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 _ District 11 - Maintenance Department
 Highway Worker Safety

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.

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 and Instruction
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 safety.

Shadow Vehicle
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.
Barrier Vehicle
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.
Driver Training
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.

Signs, Cones
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.

Safety Apparel
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.

Specialty Equipment
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 outrigger vehicles.
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 (MAZEEP)
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 highway workers!

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