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Work Zone Data

Work Zone Data/Traffic Safety

If you work on or near a roadway, traffic safety is an essential part of workplace safety. Traffic accidents are shockingly common on jobsites on or near roads. OSHA recommends setting up “work zone signs, barricades, flagging, etc.” to divert traffic away from roadway work zones and direct traffic around jobsites.

This pre-emptive action, along with proper training, should ensure that all vehicles and construction staff stay within their approved work zones, minimizing accidents. Although this has long been provided by OSHA, traffic accident statistics from work zones continue to provide sobering reading.

Traffic Accidents in Work Zones

According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is drawn from law enforcement data in all 50 U.S. states, Guam, and Puerto Rico, work zone fatalities rose from 590 in 2011 to 857 in 2020. Broken down, this means at least two people per day lost their lives in a work zone in the U.S. in 2020. In the same time period, injuries in work zones have risen from an estimated 39,000 in 2011 to 44,000 in 2020.

Work Zone Accident Statistics from 2017 to 2020

Beyond death statistics, failures of work zone safety result in injuries and non-fatal crashes that damage equipment and injure those involved. Additionally, it’s important to note that it isn’t only drivers at risk of death or injury in work zones.
Traffic Safety - Work Zone Data

Causes of highway worker fatalities, 2017–2019:

  • 45.3% of deaths were caused by workers on foot being struck by vehicles
  • 29.4% of fatalities were drivers or passengers in vehicles
  • 7.2% of deaths were caused by workers being struck by objects
  • 2.0% were caused by workers being trapped between objects
  • 4.9% were electrocutions
  • 5.1% of fatalities were caused by trips, slips, and falls
  • 6.1% of fatalities were due to other or unknown causes

At-a-glance statistics for work zone accidents (2020):

  • 120,000 work zone crashes overall
  • 156 pedestrian fatalities within work zones
  • 244 fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles in work zones
  • 44,000 injuries in work zones
  • 857 total deaths in work zones reported

Defining a Work Zone

A work zone is any area of roadway on which construction, maintenance, or utility work is being carried out. Usually, a work zone is defined as the area between the channeling devices that reroute traffic at either end of the active work area; common examples of channeling devices are flashing signals at the beginning of a work area and an “End of Road Work” sign indicating that traffic rules are returning to normal.

Basic Safety Measures within a Work Zone

Work zone safety measures encouraged by OSHA include:

  • Signage aimed at vehicles driven by the public on the road leading up to and around the work zone.
  • Traffic control devices like lights, signals, and message boards.
  • Barriers and crash cushions both around and within the work zone.
  • Properly trained flaggers wearing reflective high-vis clothing.
  • Proper lighting: according to OSHA, “Lighting for workers on foot and equipment operators is to be at least 5 foot-candles or greater.”
  • Proper training for flaggers within the worksite and everyone working on the site so that hand signals can be understood by everyone.
  • Proper training for both drivers and workers on foot regarding the routes construction vehicles will take within a work zone, blind spots,     and visibility issues.
  • All workers on foot wearing high-visibility safety clothing class 1, 2, or 3 as appropriate.
  • The different dangers and safety concerns for shift work and work carried out at night should be considered and communicated to all      workers.
  • Drivers and passengers should wear seatbelts at all times, and rollover protection should be employed in all vehicles.
Further recommendations can be found in OSHA’s fact sheet on Work Zone Traffic Safety. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also produced an extensive literature review on workplace safety in roadway construction and maintenance zones, including an extensive list of preventative measures that can be used by construction professionals working on roadways.

Why White Cap?

At White Cap, we have everything you need to ensure safe work zones. We stock lights and high-visibility safety clothing that can be used to secure your work zone and reduce accidents to a minimum.

White Cap offers next-day delivery when you buy online, or you can visit one of our 360+ online stores. Our White Cap Experts are available to discuss your specific safety needs, too. A knowledgeable professional will give you a call back within two hours, discuss the products that will help with your next job, and make sure they're at your worksite ASAP.
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