The Civilian’s Guide to Construction Site Safety
Injuries on construction sites is a concern for workers, but civilians should also be informed about potential hazards they may encounter if they are entering a construction zone. Dangers such as unstable work surfaces around holes or trenches are an example of why it is necessary to be cautious and aware of safety when encountering an area under construction. Be aware while walking around scaffolding, ladders and other building structures and be alert to possible obstacles. Pay attention to guardrails and other structures that define boundaries…it is likely that workers have established the boundaries as a safety precaution.
Equipment that is used on-site should only be operated by qualified personnel. Every year, workers are injured while operating powered industrial trucks and forklifts. Civilians should be aware that operating this equipment requires special training and if they hear the reverse signal alarm they should exit the area where the equipment is in use.
Workers on construction sites follow specific safety standards such as wearing head protection or other protective clothing. There are strict guidelines that must be followed when dealing with hazardous chemicals or materials. Precautions vary depending on the construction site and while workers may be aware of potential dangers, civilians may not be as informed. Using caution while being around any construction project is crucial for employees and civilians alike.
Road construction has been steady in Alberta and many major projects are currently underway or have recently been finished. Unfortunately, road construction means slower drive times as well as the possibility of increased car accidents. In order to minimize the risk of traffic accidents, motorists should consider the following:
- Motorists must obey the posted speed while driving through construction zones. When workers are present, fines for speeding in these areas are doubled. A worker is deemed to be present when they are on or near the road and are operating heavy equipment. Flag persons and other workers working with tools on the ground are also considered to be present and at risk.
- Drivers convicted of violating the Traffic Safety Act can have demerit points applied to their driver’s record if they are convicted of the fine. 1-15 km over the speed limit can amount to a fine of between $57 – $89 with two demerit points, 16-30 km over the speed limit can amount to a $103-$177 fine and three demerit points, 31-50 km can cost $187-$351 in fines with four demerit points; anything over 50 km requires a mandatory court appearance with the court setting the fine and a possible six demerit points.
- Even if it seems like there is no activity in a construction zone, there may be other less obvious hazards such as loose gravel chips and uneven pavement that can be dangerous for vehicles traveling at high speeds.
- Cooperate with other drivers to keep moving smoothly. When traffic needs to merge due to a lane closure, ease into the driving lane early and leave gaps for other vehicles to merge. Expect that travel will take longer due to construction and plan accordingly. If you know the whereabouts of a construction zone or if it is a route you travel regularly, consider using an alternate route.