Course 612 - Work Zone Traffic Safety

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Roadway Worker Risks

rainy conditions
Driver’s view passing by a work zone under overcast/rainy conditions. Can you see the flagger?

Workers in temporary traffic control work zones are exposed to injury from construction vehicles and motorized equipment. Here are some risk factors:

  • operating in and around the active work zone(s)
  • operating in traffic control or secondary areas that support the work zone
  • entering and leaving the work zone

Workers in the roadway are also at risk of injury from a variety of general traffic vehicles entering the work zone, such as:

  • drunk drivers
  • sleepy or impaired drivers
  • impatient, reckless drivers
  • drivers using cell phones or other inattentive drivers
  • law enforcement and emergency vehicles
  • disabled vehicles pulling in and parking
  • lost drivers looking for directions

Drivers Using Cell Phones in Construction Zones

The new survey of law enforcement officers found about 40 percent of drivers operating their vehicles in a construction zone were using a cell phone, resulting in more traffic accidents. In fact, 78 percent of responding law enforcement officials in Northern Virginia alone indicated the number of automobile crashes/incidents in construction zones has increased since they joined the department.

Be aware in traffic work zones - Puget Sound Energy

For responding police officers, the cause behind the increase in incidents is clear. They say cell phone use is overall the primary causes of crashes in at least 34% of accidents in road construction zones.

Real-Life Accident

An inattentive driver rear-ended this attenuator truck at 63 mph, despite workers’ attempts to get the driver’s attention. Two workers were hurt and the driver received minor injuries.

The driver pled guilty to reckless endangerment of a roadway worker.

Check out this short audio clip by Dan Clark of the that gives important tips for workzone safety.

Workers-on-Foot Risk Factors

Flaggers and other workers-on-foot (refers to any pedestrian worker on the ground in the work zone) are exposed to several risks, including being hit if they are not visible to motorists or equipment operators.

Equipment Operator Risk Factors

Workers who operate construction vehicles or motorized equipment have an increased risk of injury due to rollovers, collisions, and being caught between or struck by operating equipment.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), 844 worker deaths occurred in roadway work zones from 1995-2002 in the United States.

Here are some other sobering statistics involving work zone accidents:

  • 91% of the 844 deaths were related to motor vehicle traffic, construction equipment, or both.
  • From 1992-1997, there were 90 deaths/year on average in the United States.
  • From 1997-2003, there were 120 deaths/year on average in the United States.

BLS says construction vehicle-related accidents are responsible for the increase in worker deaths.

Traffic Control Around Work Zones

Flaggers and other workers assigned to traffic control responsibilities work very close to motor vehicles. This increases their risk of getting hit or run over by passing vehicles. Therefore, flaggers must be trained in traffic control techniques.

Temporary Traffic Control Plans

traffic control plans

A traffic control plan helps move motorist traffic safety through or around roadway work zones to protect the public and workers. The traffic control plan makes use of traffic control devices, standard signage, and buffer and transition zones. When flaggers will be used on a job lasting more than one day, there must be a current site-specific traffic control plan kept on site.

In the Temporary Traffic Control zone, construction vehicles and equipment moving inside create a risk to workers on foot requiring additional protection planning and policies to minimize backing-up maneuvers in the “activity area.”

The Temporary Traffic Control “Activity Area” is the section of the highway where the work activity takes place. It is comprised of the work space, the traffic space, and the buffer space.

The “work space” is the portion of the road closed and set aside for equipment, workers, and materials. Work spaces are usually separated from the traffic space with channeling devices or temporary barriers and signs. This protects both vehicles and pedestrians.

Here are some other important components of a temporary traffic control plan:

  • Restrict personnel access points into work areas and define/designate “no backing zones” and “pedestrian-free zones.”
  • Design into the Temporary Traffic Control Plan flow paths for equipment and vehicle traffic to minimize backing maneuvers where possible. There should also be buffer spaces to protect pedestrian workers from straying traffic vehicles and/or work zone equipment.
  • Establish procedures for entering and exiting the work zone.
  • Train all employees on the Temporary Traffic Control Plan and its precautionary measures.

Working at Night

night work

Visibility is greatly reduced at night and your risk of getting injured or even killed increases in the dark. Drivers may be more tired, sleepy, and less attentive.

Hazards and Problems at Night

  • poor visibility
  • glare off lights
  • adverse weather conditions
  • tired drivers
  • inattentive workers

Protect yourself when you must work at night by doing the following:

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Wear high visibility apparel.
  • Arrange good work area lighting.
  • Set up proper traffic controls.
  • Know the traffic flow plan and pattern.

Protecting Workers in Work Zones

Work Zone Safety 1 - Washington State L&I

Employers must conduct crew meetings and train all workers on work zone safety. They should discuss potential hazards, equipment blind spots, and movement precautions in the activity area.

Employers must also have the following to protect workers in a work zone:

  • comprehensive site-specific safety program
  • temporary traffic control plan in place for the project site

Workers must do the following in a work zone:

  • Wear high-visibility safety apparel (vest and head gear).
  • Be alert for construction vehicles, equipment, and general traffic.
  • Check surroundings often for hazards.
  • Work Zone Safety 2 - Washington State L&I
  • Know the plan for traffic flow.
  • Keep a safe distance from traffic.
  • Communicate with other workers, especially when there are changes in procedures, locations, or traffic flow pattern.
  • Stay behind the protective barriers.
  • If you do not have a reason for being there, do not linger or cross into areas around moving equipment.
  • Use extra precautions and additional safety apparel at night and during poor weather conditions.

Protective Measures

Pedestrian Workers

  • Keep operators who are working near moving equipment in eye contact.
  • Remember equipment blind spots and limited visual areas.

Equipment/Vehicle Operators

  • Keep windows and mirrors clean.
  • Watch for workers on foot and know where they are located.
  • Remember equipment blind spots and limited visual areas.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. What percentage of drivers are using their cell phones in a construction zone?

2. ____ worker deaths occurred in roadway work zones from 1995-2002.

3. What is the purpose of a traffic control plan at a road construction site?

4. The _____ is the portion of the road closed and set aside for equipment, workers, and materials.

5. Which of the following are ways to protect yourself while working at night?

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.