According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, more than 7,000 car accidents occur in work zones on state roadways every year. Workers’ compensation lawyers Illinois have found that, in addition to the drivers involved in these accidents, work zone workers are particularly vulnerable to accidents at these sites.
Work zone workers perform a valuable service in keeping roads maintained. However, this type of job comes with a unique set of challenges and these employees are often exposed to more dangers than employees in other occupations. These dangers include drivers, operators of work zone equipment, equipment itself and weather conditions.
Many workers’ compensation lawyers in Illinois can recount stories of road workers who were struck by drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all highway worker fatalities are attributed to vehicle-related accidents. It is further estimated that around 20,000 workers are injured by drivers within work zones.
In many cases, work zones require drivers to slow down considerably or stop altogether. Road construction may also require an unexpected, time-consuming detour. For those who are already in a hurry or in a bad mood, such frustration may prompt drivers to speed, to disregard roadblocks or to try to find a shortcut. All of these factors present risks to workers.
Operators of work zone equipment
It is not uncommon for a work zone to be filled with large and small pieces of equipment. Pavers, jack hammers, dump trucks, rollers, scrapers, and hydraulic excavators all pose injury hazards to workers. Studies of road construction accidents have shown that moving around these large vehicles can lead to injury due to low visibility according to the CDC.
Companies overseeing these projects should make sure that large equipment is properly moved and that workers are foot are always kept within the visibility of the operators
Road construction equipment
In addition to ensuring that operators are safely running the large equipment, the equipment itself should be properly maintained. Before the equipment is used each day, it should be inspected for any safety concerns such as loose parts, pieces that have broken or damage to the tires. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the contractor to make sure that employees are trained in how to handle such equipment. Employees should wear protective clothing at all times, pass safety reviews and avoid behaviors with the equipment that can lead to injured workers.
While weather isn’t often discussed, it can be a source of injury. Exposure to temperatures above 75 can lead to heat stroke and other heat related illnesses. Working in rain or snow can expose workers to frostbite, infections and other conditions that require them to seek medical care.