Construction work zones in Wisconsin and across the U.S. continue to the site of numerous fatalities despite various efforts to reduce their number. Since 2014, an average of 745 people have died every year in work zones, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and that includes both workers and those from outside of the zone. It’s not surprising that many of these deaths arise in vehicle-related incidents.
Back in 2018, the Center for Construction Training and Research analyzed the 267 vehicle-related fatalities that were recorded between 2011 and 2016 and found that most were caused by forward-moving vehicles (61.4%) or by backover incidents (24.7%). Backover incidents involve work equipment backing into workers. Incidents where cars from outside enter the work zone are called intrusions.
While state-wide efforts to improve work zone safety seem to be ineffective, construction site owners can do much to protect their employees. It starts with following the usual standards; workers should wear high-visibility clothing in compliance with ANSI/ISEA standards, for instance. There should also be a traffic control plan for exterior and interior vehicles, and equipment operators should check for anyone in the blind spot of their equipment.
New technology helps, too. Employers could use Automated Flagger Assistance Devices instead of human flaggers, and queue warning systems can update drivers on road conditions.
Even if workplace safety leaves little to be desired, there will always be the risk for an accident. Fortunately, injured employees can be reimbursed for their medical expenses, part of their lost wages and more by filing a workers’ compensation claim. Benefits are not guaranteed since employers have the right to deny payment, so victims may want a lawyer to assist them, especially with any appeals. In some cases, victims may strive for a settlement in a lump sum.