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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

8 Tips For Work Zone Safety

Work zone safety near live traffic is critical. Hear advice on keeping your workers safe with a traffic control plan, work zone barriers and more.

In this podcast, Dan Clark offers eight ways to protect employees near moving vehicles. Dan describes reflective clothing, warning signs and message boards.

Also covered are STOP and SLOW paddles for flaggers.


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Dan Clark: A vehicle can be a weapon. A weapon when it enters a work zone. Don’t let it.

Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, tackling health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites, a service of Creative Safety Supply.

Here’s a savings hint. Make an order at and use coupon code Big10. It saves you 10%.

Over 100 workers are killed in work zone crashes annually. Work zones that are not just road construction. They can be landscaping crews, building contractors that temporarily crowd into the roadway, and more. Here are eight tips to keep workers safe when crews come dangerously close to live traffic.

1. USE A TRAFFIC CONTROL PLAN. This keeps hot-rod drivers out of the work zone. But, a plan also guides construction vehicles within the work zone.

2. WORK ZONE BARRIERS. Stop the public from driving, headlong, into a work zone. Use Jersey walls, barrels of water or sand, crash cushions, or energy absorption devices—those things that look like an accordion mounted on the back of a truck. Depending on speed of traffic, there are formulas for calculating barrier spacing.

3. WORKER CLOTHING. The work zone fashion statement is HV clothing and hardhats. HV is a type of high-visibility PPE. It must be florescent and retroreflective to be seen about three football fields away. For traffic up to 25 miles an hour, it must be Class 2. Class 3 for over 25 miles an hour.

In Emergencies Only – Red Flag

4. WORKER LIGHTING. Flagger stations must be well lit. Also, lighting for workers on foot and for equipment operators should be at least 5 foot-candles or greater. What’s a foot-candle? Oh, that’s complicated. Ask your lighting supplier. If this traditional lighting is not available, use flares or chemical lighting.

5. FLAGGERS. Even though they’re called flaggers, only in emergencies should they use flags. Their tools to communicate with drivers are STOP and SLOW signs—paddles or lighted paddles. Shouldn’t they be called paddlers? All flaggers must be taught authorized signaling methods and then be certified in them.

Preferred Method – STOP/SLOW Paddle

6. SIGNAGE. Oncoming drivers need ample warning signs and message boards. Traffic pattern change ahead! Flaggers ahead! Wake up, stop texting! That type of thing.

7. VEHICLE AND EQUIPMENT DRIVERS. Seat belts and rollover protection are a must, in and out of the work zone. Employees should know vehicle blind spots, and they should be familiar with which routes to take at the construction site.

8. WORKERS ON FOOT. In the traffic control plan, create safe pedestrian routes for employees within the work zone.

So, there you have it. A decade ago, over 1000 people were dying each year in US work zone crashes. As of 2013, the numbers dropped 40%. Let’s keep the trend going down.

That’s all for this episode on 8 Tips For Work Zone Safety. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Don’t forget to save 10% off your entire order at with coupon code BIG10.


More info from NIOSH here.
Info from OSHA here and here.

Flagger image by Texas Engineering Extension Service; bus and paver image by ADOT Arizona Dept. Of Transportation.

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