Scott Schneider, CIH, is Chair of the A10.47 subcommittee, which oversees the new standard, “Work Zone Safety for Highway Construction” (ANSI/ASSE A10.47-2009). In this interview, Schneider discusses the need for this standard and explains how employers and workers can best incorporate A10.47 into their highway construction safety practices.
Please provide a brief description of your professional background and of your position as Director, Occupational Safety and Health, for Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America.
I hold a master’s degree in industrial hygiene from the University of Pittsburgh and am a Fellow member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. Since 1981, I have worked for various unions on construction safety and health issues. For the past 11 ½ years, I have been Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America, which is affiliated with the Laborers’ International Union of North America, a union representing about 500,000 (mostly construction workers) in the U.S. and Canada. The Fund works with the members and their contractors to help improve the health and safety of our members both on and off the job.
You are Chair of the A10.47 subcommittee, which oversees the new standard, “Work Zone Safety for Highway Construction” (ANSI/ASSE A10.47-2009). Why did you decide to get involved in the A10.47 subcommittee?
Many of our members do road construction, which is one of the more hazardous construction sectors. We have worked in partnership with contractors and other unions on work zone safety for many years so it was natural to want to develop an ANSI standard in this area.
What are some of the most common occupational injuries that occur in highway construction work zones? Are these expected to change or increase as more highway construction projects are undertaken as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009?
The most common hazards in work zones are being run over or backed over by a vehicle (both motorists and construction vehicles), electrocutions from hitting overhead power lines, trench collapses, sprain and strain injuries from lifting and carrying, hearing loss from noise exposure, exposure to silica, asphalt and cement, heat and cold exposures, slips, trips and falls.
The amount of work will increase under the ARRA/stimulus, but we hope that through our efforts, the number and rate of injuries will not increase.
The A10.47 standard calls for a qualified person who is trained in traffic control supervision to perform daily inspections of the work zone’s traffic control setup. What key items should this person look for when conducting an inspection?
We are working on training materials for supervisors to help them ensure work zones are set up properly. The qualified person would check the work zone’s setup to ensure that it complies with Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and that motorists are properly warned of what is to come. If signs or barriers are out of position, they must ensure it is quickly corrected.
How are escape paths determined for flaggers?
Often this means having a gap in the barrier wall that they can escape behind. All flaggers should have a predetermined escape path in case they need to get out of the way of an errant vehicle or flying objects.
Why does use of automated flagger assist devices (AFADs) require approval from FHWA and other agencies?
FHWA has just recently authorized the use of AFADs in the new MUTCD last December, but some states have not yet adopted the new MUTCD and do not yet allow their use.
When developing internal traffic control plans for inside their work zones, in what ways can employers minimize backups and other conflicts between workers and work vehicles/equipment?
Develop clear paths for pedestrians that are traffic-free zones and make them conspicuous. Ensure that all vehicles entering the work area know where they should drive and where not to drive. Place parking areas, rest areas and toilet facilities in an area that is easily and safely accessible by foot. Develop one-way routes through the work area to minimize backing. Although not always possible, it is another good idea to establish “workerfree zones” to keep workers on foot separated from moving vehicles and machinery.
What guidelines should workers follow when locating and marking underground installations at a highway construction work zone?
Call 811 to help locate underground utilities before work starts. When you are not sure exactly where it is, you should dig by hand or use an air knife.
What safeguards should fall protection systems used in highway construction work zones have?
Most falls in work zones are on the same level, except in bridge work or overpasses and around trenches. Guardrails should be used wherever possible. Where they are not, fall protection systems should be used.
Workers in highway construction work zones can be exposed to potential health hazards, including:
- Extreme temperatures
- Airborne hazards
- Animal and plant hazards
- Dermal hazards
- Hazardous chemicals and other materials
- Solar radiation
- Disruption of normal sleep cycle during night work operations
Does the A10.47 standard outline specific recommendations or controls for the above hazards based on geographical location and/or time zone?
No. These health hazards, other than noise, will be addressed in the A10.49 standard, which is currently under development. Noise hazards are covered in A10.46.
According to the A10.47 standard, how can employers best ensure that employees consistently wear appropriate PPE when working in a highway construction work zone?
Ensure that all workers wear at least Class II clothing. Class III should be worn at night. This clothing should also be properly maintained and cleaned to maintain its retroreflectivity. Wearing appropriate PPE when working in highway construction should be second nature and a way of doing things. It should be placed at the same priority level as being on time, production, etc.
What did you consider to be the most challenging part of the A10.47 standard’s development process?
Developing consensus from such a large diverse group of SH&E professionals.
What revisions, if any, are planned for the next version of the A10.47 standard?
Revisions will need to be made to align it with the newly issued MUTCD and/or any new laws or updates issued by FHWA.
Scott Schneider, CIH, is the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA). The Fund is a non-profit associated with the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), which represents 500,000 primarily construction workers in the U.S. and Canada. He has been with the Fund for 11 years.
Schneider holds a master’s degree in industrial hygiene from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Michigan. For the past 29 years, he has done occupational safety and health work for the labor movement.
(The information included on this page is submitted by American Society of Safety Engineers.)