Road Construction Safety: The Basics for Management, Workers and Motorists

Road safety is always essential, and when construction operations are being carried out on public roads, the risk to everyone involved is significantly increased. According to a 2018 report by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), over five years, an average of 122 workers died annually – over twice the fatality rate for all other industries taken together. Over half were classified as pedestrian vehicular incidents, wherein a non-occupant of a vehicle was struck by moving equipment or vehicle.

At any inquisition of an accident, it’s easy to find someone to blame. But for each of us, improving road safety is a collaborative effort. It’s about what we all can do better. Whether you’re involved in roadworks operations, or just someone walking or driving by, here are some practical safety tips.


Prepare a safety program unique to each site, addressing hazards and contingency plans. In line with this plan, conduct safety training drills for all personnel working the site, and start each shift with a safety meeting where workers go over a checklist of activities, dangers, and safety equipment needed.

Notify and warn the public of the operation, using all available media. Putting up clear and well-illuminated signs ahead of the construction site is a must. Send out public service announcements via traditional news media, and social media as well.

Deploy well-trained, radio-equipped traffic controllers in the area, who can coordinate movements of the public. Designate the traffic in areas for warning, transition, and buffer, before the actual work zone, and a terminal area where the operations cease and traffic reverts to normal. This minimizes the disruption of your operation and ensures general safety.

bulldozer on the road


As construction professionals, workers should be well aware of the need to don the appropriate safety clothing at all times. In addition, clothing must meet ANSI class 2 or 3 standards of reflectivity. You must also ensure that you are comfortable – irritation or discomfort can lead to awkward or compensating movements, which in turn can cause fatigue and injury throughout a long shift.

Vehicle operators must ensure effective lighting at all times. Switch on emergency lights, mini LED light bars, and check all mirrors, backup lights, and other visual aids. Ground personnel must remain alert and aware of the driver’s blind spot.

Workforce experience should be leveraged. Whenever possible, you should seek instruction from experienced workers if you’re new to a task. If you’ve been around awhile, take the initiative to check in on the younger workers and make sure everything’s going smoothly on their end.

Motorists and pedestrians

As you approach a construction site, it’s imperative to slow down and stay alert. Only by doing so will you be able to observe warning signs, traffic controllers, and possible hazards.

Maintain a safe distance between vehicles, use your signal indicators when changing lanes, and avoid swerving or other sudden movements. Don’t get impatient or disruptive with traffic controllers or other motorists.

Avoid distractions, stay focused, and observe all instructions as necessary. And be courteous to everyone – it will make everyone’s day better. A bad mood never helps prevent accidents.

Road safety is a challenge because it takes a collective effort – and construction workplaces more strain on everyone Understanding the different roles we play and what you can do for your part, will help everybody go about their business safely each day.

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