According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 745 people, including workers and non-workers, die annually in roadside work zones. NHTSA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics have found that, despite state-level efforts to improve work zone safety, the number of work zone fatalities has hardly gone down over the years. Construction owners in New Jersey should know that many of these deaths are vehicle-related.
In 2018, the Center for Construction Training and Research published the results of a study that focused on these incidents. It says that of the 267 vehicle-related fatalities that were recorded between 2011 and 2016, 61.4% were caused by forward-moving vehicles. Intrusions, where cars from outside enter a work zone, were all too common. The CPWR went on to say that 24.7% of fatalities were due to backover incidents, where work equipment backs into and strikes an employee.
Because of the dangers, construction employers should know what to do to maintain the safety of work zone employees. One way is to come up with a traffic control plan that covers both interior and exterior vehicles. Next, they should have spotters to direct the movement of work equipment. Operators should conduct a “circle check” to see if any workers will be in the equipment’s blind spots. Workers must wear high-visibility clothing as well.
Under workers’ compensation law, those who are injured on the job can be eligible for benefits. Unlike with a personal injury claim, the question of negligence does not play an essential role, although employers may deny payment in certain cases. This would then make it necessary for an applicant to file an appeal. For assistance with these and other steps, legal representation could be helpful. Workers’ comp benefits might cover medical expenses and some lost wages.