Working Near Roads: The Deadly Shoulder


Not all workers who are involved in vehicle struck-by accidents are road construction workers. In fact, many of them are builders, groundskeepers, tradesmen and workers in other areas of maintenance and construction. Working near roads, regardless of how busy the traffic may be, is always a serious risk that cannot be ignored. Drivers are distracted now more than ever with texting, GPS, phone calls and much more. When you have workers who are within 25 feet of a roadway, you should be taking enough precautions to protect them from distracted drivers and the dangers of the deadly road shoulders.

Take a moment to think about the last few times you saw the aftermath of traffic crashes. There is a good chance that you may have seen a car or two in the ditch, pushed past the sidewalk, on someone’s front lawn, or passed through a fence or crashed into a tree. When accidents happen, the car’s final stopping location may be anywhere but the road. Setting up temporary road signage, even for home renovation, roofing, window replacement or anything excluding road work, may seem foreign to most contractors, but doing so may give motorists the caution they need to slow down sufficiently to be aware of your employees. Advanced warning temporary signs for road traffic may be regulated by your local laws, but looking into what is required based off the city may be worthwhile if you plan on working near roads often. Something as simple as a “Caution, Workers Ahead” sign, placed up the road may slow down traffic and make the site safer.

The importance of a traffic cone cannot be understated. Even on residential roads with minimal traffic, a safety cone may mean the difference between a close call or nothing at all. Do you work out of a vehicle or trailer? If so, that may mean you are stationed in a parking lot, roadside, or a road shoulder. Having something as simple as a road cone placed a foot or so away from each road-side corner of your vehicle will warn drivers that someone is there or that something is going on.

Residential areas can be some of the most dangerous, as many people may let their guard down and may not think twice before walking around the vehicle into the roadway without looking.

Branding and uniform apparel is something that a lot of contractors and builders seem to have in common. More so recently, fashion trends in these areas have emphasized earth-toned colors for shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and pants. A large growth of camo-themed company attire has taken the appeal of many. While it is probably one of the last thoughts of someone who works inside or on the exterior of a building, wearing highly visible clothing should always be considered. The last thing you would want to be wearing is something that blends you right into the backdrop of your surroundings. While ANSI class 1, 2, and 3 vests may not be required, outfitting your employees or encourage brights colors like orange, yellow, safety green and other bright colors. Avoid dark grey colors or the same color as your vehicle as possible, as these may it hard to been seen by passing by cars. Wearing headlamps during early morning work may assist worker visibility to traffic as well.

Ensuring safety can be done at multiple levels, safety discussions such as tailgate talks, safety trainings, or just informal discussions can be performed to generate awareness of roadside safety. Talking to your staff about how they can protect themselves is instrumental to ensuring your employees stay safe, which leads to reduced injuries, lower workers’ compensation costs, and better worker morale. Talk to them today about roadside safety and the deadly shoulder.

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