Work Zone Intrusion: Technology to Reduce Injuries and Fatalities
- Chukwuma Nnaji (Oregon State University) | John Gambatese (Oregon State University and the Oregon Electric Group Faculty Fellow) | Hyun Woo Lee (University of Washington)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- April 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 36 - 41
- 2018. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 62 since 2007
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- Work zone incident statistics indicate that there is room for improvement in safety for both workers and motorists.
- Safety technologies such as work-zone intrusion alert technologies are not widely used in highway work zones. Most highway construction stakeholders are not aware of the potential for incident reduction that such technologies can offer.
- Implementing work zone intrusion alert technologies in a highway construction work zone could help improve the safety of roadway construction and maintenance workers.
- Current work zone intrusion alert technologies should be improved to increase their adaptability.
Consider the following descriptions of three incidents in which work zone intrusions resulted in injuries and fatalities of construction and transportation workers.
Case 1: On March 13, 2017, two construction workers were killed in a work zone by a hit-and-run driver. A third was severely injured. The workers were conducting a ditch inspection when a car veered off the lane and crashed into the work zone (Johnson, 2017).
Case 2: On April 7, 2017, at approximately 3:00 a.m., a vehicle drove into a cut-off emergency lane and struck four DOT employees who were sanding and painting metal structures beneath an overpass. One worker was declared dead at the scene of the crash while two workers were severely injured (Park & Clark, 2017).
Case 3: Following some erratic driving upstream, a vehicle entered into a highway work zone and hit a company vehicle parked in the work zone, then ran over several barrels before coming to rest. Prior to crashing into the stationary company vehicle, a worker was hit and killed (Reese, 2016).
A consistent undertone in the three cases is the cause of the fatality: a motorist intruding into a predetermined and closed-off work zone. To keep the roadway open to the public during construction, highway construction workers are often exposed to the hazards of working in close proximity to live traffic. According to CDC (2016), 1,435 workers died on duty between 2003 and 2014, averaging about 115 fatalities per year. Vehicles intruding into a work zone are considered a primary source of worker fatalities. In addition, CDC (2016) reports that approximately 50% of fatalities recorded between 2011 and 2014 were attributed to vehicles hitting a worker in a work zone. The results from a survey conducted by Associated General Contractors of America (AGC, 2015) indicate that approximately 50% of all U.S. roadway contractors witnessed a work zone intrusion in 2014.
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