job. The number of fatal work-related injuries on-site averages over 100 per year.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that heavy/civil engineering construction and specialty trade contractors account for 62 percent of worker fatal injuries.

In December, an entire night crew was struck by a drunk driver in Arlington, Virginia. This is one of many instances where workers were injured or killed by impaired drivers. 

“The roads (…) are our office,” Jim Reed told WXYZ-TV Detroit after his colleague was hit by a drunk driver. “This is where our people work. Thousands of individuals from Michigan work on the roads every day. It’s important that we slow down and do the right thing.”

Safety shouldn’t be a fleeting luxury for our workers in the field. So, what can we do better?

Grab Distracted Drivers Attention

Distracted drivers are one of the biggest hazards for road crews. To get their attention, it is best to use multiple signals. 

Use certified flaggers to slow down traffic and allow passage through one-lane areas. Signs should be in place to signal that there are flaggers and road work ahead.

Construction Executive states ”Directives, such as evacuation route, do not enter, reduced speed ahead, road closed, and no outlet, assist drivers entering work zones and construction sites.”

Require Daily Safety Chats 

Accidents may seem like an inevitable part of construction work. However, workers should receive daily reminders to mitigate the risks that are in their control. 

These steps include preventing falls, wearing proper safety gear, maintaining distance from rotating equipment/unguarded parts, and exercising extreme caution around utility lines.

This video is a safety meeting from the Manhattan Building company. This comes from the vertical side, but the tone and delivery are still on point for heavy highway/civil.

Foremen should always be watching for any safety hazards, correcting unsafe practices, and sharing daily toolbox talks with their supervisors.

Which brings me to my next point:

Document, Document, Document

So, you’re having daily safety chats to keep your crew members informed, but have you documented it?

Too many times when accidents happen, companies are caught scrambling for proof that they took necessary precautions. Without proper documentation, not only are you unable to save yourself from litigation, but you also can’t be sure you’re doing everything in your power to protect your employees. 

To learn more about how you can easily create custom forms for field documentation, click here.

Spread Awareness

Eighty-three percent of Americans drive frequently, so we can all either be part of the problem or part of the solution. 

Slow down my dad works here

If you have the tools to reach an audience (no matter how small) take the time to share the statistics in this post.

Make an effort to remind people to slow down by adding a human element behind the “Caution Road Work Ahead” signs. 

These are our fellow industry professionals, and they deserve to go to work and feel as safe as I do sitting at my desk. Maybe that isn’t entirely realistic, but we could all use a reminder to drive more carefully. 

Economic Bounce-Back | A Positive Outlook for the Construction Industry

Busy construction site

We hear it from customers and prospects alike: “We’re interested in a field reporting, estimating, and/or historical pricing software, but we’re waiting to see how things turn out.”

We get it – businesses across the country are still reeling from a nearly three month shut down, and some are still waiting for their local government to allow the final stages of re-opening.

Here in Nashville, bars and restaurants are still receiving fines for serving more than 50 percent capacity, and everyone is still getting used to wearing masks in public. 

The construction industry, though deemed essential on the federal level, is still dealing with the shockwaves of the pandemic. 

Some states have shut down fieldwork, others have postponed lettings, and many companies have struggled to get field workers to return because they are competing with stimulus and unemployment checks. 

Though many economists are split, some experts do provide hope of an economic bounce-back, particularly for the construction industry. 

Just this week, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said the US economy appears to be entering the “rebound phase” of the economic fallout.

Jobless rate decreases

Motley Fool Stock Advisor reported, “The combination of strong retail sales numbers and a potential breakthrough for treating severe cases of COVID-19 sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) higher on Tuesday.”

Most surprisingly, May saw one of the largest job increases in history with employment increasing by 2.5 million, and the jobless rate declining to 13.3 percent. 

“It seems the damage from the nationwide lockdown was not as severe or as lasting as we feared a month ago,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman. 

As for construction, many consider the industry to be a catalyst for economic recovery and job creation. 

Earlier this month, the House proposed a five-year, $494 billion bill that would increase highway investment by 42 percent. Support for the federal transportation stimulus has continued to gain steam and has remained a bi-partisan option for economic growth.

The Associated General Contractors of America has reported that construction activity in many parts of the country has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Associated General Contractors of America

The economy is far from where it was a few months ago, but there are positive signs that we will climb out of recession quicker than expected, particularly with the help of our construction industry.

If you’re still stressed, we get that too. With everything going on, I find myself feeling like 2020 will never end, but also surprised that it’s already mid-June.

To our fellow construction professionals out there, we hope you’ll stay safe, healthy, and hopeful. 

To support the ARTBA grassroots campaign for federal funding for the improvement of America’s transportation network, click here.  

Come See Us At These Events

Is anyone else going through trade show withdrawals?

We’ve been itching to get back on the road and start networking with our fellow industry professionals again.

Check out the events we’ve got on the schedule so far:

Oman Systems Events

Information (including how to sign up) for the events listed above:

AGC of Indiana: AGC of Indiana Golf Outing

AGC of Missouri: YEC Golf Classic

AGC of Georgia: YLP Golf Classic

Carolinas AGC: Myrtle Beach Networking Event

If you have an industry event you’d like us to sponsor, or you are planning on attending any of these events, we want to hear from you! Let us know via the Live Chat, ContactUs@Omanco.com, or by calling 1-800-541-0803.

We hope to see you soon!

Construction Worker Safety – How to Beat the Heat This Summer

Summer is practically here, and most of us are already feeling the heat.

In the Southeast, we know our way around a 95 degrees, 100 percent humidity day. With this in mind, we need to know how to keep our construction workers safe in the field.

As most of us know, working outside during the summer can increase the risk of dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Along with these physical ailments, hot weather can lead to slowed cognitive function, which can impair judgment and reaction time (both of which are critical for workplace safety). 

Here are some proactive steps you can take to keep construction workers safe this summer:

Have a Heat Index Tool on Hand

According to Veronica S. Miller and Grhahm P. Bates, “Protection of the health of workers without unnecessarily compromising productivity requires the adoption of a heat index that is both reliable and easy to use.”

OSHA has created a free heat index app that can be used on Apple and Android devices. All you have to do is enter your location, and the app will input today’s temperature and calculate your workers’ risk. 

Hand-held tools with more robust data, like the Kestrel 3000HS Heat Stress Meter or the Pocket Heat Index Monitor, are also available. 

Note: Temperatures of 92 degrees and above are considered high risk. 

Avoid Dehydration

Dehydration is the fastest way to succumb to a heat stroke. Foremen should be sure there is ample water on hand at all times, and allow water breaks throughout the day.

Workers should aim to drink a gallon of water a day. A great way for supervisors to promote hydration is to provide gallon water bottles/jugs to all field workers.

Workers should also try to avoid eating salty, high-calorie foods during workdays as these can contribute to dehydration. 

Know the Warning Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses

The CDC lists the following warning signs for heat exhaustion:

  • Heavy sweating 
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting • Muscle cramps 
  • Tiredness or weakness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Headache 
  • Fainting (passing out)

The following symptoms are warning signs of a heat stroke:

  • High body temperature (103°F or higher)
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin 
  • Inability to drink
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  •  Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Losing consciousness (passing out)

Plan for Emergencies 

Crew members should be trained and prepared for heat-related illnesses. 

If one of your team members is suffering from heat exhaustion, move that person into the shade while you get the AC running in a vehicle. Have your worker take off heavy clothing like jackets, long sleeve shirts, tool belts, and helmets (if you are in a safe area). 

Have a cooler full of ice and wet washcloths on site. Placing the cold cloths on your neck and wrists will help bring your body temperature down.

We also recommend having a thermometer on hand to check the temperature of a crew member who becomes ill (remember: the core body temperature of someone suffering from a heat stroke is 103 degrees or above). 

If someone is displaying the symptoms listed above for a heat stroke, particularly fainting, confusion, seizures, or inability to drink, seek medical assistance immediately. 

By taking steps prevention, knowing the warning signs of heat-related illness, and having a course of action in place in case of an emergency will keep construction workers safer during the grueling summer months.

FMP Product Manual Now Available

Oman Systems customers,

We are working on adding and updating product manuals to our Client Portal. These video tutorials, images, and text break downs will help you better use our products and quickly answer any questions you may have.

FMP Crew documentation is currently available and can be accessed using the following steps:

  • Go to our Client Portal and enter your login credentials (typically company email and password) to sign-in.
  • Once in, scroll down to the On-Line Help and Documentation section and select FMP Crew.
  • You will be able to navigate through the different section break downs of FMP Crew, including projects, scheduling crews, sending notifications, and more. 
FMP Documentation

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to our support team via support@omanco.com, 1-800-541-0803, or our website’s live chat.

We looking forward to continuing to find ways to better serves you,

The Oman Systems Team