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A Report on Questionnaire Survey on Highway Work Zone Safety Audits

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Highway Work Zone Safety Grant:
Highway Work Zone Safety Audit Guidelines Development and Training
Award No: DTFH61-06-G-00005

Submitted To:

Mr. Carl Rodriquez, HAAM-40F
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Acquisition Management, Room 4410
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590

Dr. Morris Oliver, HAS-30
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Safety, Room E71-324
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Prepared by:
PI: Jonathan Shi, Ph.D., P.E.
Co-PI: Dr. Zongzhi Li, Ph.D.

Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
Illinois Institute of Technology
3201 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60616

November 15, 2007 


NOTICE

This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for its contents or use thereof. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade and manufacturers' names
appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

QUALITY ASSURANCE STATEMENT

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report documents the findings of a questionnaire survey conducted in mid-July 2007 to collect pertinent information to help the research team prepare and refine strategies and methodologies for developing the national highway work zone safety audit guidelines. Specific questions asked in the questionnaire include leading causes of work zone safety problems and effective countermeasures; types of projects suitable for auditing and audit frequencies; suitable project delivery stage, lead party and composition of auditing team, and funding sources for performing work zone safety audit; expected audit tasks, approach, and useful tools; whether or not to cover worker safety and safety training. Empty spaces were also provided for respondents to supply with additional comments.

The expert database maintained by the National Work Zone Information Clearinghouse was used to solicit potential respondents. In total, 604 experts on highway work zone safety and mobility from the FHWA, state transportation agencies, local government agencies, private consultants, equipment vendors, general contractors, universities/research institutions, unions, and professional associations in the United States were selected for participation. The survey period lasted for 4 weeks and 85 respondents returned their completed surveys through the Website, by email, or by fax.

The key findings of the survey are summarized as follows:

  • The leading causes of work zone safety problems are due to inadequate work zone setup, inadequate pre-construction planning, and improper enforcement.
  • Effective measures for improving highway work zone safety include periodic work zone safety review and public outreach and education on work zone safety issues.
  • Major projects shall be given the highest priority for work zone safety audits. Regardless major, minor, or minimal projects, it was generally recommended to perform safety audit on an as needed basis.
  • The work zone safety audit at the construction stage is identified as the most needed. Safety audits at the project design and pre-construction stages are also highly recommended.
  • State transportation agencies are recommended to lead highway work zone safety audits. In addition, a partnership with the project owner, project owner’s consultant, and contractor is also regarded as essential to carry out roadway work zone safety audits.
  • A work zone safety audit team shall consist of representatives of Federal agencies, state transportation agencies, highway contractors, and local law enforcement.
  • The recommended funding sources for work zone safety audits shall come from the following sources: the FHWA, state transportation agencies, and the project budget.
  • The primary audit tasks shall include checking the work zone activity area configuration, examining the implementation of temporary traffic control devices, and assessing driver behavior; and reviewing project design, construction, and transportation management plans.
  • An interactive computer tool and computer-based prompt lists are mentioned as useful tools for assisting work zone safety audits.
  • A majority of respondents believe that a safety audit shall review the contractor’s worker safety training and safety inspection records. They also support that the contractor submit its workers’ injury data to the project owner on a regular basis was.
  • The contractor’s project manager and project owner’s representative are identified as most needed for safety training.

In addition, the survey respondents provided additional comments on enhancing work zone safety from engineering, enforcement, and education perspectives, as well as on issues related to the execution of work zone safety audits. Many of these comments are consistent with the findings from the review of existing literature on highway work zone safety.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The research team would like to acknowledge the significant assistance of eighty-five experts on highway work zone safety and mobility from the FHWA, state transportation agencies, local government agencies, private consultants, universities/research institutions, a general contractor, an equipment vendor, a union, and a professional association across the country in responding to this questionnaire survey. Their direct participation is essential for the conduction and accomplishment of this research task. Additional thanks go to the staff maintaining the National Work Zone Information Clearinghouse for providing the contact information on the experts for survey participation.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. SURVEY RESULTS
    2.1 Employment Distribution
    2.2 Leading Causes of Highway Work Zone Safety Problems  
    2.3 Effective Measures for Improving Highway Work Zone Safety
    2.4 Types of Highway Projects Suitable for Work Zone Safety Audits and Audit Frequencies
    2.5 Appropriate Project Delivery Stages to Perform Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
    2.6 Lead Entity of Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
    2.7 Composition of A Highway Work Zone Safety Audit Team
    2.8 Funding Sources for Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
    2.9 Key Tasks of Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
    2.10 Approach to Summarize Audit Findings
    2.11 Tools Useful For Assisting Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
    2.12 Construction Worker Safety in Work Zone Safety Audits
    2.13 Construction Worker Injury Data
    2.14 Requirements of Project Personnel for Safety Training
    2.15 Additional Comments
  3. SUMMARY AND CONCLUDING REMARKS

    APPENDIX A: Questionnaire Survey on Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
    APPENDIX B: Graphic Presentations of Survey Results 

LIST OF TABLES

2-1 Employment Breakdown of the Respondents
2-2 Primary Causes of Highway Work Zone Safety Problems
2-3 Effective Measures for Improving Highway Work Zone Safety
2-4 Highway Projects Suitable for Work Zone Safety Auditing and Audit Frequencies
2-5 Appropriate Project Delivery Stages to Perform Highway Work Zone Safety Auditing
2-6 Leading Entity for the Conduction of Highway Work Zone Safety Auditing
2-7 Composition of Highway Work Zone Audit Team Members
2-8 Funding Sources of Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
2-9 Key Tasks of Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
2-10 Appropriate Approaches to Summarize Highway Work Zone Safety Audit Findings
2-11 Tools Helpful for Accomplishing Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
2-12 Consideration of Worker Safety in the Highway Work Zone Safety Auditing Process
2-13 Contractor Submitting Worker Injury Data to the Project Owner
2-14 Project Personnel in Need of Work Zone Safety Training
2-15 Summary of Additional Comments on Work Zone Safety Audits


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

ATSSA          American Traffic Safety Services Association 
DOT              Department of Transportation
FHWA           Federal Highway Administration
FMCSA         Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
GIS               Geographical Information System 
IOP               Independent Oversight Process
ITS                Intelligent Transportation Systems
MUTCD         Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
NHTSA          National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
OSHA           Occupational Safety and Health Administration
RE                Resident Engineer
RFID             Radio Frequency Identification
RSA              Road Safety Audit
TCD              Traffic Control Devices
TMP              Transportation Management Plan
TTC               Temporary Traffic Control


1 INTRODUCTION

A questionnaire survey was administered in mid-July 2007 to collect pertinent information to help the research team prepare and refine strategies and methodologies for developing the national highway work zone safety audit guidelines.

The survey questionnaire is attached to this report in Appendix A , which consists of thirteen questions. Question one seeks expert opinion on the leading causes of highway work zone safety problems. Question two solicits inputs on effective measures for improving highway work zone safety. Question three inquires types of highway projects suitable for conducting work zone safety audits and desirable audit frequencies. Question four asks the appropriate project delivery stages for performing work zone safety audits. Question five asks for the lead entity of a highway work zone safety audit. Question six relates to the appropriate composition of a highway work zone safety audit team. Question seven inquires how to fund work zone safety audits. Question eight is concerned with the expected tasks for an audit team. Questions nine and ten investigate appropriate approaches to summarize audit findings, and useful tools for assisting work zone safety audits. Question eleven deals with construction worker safety in work zone safety audits. Question twelve specifically seeks opinion on whether the contractor should submit worker injury data to the project owner. Question thirteen pertains to safety training requirement for major parties involving in the project. The questionnaire also provides spaces for respondents to supply with additional comments.

The expert database maintained by the National Work Zone Information Clearing House was used to solicit potential respondents. A total of 604 experts on highway work zone safety and mobility from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), state transportation agencies, local government agencies, private consultants, equipment vendors, general contractors, universities/research institutions, and professional associations in the United States were selected and contacted via a mass email. The email contained a link to the online survey Website. An electronic copy of the questionnaire in fillable PDF format was also attached to the email to allow more options to participate in the survey. A respondent may choose to submit the completed survey online, via email, or by fax.

The survey period lasted for 4 weeks. A total of 85 respondents returned their questionnaire. Of which, 57 completed the survey through the Website, 9 responded by email, and 19 responded their responses by fax. The following sections discuss the survey results. Appendix B summarizes the responses in graphs.

2 SURVEY RESULTS

2.1 Employment Distribution

Providing employer information is optional in the survey. Table 2-1 presents a breakdown of the employment information on the eighty five respondents in numbers and percentage respectively. Among the responded, 16 percent did not provide employment information. A majority of the respondents (44 percent) are employed by state transportation agencies. The other respondents work for a wide range of employers with 24 percent from local agencies, 15 percent from Federal agencies, 7 percent from university/research institution, 5 percent from private consultants, and 1 percent from the construction industry. The 4 percent respondents in the “others” employment category include one from an association, a labor union, and a roadway safety hardware manufacture, respectively.

TABLE 2-1 Employment Breakdown of the Respondents
Employment Responses
No. %
State transportation agenices 37 44%
Local government agencies 20 24%
Federal agencies 13 15%
Universities/research institutions 6 7%
Private consultants 4 5%
General contractors 1 1%
Others 3 4%

2.2 Leading Causes of Highway Work Zone Safety Problems

Table 2-2 summarizes the responses to the leading primary causes of highway work zone safety problems. The top leading causes of work zone safety problems are found to include: inadequate work zone setup (40 percent), Inadequate pre-construction planning (36 percent), deficient work zone speed enforcement (35 percent), inadequate or inefficient temporary traffic controls (34 percent), and inadequate implementation of traffic and construction rules and regulations (31 percent).

For the 29 percent of the responses in the “others” category, the causes include too many signs at the work zone, lack of coordination with other projects in the vicinity and miscommunications among different parties, work zone induced congestion and vehicle delays, lack of knowledge on highway work zones among permit officers in state and local agencies, unattended drive behavior, and insufficient highway capacity.

TABLE 2-2 Leading Causes of Highway Work Zone Safety Problems
Primary Causes leading to work zone crashes Responses
No. %
Inadequate work zone setup 34 40%
Inadequate pre-construction planning 31 36%
Deficient work zone speed enforcement, such as police patrol, photo enforcement, etc. 30 35%
Inadequate/inefficient temporary traffic controls 29 34%
Inadequate implementation of/compliance with traffic and const. safety rules and regulations 26 31%
Lack of work zone safety outreach and education to road users 25 29%
Lack of work zone information disseminated to the traveling public 24 28%
Malfunctioning and lack of maintenance of traffic control devices 23 27%
Lack of positive separation between work activity areas and the traveled way 19 22%
Insufficient work zone safety training to work zone participants 19 22%
Long project construction duration 13 15%
Others 25 29%

2.3 Effective Measures for Improving Highway Work Zone Safety

As shown in Table 2-3, the most effective measures for improving work zone safety include periodic work zone safety review or inspection (74 percent), public outreach and education (64 percent), innovative contracting methods to reduce construction duration (56 percent), innovative construction methods to minimize traffic disruption during construction (53 percent), corridor- or network-level project planning to minimize the impact of road work (46 percent), and dissemination of accurate lane closure and delay information to road users (46 percent).

Among the 29 percent “others” effective measures, three respondents recommend proper enforcement; One respondent suggests the need for quality Transportation Management Plans (TMPs); some respondents mentioned the need for adequate use and maintenance of traffic control devices. Other measures referred by the respondents include: higher speeds limits in absence of workers in operation areas; sufficient funding to plan, design, and construct durable and adequate roadways; use of full-time freeway closures when available; conduction of vehicle crash analysis during project development and construction; regular training; implementation of staged closures and development of alternative routes; better lane channelization; use of positive barriers; development of internal traffic control plans; adoption of best-value contracting (instead of low bid); partnership with law enforcement; clear terms of responsibility between project owner and contractor; and deployment of work zone Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).

TABLE 2-3 Effective Measures for Improving Highway Work Zone Safety
Effective Measures Response
No. %
Periodic work zone safety review/inspection 63 74%
Public outreach and education on work zone safety issues 54 64%
Innovative contracting methods to reduce construction duration 48 56%
Innovative construction methods to minimize traffic disruption during construction 45 53%
Corridor/network level project planning to minimize the impact of road work 39 46%
Disseminate accurate lane closure and delay info. to road users, both pre-trip and en-route 39 46%
Innovative materials and design to extend facility service lives 24 28%
Increase the use of nighttime construction 20 24%
Others 25 29%

2.4 Types of Highway Projects Suitable for Work Zone Safety Audits and Audit Frequencies

According to the FHWA’s Rule on Work Zone Safety and Mobility (FHWA 2004), a project can be classified into three categories: major, minor, and minimal based on its significance. As shown in Table 2-4, an overwhelm 95 percent of the regents recommend safety audits for major reconstruction projects. In terms of audit frequency, 56 percent believe that a safety audit be performed as needed. Eight-two percent respondents support the need for work zone safety audits for minor highway preservation projects. Of which, 32 percent suggest that highway work zone safety audits be performed as needed, 25 percent suggest one time only, and 14 percent recommend once a year as the desirable frequency. Seventy-one percent recommend safety audits for minimal maintenance projects with 35 percent respondents supporting auditing as needed, thirteen percent for one time auditing, and 8 percent for once a year.

TABLE 2-4 Highway Projects Suitable for Work Zone Safety Auditing and Audit Frequencies
Project Significance Audit Suitability and Frequencies Responses
No. %
Major project Suitable for work zone safety auditing Yes 81 95%
Auditing frequencies Perform as needed
One time only
Once a year
Other frequency
48
19
2
13
56%
22%
2%
15%
Minor project Suitable for work zone safety auditing Yes 70 82%
Auditing frequencies Perform as needed
One time only
Once a year
Other frequency
27
21
12
11
32%
25%
14%
13%
Minimal project Suitable for work zone safety auditing Yes 60 71%
Auditing frequencies Perform as needed
One time only
Once a year
Other frequency
30
11
7
15
35%
13%
8%
18%

2.5 Appropriate Project Delivery Stages to Perform Highway Work Zone Safety Audits

Regarding the appropriate stage to perform highway work zone safety audits, a large number of respondents (78 percent) recommend the construction stage, 56 percent suggest the design and contracting stage, 20 percent support the planning stage, and 11 percent recommend the programming stage as shown in Table 2-5. In addition, 41 percent recommend safety audits at the post-construction stage.

TABLE 2-5 Appropriate Project Delivery Stages to Perform Highway Work Zone Safety Auditing
Project Delivery Stages Responses
No. %
Construction stage 66 78%
Design and contracting stage 48 56%
Post-construction stage (to examine the effectiveness of implemented measures) 35 41%
Planning stage 17 20%
Programming stage 9 11%

2.6 Lead Entity of Highway Work Zone Safety Audits

As shown in Table 2-6, state transportation agencies are recommended by 48 percent of the respondents as the responsible party to lead the effort for highway work zone safety audits. Forty percent recognize the importance of a partnership between the project owner, project owner’s consultant, and contractor in performing highway work zone safety audits.

TABLE 2-6 Leading Entity for the Conduction of Highway Work Zone Safety Auditing
Lead Entities Responses
No. %
State transportation agencies 41 48%
Partnership of the project owner, project owner's consultant, and contractor 34 40%
Federal Highway Administration 13 15%
Independent entities 8 9%
Others 11 13%

2.7 Composition of A Highway Work Zone Safety Audit Team

Table 2-7 summarizes the responses on the composition of a highway work zone safety audit team which shall be consisted of representatives from state transportation agencies (89 percent), FHWA (76 percent), highway contractors (75 percent), law enforcement personnel (62 percent), local government agencies (55 percent), road users (33 percent), independent consultants (27 percent), and project-affected communities (25 percent).

The “others” representatives in the survey include local emergency services such as fire, rescue, and emergency management services, traffic control suppliers, road owners, and roadway safety hardware manufacturers.

TABLE 2-7 Composition of Highway Work Zone Audit Team Members
Audit Team Members Responses Responses
No. %
State transportation agencies 76 89%
Federal agencies (FHWA, NHTSA, FMCSA, OSHA, etc.) 65 76%
Highway contractors 64 75%
Law enforcement 53 62%
Local governments 47 55%
Road users (commuters and truckers) 28 33%
Independent consultants 23 27%
Representatives of project affected communities 21 25%
Representatives of construction industry insurance agencies 7 8%
Representatives of auto insurance agencies 5 6%
Others 11 13%

2.8 Funding Sources for Highway Work Zone Safety Audits

As seen in Table 2-8, the recommended fund sources for highway work zone safety audits are: FHWA (44 percent), state transportation agencies (26 percent) and the project budget (14 percent). Among the thirty-two percent in the “others” funding category, seventeen respondents suggest independent entities. Other responded funding sources include national audit fund, a separate item in the project budget, project funding sources, And each participant’s agency.

TABLE 2-8 Funding Sources of Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
Auditing Funding Sources Responses Responses
No. %
Federal Highway Administration 37 44%
State transportation agencies 22 26%
The project budget 12 14%
Others 27 32%

2.9 Key Tasks of Highway Work Zone Safety Audits

The responses to key audit tasks are summarized in Table 2-9. Respondents assign high priorities on the following tasks: inspecting work zone sites to check the work zone setup and implementation of traffic control devices (91 percent), checking the road user’s driving behavior at work zones (78 percent), examining the configuration of activity area (75 percent), meeting managers of the project owner and contractor to discuss audit findings and reviewing project geometric design, construction plans, and transportation management plans (74 percent), observing construction workers working behavior (66 percent), reviewing crash data and reports (61 percent), familiarizing project basic information (59 percent), reviewing contractor’s work zone safety programs (53 percent), and checking training profiles of work zone participants and interviewing contractor’s project safety supervisors, inspectors, and workers (49 percent), reviewing project owner’s work zone safety programs (48 percent), interviewing project owner’s project safety managers and inspectors (44 percent).

The “others” tasks based on the responses include: nighttime reviews for effectiveness and reflectivity of traffic control devices, a two-stage audit process with one for design audit and the other for construction audit, checking the coordination of the project sequence with TMPs, and checking devices for compliance.

TABLE 2-9 Key Tasks of Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
Auditing Tasks Responses
No. %
Drive through the work zone to check temporary traffic devices and work zone setup 77 91%
Drive through the work zone to experience road users' driving behavior 66 78%
Drive through the construction site to check the configuration of activity area 64 75%
Review project geometric design, construction plans, and transportation management plans 63 74%
Meet with managers of the project owner and contractor to discuss audit findings 63 74%
Drive through the construction site to observe construction workers' working behavior 56 56%
Review crash data/reports 52 61%
Familiarize project basic information 50 59%
Review contractor's work zone safety programs 45 53%
Check the training profile of work zone participants 42 49%
Interview contractor's project safety supervisor, inspectors, and workers 42 49%
Review project owner's work zone safety programs 41 48%
Interview project owner's project safety manager and inspectors 37 44%
Others 9 11%

2.10 Approach to Summarize Audit Findings

As shown in Table 2-10, regarding how to present the audit finding, fifty-one percent respondents recommend a combination of written summary and scoring methods; forty-eight percent suggest a written summary to document good practices and identify areas for safety improvements;. Only 7 percent support the use of an overall score to qualitatively rate the work zone safety level of the project.

TABLE 2-10 Appropriate Approaches to Summarize Highway Work Zone Safety Audit Findings
Approach to Summarize Auditing Findings Responses
No. %
A written summary to document good practices and identify areas for safety improvements 41 48%
An overall score to qualitatively rate the work zone safety level for each project 6 7%
Combination of written summary and scoring methods 43 51%

2.11 Tools Useful For Assisting Highway Work Zone Safety Audits

The responses on useful tools for assisting safety audits are almost evenly distributed as shown in Table 2-11. Fifty-five percent of the respondents welcome the use of a computer-based prompt list, 54 percent support the use of an interactive computer tool, and 51 percent like the use of a hardcopy checklist.

Among the “others” possible tools, the responses include: Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based auditing tool, and videotaping the work zone to document actual conditions.

TABLE 2-11 Tools Helpful for Accomplishing Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
Useful Tools Responses
No. %
A computer-based prompt list that can be customized to specific work zone conditions 47 55%
An interactive computer tool that allows entering audit findings 46 54%
A hardcopy audit item checklist 43 51%
Others 10 12%

2.12 Construction Worker Safety in Work Zone Safety Audits

Table 2-12 summarizes the opinion on whether or not to consider construction worker safety in work zone safety audits. A majority of eighty percent believe that work zone safety audits shall cover worker safety inside the construction area. As a part of this effort, it is recommended to review construction workers’ safety training records and safety inspection records. Out of the eighty percent of respondents in favor of considering worker safety, 59 percent recommend reviewing construction workers’ safety training records but 21 percent object to reviewing construction worker’s safety training records.

Among the eighty percent of respondents in favor of considering worker safety audits, 64 percent suggest reviewing contractor’s safety inspection records during the construction-stage worker safety audit but 16 percent object to it.

TABLE 2-12 Worker Safety in the Highway Work Zone Safety Audits
Construction Worker Safety Responses
No. %
a) Should work zone safety audits consider construction worker safety inside the construction area? Yes
No
68
17
80%
20%
b) If answered “Yes” in part a), should construction worker safety audit review contractor's worker safety training records? Yes
No
50
18
59%
21%
c) If answered “Yes” in part a), should construction worker safety audit review contractor's safety inspection records? Yes
No
54
14
64%
16%

2.13 Construction Worker Injury Data

As shown Table 2-13, ninety-three percent out of the eighty five respondents provided feedback to this question. Of which, 60 percent recommend that the contractor should submit their worker injury data to the project owner on regular basis, but thirty-three percent object to it.

TABLE 2-13 Reporting Worker Injury Data to the Project Owner
Submission of Worker Injury Data Responses
No. %
Should the contractor submit its worker injury data to the project owner on a regular basis (e.g., weekly)? Yes
No
51
28
60%
33%

2.14 Requirements of Project Personnel for Safety Training

There is a general consensus in the need for project personnel to receive adequate safety training. As shown in Table 2-14, 95 percent of the respondents believe that the contractor’s project managers need to receive safety training; eighty-five percent suggest the need for project owner’s representatives and construction workers to receive safety training, respectively. Seventy-six percent recommend project owner’s consultants to receive safety training.

TABLE 2-14 Project Personnel in Need of Work Zone Safety Training
Project Personnel Classification Response
No. %
Contractor's project managers 81 95%
Project owner's representatives 72 85%
Construction workers 72 85%
Project owner's consultants 65 76%
Others 19 22%

2.15 Additional Comments

The survey respondents provided more insights by supplying their returned surveys with specific comments. Thirty out of the 85 respondents (35 percent) provided additional comments on issues related to the conduction of work zone safety audits, as listed in Table 2-15. The comments addressed by the respondents can generally be classified into four categories: engineering, enforcement, education, and execution of work zone safety audits. Many of these comments are consistent with the findings from the review of existing literature on highway work zone safety.

The comments on engineering issues mainly emphasized multi-entity partnerships, transportation management plans (transportation operations management, temporary traffic control, and public information), and work zone safety impact assessment. Forming a strong partnership among the project owner, FHWA, contractor, and law enforcement was mentioned to be critical to improve the overall work zone safety. Establishing an agency-level work zone safety management program could provide a direct venue to foster an effective partnership. In addition, maintaining close communication between the road users and construction crew was mentioned to be important in securing the optimal balance between the road user and construction worker safety. The respondents also proposed to clearly stipulate the legal responsibilities of all entities involving a specific highway project. When a highway project involves a high percentage of Hispanic workers, the project safety related documents shall be prepared in both English and Spanish.

The preparation of transportation management plans was recommended to begin at the project early planning stage. Considering over build the project by acquiring excessive right-of-way, the network impacts of the project, and adequate detours and work zone accesses are crucial to produce effective transportation management plans. However, the respondents stressed the importance of the project owner’s role in ensuring the meticulous implementation of the plans by the contractor, monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of the implemented plans, and enhancing the plans as needed.

In the aspect of work zone safety impact assessment, there was a call for developing guidelines for collecting data to estimate the impacts of an isolated project on network-level safety and mobility. For any work zone safety impact assessment, alternative lane closure and incident management strategies must be given due considerations. Furthermore, it was recommended to include the assessment of contractor’s productivity versus worker safety within the general framework of work zone safety impact assessment. It was proposed to carry out cross comparisons of safety impacts of similar projects as a means to mitigate such impacts to be caused by similar projects in the future.

The MRUTC stipulates the minimum acceptable standards for deploying various types of roadway safety hardware, including signs (warning and regulatory-related and information-related), signals, lighting, detection devices, pavement markings and stripping, and guardrails, barriers, and crash cushions. Keeping the balance of sufficient, but not overloaded amount of hardware is a key concern in the process of developing a temporary traffic control plan. Equally important to this is to maintain an agency-level policy or process that promotes consistent traffic controls for all projects within the same agency.

Providing accurate, sufficient, and real time information to the traveling public, pre-trip and en route, is a key ITS function to effectively handle travel demand according to the adjusted highway capacity (i.e., the supply). This will avoid many work zone safety and mobility consequences caused by capacity reduction.

Enforcement has typically involved a law enforcement agent parked in a vehicle alone the project work zone observing for violations. It has been widely proven to be an effective means to improve work zone safety. However, this method is unsafe for the officer, expensive, and requires a lot of staff resources for the law enforcement agency. The use of ITS-oriented automated enforcement systems for speeding is a potentially effective way to deter high-risk driving behaviors, thus creating a change in behavior that will translate into a crash reduction. It was recommended to consider variable speed limits with and without workers’ presence in the work zone and during peak and off-peak period within a day to maximize mobility while maintaining high level of safety.

Education is one of the 3E principles (i.e., engineering, enforcement, and education) for safety enhancement. The process targets the education of general public and road users, and training of project owner’s and contractor’s staff. The materials for general education or training are recommended to be specifically prepared according to the individuals’ background. To ensure the effective delivery of education and training sessions, the trainers must receive adequate training before hand.

Some respondents urged to implement works zone safety audits to effectively comply with the requirements of the FHWA Final Rule on Work Zone Safety and Mobility. When conducting audits of road segment and intersection work zones, nighttime audits are highly recommended. Audits of projects in tourism areas need to be given specific considerations. Pedestrian issues were mentioned to be critical in urban intersection work zone safety auditing. The audit team members must be carefully assembled to ensure the efficiency of audit effort and fairness of audit findings. It was recommended to use a checklist to assist in auditing, but it was not recommended to use a scoring system for work zone safety audits to qualitative assess work zone safety level. It was highly recommended to reach a resolution between the project owner and audit team at the audit close-up meeting. For any concerns raised by the audit team, the acceptance of remedying measures proposed by the audit team and reason for declining the recommendations must be well documented and the audit report must be regarded as a part of project documents.

TABLE 2-15 Additional Comments Provided by Respondents
Topic Comments from Details
Organizational
Strategy
Colorado Work in close partnership with the FHWA to continually improve work zone safety evaluation processes
Michigan - The safety issues for each project should reflect the legal responsibilities as defined by current case histories
- Form strong partnerships with construction industry and enforcement
- Engage specialized teams to provide support when safety issues occur
- Perform weekly project site review
- Conduct post construction review
Texas Create a specific public awareness program for each major project
West Virginia Maintain close communication between highway users and construction crews to optimize the balance of road user and worker safety
Transportation
Management
Illinois Maintain adequate work zone accessibility during all stages of construction
North Carolina Pre-planning for network considerations and use alternative routes
Texas Project agency taking responsibility for TMP development, partnering with contractors for TMP implementation, and performing inspection
Virginia Begin developing TMPs at the project planning stage
West Virginia Move existing traffic to alternative routes and overbuild roadway features to allow room to separate traffic from the work areas
Work Zone
Safety
Impacts
Assessment
Colorado - Use statistical modeling to help direct resources to work zone areas with the most potential for safety improvements
- Need guidance for collecting and analyzing traffic delay data, systematically conducting this type of analysis on a regular basis, and implementing changes as necessary while the road work is ongoing
- Address productivity versus safety for construction workers on site
Michigan Review crash patterns on similar projects to reduce or eliminate crashes on the next project before they occur
Incident Management Illinois Consider incident management in work zone safety strategies
Pennsylvania Congestion management and mitigation is key to work zone safety
Lane Closure Florida Need for the FHWA to develop requirements for sidewalk closures
Illinois Practice ramp and road closures in the vicinity of work zones
Traffic
Control
District of
Columbia
Lack of personal knowledge of Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) in small towns reflects in poor work zone operations
Michigan Promote consistency in traffic control signing throughout agencies and conformation of proper signing. The Michigan DOT requires placing 8 signs before mobilizing a worker to the work zone area
West Virginia Innovative use of portable barriers, movable barriers, and work staging to provide barrier protected work areas or allow more lateral buffer space
Public Information Michigan Providing current information to road users to reduce work zone crashes
Pennsylvania Use ITS technologies to disseminate information to en-route travelers
TABLE 2-15 Additional Comments Provided by Respondents (Continued)
Topic Comments from Details
Enforcement District of
Columbia
Criticize the very poor operation by just placing a policeman at the work zone to direct traffic
Florida Emphasize the role of a national audit system in promoting work zone safety and the necessity of fining, if necessary, project shutdown in case of violation of rules by audit agencies
Michigan - More police presence to enforce the traveling public slow down when workers are in the operation area
- Have enforcement in the merge area of multilane reductions
- Use 45 mph speed limit when workers are present at the work zone site and raise speed limit when workers are not present
North Carolina Partner with law enforcement to provide visible speed reduction when lane closures happened
Utah Recommend videotaping of safety and traffic monitoring both within the worksites all major construction projects and their impacts on adjacent traffic corridors and other modes of transportation
Virginia - Law enforcement presence in work zones
- Driving behaviors are expected to change along with effective work zone speed limits
Education Arkansas Continue to educate the public and strive to get the monitoring public to adhere to work zone safety
Colorado Educate the public on hazards in work zones
Michigan Educate new drivers on work zone safety during drivers education
Nebraska Educate drivers to drive more safely in work zones
Training Colorado Have an executive level safety council set safety training courses
Michigan - Arrange contractor and staff training annually to keep staff up on current practices or correction issues
- Provide training to road users to reduce work zone crashes
Texas - Emphasize government agency review/inspection of on-job work activities by qualified employees
- Need specific training for consultants which may result in highest pay back of time and money
- Need better qualified work zone training instructors and better compensation to attract quality instructors
- Need specific training courses geared to trainees’ background, such as contractors, government agencies, and consultants
Virginia Better trained workers resulting in fewer mistakes made, and more consistent work zone traffic control applications
TABLE 2-15 Summary of Additional Comments on Work Zone Safety Audits (Continued)
Topic Comments from Details
Execution of
Work Zone
Safety Audits
Colorado/
Virginia
Implement work zone safety audits to meet the requirements of the FHWA Final Rule on Work Zone Safety and Mobility
Michigan  - When performing safety audits, the project items should be evaluated and either accepted, or accepted with corrections
- Perform nighttime inspections as part of work zone safety auditing
- No audit team should leave a project site that has identified safety concerns on a project without correcting those issues, which place the agency in a position of liability
- Develop plan to go with the work zone safety audits
Pennsylvania Integrate work zone safety audits with the FHWA's Independent Oversight Process (IOP) reviews
Puerto Rico - Perform an initial audit on the roadside, a second audit in the mainline pavement, and the third audit in the median
- For auditing intersection projects, the audit should incorporate all access and interviews from owners of the business in the perimeter of intersections
- For auditing projects in tourist’s areas, specifically seasonal areas like winter, summer, or weekends, special attention should be given to unfamiliar drivers
- Pedestrian issues in work zones in urban areas are extremely critical, particularly in areas with a high percentage of elderly people and children
- Perform nighttime inspections as part of work zone safety auditing
- Include prompt list/checklist both in Spanish and English particularly in construction projects that include a high percentage of Hispanic or Spanish speaking workers
Texas Perform monthly inspection on major projects by non-project personnel
Composition
of Audit
Team
Members
Michigan - Safety audits are important, but do not have values if they are used to criticize the project
- Bringing a “team of experts” into projects has shown to create more problems than help, unless the team consists of the right number of individuals who perform safety audits to provide support to the project owner and contractor
Summary of
Audit
Findings
Michigan No safety audit should provide a low score on a project. This indicates that the audit team is there to criticize, but not correct. Scoring systems should be abandoned

3 SUMMARY AND CONCLUDING REMARKS

The key findings of the survey are as follows:

  • The respondents identified the following leading causes that may result in highway work zone safety problems: inadequate work zone setup, inadequate pre-construction planning, deficient work zone speed enforcement, deficient temporary traffic controls including positive separation between work activity areas and the traveled way and overloaded signage, and malfunctioning and lack of maintenance of traffic control devices. In addition, they also recognize the following important causes: inadequate implementation of traffic and construction rules and regulation, lack of work zone safety outreach, information dissemination, and education and training to road users and other work zone participants. 
  • A majority of the respondents believe that periodic work zone safety review or inspection can significantly improve work zone safety. Other effective measures for enhancing work zone safety performance include: corridor- or network-level project planning to minimize the impact of road work, innovative materials and designs that reduce construction frequency, innovative contracting methods and adoption of best value contracting (instead of low bid) that reduce construction duration, and innovative construction methods to minimize traffic disruption during construction. Other effective measures also include quality TMPs; effective work zone impact assessment addressing mobility, safety, and productivity; analyzing vehicle crash patterns before/during construction, use of full or staged lane closures when available, provision of better lane channelization, greater use of positive barriers, appropriate use and maintenance of traffic control devices, deployment of work zone ITS installations, variable speed controls, police and photo enforcement, and partnership among state transportation agencies, FHWA, and enforcement. Creation of specific public awareness programs for outreaching and dissemination of accurate lane closure and delay information to road users pre-trip and en-route are also identified by respondents as useful for improving work zone safety.
  • A overwhelm majority of respondents recommend safety audits for all major, minor, and minimal projects at an as-needed basis.
  • A large number of respondents suggest the construction stage is appropriate to perform highway work zone safety audits. In addition, one-half of the respondents support safety audits at the design and contracting stage.
  • State transportation agencies are mentioned by one-half of the respondents as the entity to lead the effort of highway work zone safety audits. In addition, a partnership between the project owner, project owner’s consultant, and contractor is highly recommended.
  • The survey respondents recommend a work zone safety audit team to be consisted of members mainly from state transportation agencies, FHWA, highway contractors, and law enforcement although suggested memberships also include emergency services, local government agencies, road users, and project-affected communities.
  • The commended funding sources mainly include: FHWA, state transportation agencies, or the project budget. Some suggest having a “national audit fund”.   
  • The respondents consider the following important audit tasks: reviewing project geometric design, construction plans, and transportation management plans; reviewing transportation management plans ranging from examine work zone accessibility, lane closure, incident and emergency management during all stages of construction, coordination of the project sequence with transportation management plans, and measures to ensure the implementation and inspection of approved transportation management plans. Furthermore, respondents suggest reviewing crash data and reports, reviewing work zone safety programs of the project owner and contractor, checking training profiles of work zone participants, inspecting work zone sites to check the work zone setup, examining the adequacy and consistency of traffic control devices and safety hardware, checking the road users’ driving behavior and construction workers’ working behavior at work zones, examining the configuration of activity area, interviewing contractor’s project safety supervisors, inspectors, and workers, and meeting managers of the project owner and contractor to discuss audit findings. Respondents agree that audits must be performed both at daytime and at night.
  • A majority of respondents recommend reviewing of construction workers’ safety training profiles and contractor’s safety inspection records during the construction-stage worker safety audits. In addition, respondents support that the contractor should submit their worker injury data to the project owner on regular basis.
  • Respondents indicate that using one or more combination of hardcopy checklist, computer-based prompt list, interactive computer tool, GIS-based auditing tool, and videotaping would be helpful. Moreover, ease of use is very important for the tools. Check lists and prompt lists are desirable to be prepared in both English and Spanish languages.
  • Respondents are generally in favor of using a written summary to document good practices and identify areas for safety improvements, but they are against the use of an overall score to rate the work zone safety level of the project.       
APPENDICES

APPENDIX A: Questionnaire Survey on Highway Work Zone Safety Audits

APPENDIX B: Graphic Presentations of Survey Results

Last modified: 2/18/2008

Categories: Surveys | Training | Crash Causes | Best Practices | Inspection | Work Zone Safety | Worker Safety | Countermeasures