Traffic on state freeway is steadily increasing.
As traffic increases, the challenge of building and maintaining
the California highway system becomes more difficult. As the system
ages, the workload increases, exposing thousands of workers to more
and more dangers operating alongside speeding traffic. Highway workers
constantly face the threat of injury or even death. In the past
20 years, more than 50 highway workers have been killed on the job
by out-of-control motorists.
JACK HAMMER PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
A new California Highway Worker Campaign using the slogan "Slow
in the Cone Zone" campaign has been in use since 1998. This
is the fourth public awareness campaign in California since the
late 1970's. The first effort was "Be Aware Out There,"
followed by "Give 'em a Brake."
Minimized Night Work
As a general policy, night work has been minimized. However, when
night work is necessary, all workers are required to wear white
reflective coveralls while on the job. The policy calls for all
planned maintenance and construction related lane closures to be
evaluated to minimize night work, maximize highway worker safety,
minimize accidents, and hold traffic congestion to the lowest level.
Traffic specialists analyze each proposed closure and recommend
specific times of day or on weekends when the work should be carried
out. A greater effort is made to notify motorists prior to ramp
and lane closures through the broadcast media. On certain projects
where traffic specialists determine the need, Caltrans has a California
Highway Patrol officer monitoring night work closures.
Construction and Maintenance Safety Orientation
New construction employees and employees returning to the field
after a five year absence are given a Construction Safety Orientation.
The training reviews hazards, Cal/OSHA safety regulations and safety
precautions relating to various areas of field construction through
use of slides, lecture and written exam. "Tailgate" safety
meetings are held every other week. Thereafter, employees meet once
a year for a minimum of four hours for a review and an update of
safety procedures. The Maintenance Safety Employee Orientation instructs
new field maintenance workers on potential job hazards, including:
worker protection, hazardous substances, confined space, proper
lifting, equipment, tools, poisonous plants, communication and work
site behavior. Employees are kept informed of all safety requirements
through periodic instruction and tailgate safety meetings. Every
employee is encouraged to take the standard American Red Cross first
aid course, and if possible, the advanced course. At least one member
of each work crew is trained in first aid. Other mandated training
could include: avalanche safety, pesticide safety, tree worker safety
and rescue, work area protection and traffic control, and blasting
Shadow vehicles are used in moving lane closures. A truck follows
the operation a short distance behind, giving physical protection
from traffic. Its purpose is to provide protection for the crew
and their vehicles involved in the maintenance activity. The minimum
size for a shadow vehicle is a two-ton truck equipped with a rear-mounted
crash cushion. If a collision occurs, the crash cushion softens
the blow to the drivers of both vehicles.
A barrier vehicle is parked in advance of a maintenance worksite.
It is a heavy, unoccupied vehicle and is very carefully positioned
so that it will intercept errant vehicles, without rolling ahead
into the work area. The purpose of a barrier vehicle is to provide
physical protection for crews in the cone zone. The barrier vehicle
may be equipped with a truck-mounted crash cushion.
Advance Warning Vehicle
This vehicle is stationed a considerable distance in advance of
a moving or stationary maintenance operation. Its purpose is to
display sign messages which will advise motorists of what to expect
ahead. If the vehicle encroaches on a freeway lane, it is fitted
with a truck-mounted crash cushion.
The objective of the District Driving Program is to eliminate preventable
vehicle accidents. To meet this objective, two programs are undertaken
- one of prevention and one of cure. The prevention consists of
screening the driving record of each potential employee who could
be expected to drive a vehicle as part of the employee's work and
providing Defensive Driving Training. The cure program is a refresher
driver training (a minimum of three hours) every four years for
employees who drive on state business and appropriate disciplinary
action for problem drivers of state equipment. Caltrans is also
working with the California Association of Safety Educators to develop
a curriculum, including a video tape, for use in more than 900 driver
education classes statewide. This ongoing program educates new generations
of drivers in how to drive safely near work zones.
OTHER SAFETY EQUIPMENT
Orange signs and traffic cones are used to direct the public around
a worksite. During night lane closures, traffic cones are either
illuminated or are affixed with reflectorized cone sleeves. Advanced
warning signs are either illuminated or are reflectorized sheeting.
Changeable message signs are used to provide additional awareness
to the travelling public.
Caltrans employees must wear personal protective equipment when
usage will contribute to prevention of injury. Such safety apparel
is provided by the department and includes: hard hats, gloves, orange
vests or shirts, goggles or safety glasses, respirators, ear plugs
and other appropriate equipment.
At night, special attention is given to the problem of reduced visibility
in protecting both workers and motorists. Employees are required
to wear white overalls and reflective vests. Sufficient lighting
must be in place to allow motorists to identify workers.
Equipment has been designed and built during the years to increase
productivity and protect maintenance workers. A partial list of
these items includes truck-mounted crash cushions, litter machines,
cone trucks, pavement marker trucks, crack sealing vehicle and spray
In construction, temporary concrete barriers are installed to protect
the construction workers. An addition of changeable message signs
is also be included as specialty equipment on construction projects.
Maintenance Zone Enhanced Enforcement Program
California Highway Patrol officers are used on certain
construction and maintenance projects to reduce the speed of traffic
in work zones. This program has been very effective in enhancing
highway worker safety. Excess speed is the number one killer of