Tennessee Construction Injury Law: Road Construction Accidents
In the construction industry, one of the most dangerous locations to perform a job is at a highway work zone. Recent reports from the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) have shown that almost 125 fatal work-related injuries on road construction sites occur each year. At InjuryTN, our attorneys have experience representing individuals who have suffered injuries because of road construction accidents. We understand how vital road maintenance and construction is to the safety of drivers as well as to the infrastructure of our society.
Unfortunately, these work areas do not exist without inherent risk of injury and even death if drivers do not exercise the necessary precautions when driving through or near construction work zones. Drivers have to traverse an intricate and oftentimes confounding maze of signs, lane changes, barrels, and cones. Meanwhile, workers must oversee and cary out construction using loud vehicles, heavy machinery, bright lights, and even dangerous materials. Carelessness, negligence, or distracted driving are all major concerns when it comes to drivers passing through the construction area, who can often miss important signage like speed limits and other warnings. Nonetheless, employers will often be unable to appropriately establish the presence of the work zones or even abide by standard practice, which places workers at an unnecessary risk of severe injuries and even fatality.
Risk of Fatal Injury Across Industries
The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, which is a project developed by the ARTBA Transportation Development Foundation, reported that 2010 saw more than 500 worker fatalities caused by construction accidents throughout the U.S. This number increased to nearly 700 by 2017, with the majority occurring to workers completing projects on-site at the time of the incident, and less than 20% occurred when passing through the work zone. This does not include the numerous motorists who suffered fatal injury due to accidents occurring when driving through a construction work zone.
More than 60% of all occupational road construction work zone fatalities nationwide reported in 2013 took place in the following industries:
- Construction workers
- Highway maintenance workers
- Truck drivers
- Operators of heavy equipment
Most of these were in the private sector of construction work, and almost 10% were state-level or federal employees.
CDC Reports Work Zone Fatalities
Recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have indicated that transportation accidents make up nearly 70% of roadway worker injuries, and in more than 65% of those, the accident involved a pedestrian worker who was hit by a moving vehicle. Approximately 30% of such cases involved workers who were hit by vehicles which were backing up, and 12% involved large trucks. Furthermore, the USBLS has reported throughout a 15 year period between 2003 and 2017, 70 construction road workers had been fatally injured while performing their job on Tennessee roads.
Every year throughout the US, more than 37,000 injuries are reported at road construction work sites. This means that a work zone injury occurs every 15 minutes, and over 100 occur every day, with the majority taking place during the daylight hours of the week.
Although road construction worker fatalities have been dwindling over the past few years, it is still well-known that road construction workers do not receive the type of workplace protections that they are entitled to expect while working in such dangerous areas. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the US federal government spends more than $140 billion dollars every year on the construction, reparation, maintenance, and enhancements of state and federal highways throughout the country.
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Protection for Road Construction Workers
Research into traffic safety in the US has shown that numerous methods are available to road construction work zone supervisors which help in the prevention of occupation road construction fatalities, including:
- Well-planned traffic control
- Well-maintained traffic control devices and other set-ups
- Clearly visible roadside warning signs
- Sufficient traveler’s information and guidance for drivers regarding the project being completed, especially those which may be more long-term
- Full utilization of standard operational strategies like queue management, signal timing adjustments, and reminds as well as enforcement of speed limits
Safety Precautions for Road Construction Work Zones
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has published a set of guidelines which cover how construction supervisors should establish and maintain safe road construction work zones. This includes the use of appropriate signs, flaggers, channeling devices, and safe practices. Specifically, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices has outlined worker safety considerations for those supervising road construction work zones, including some of the following:
- Ensuring all workers on-site have adequate training in safe practices for completing work around motor vehicle traffic so as to prevent worker vulnerability.
- Placing temporary concrete barriers along the work site, while taking into consideration factors such as the amount of time the operation will take as well as the type of work being performed, time of day, and traffic volume in the given area.
- Reducing traffic speed by regulator speed zoning, funneling, lane reduction, and employing the help of uniformed flaggers or even law enforcement officials.
- Making sure the work zone is sufficiently planned and designed so as to mitigate the risk of backover incidents.
- Employing the help of a trained inspector to routinely conduct risk assessments on the hazards of the site. This individual should ensure all OSHA guidelines are adhered to as well as that all needed personal protective equipment is available and properly in use.
Professional Tennessee Construction Injury Lawyers
Those in charge of supervising and managing the site who are unable to provide their workers with a safe work environment may be held responsible for injuries that occur while working on-site. Third parties like reckless drivers may also be held liable if accidents occur due to their negligence. Call our accomplished team of Tennessee personal injury attorneys to find out more about how we can assist you in your legal matters. Contact InjuryTN today to schedule your free and confidential first consultation to discuss what rights you have and how we can protect them. There are no costs or fees incurred until we win the case.