Construction Work and Roadworks Injuries in Washington State: Can We Prevent Them?

Drive Slower to Reduce Construction Job Injuries on Tacoma Highway Projects

Recently, I noticed that reading panels throughout that area ask drivers to slow down to help construction workers. The City of Tacoma is working hard to prevent workplace accidents. Bright orange speed limit signs, penalty warning signs, and plaque reading messages are spread across multiple zones. Unfortunately, based on my observations, all of these efforts are unsuccessful. Drivers do not slow down in this area of ‚Äč‚ÄčTacoma. To make matters worse, most faster drivers regularly express their contempt for safe drivers. In fact, drivers who obey the new speed requirements provoke the ire of local motorists and experience unfriendly attacks.

Statistics of injuries and deaths of workers at work in road construction

In the US, about 3 workers die every day from traffic-related car accidents. These statistics come from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). If you think about it, it adds up to more than 1000 work injury cases that result in the death of the worker.

Interestingly, the state of Washington receives federal funding from NIOSH to track work-related deaths following a traumatic injury on the job. The program responsible for tracking the data is called the Washington Death Assessment and Monitoring Assessment (FACE). More information on workplace fatalities and the FACE program can be found on the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) website.

According to FACE, motor vehicle accidents accounted for 21% of construction job fatalities in Washington State from 1998 to 2019. These staggering statistics refer to fatalities alone. They do not take into account other serious non-fatal work accidents that happen on the road.

All drivers must help prevent road injuries and workplace accidents.

For me, the speed limits in the work zone are not an inconvenience or a suggestion. These lower speed limits are necessary to protect construction and highway workers. Consequently, speed limit signs are there to prevent injury and death to construction workers.

In my posts, I often write about the importance of increasing safety in the workplace. I often put that burden on employers. However, in this case it is up to us drivers to prevent accidents at work. Road construction zones are an area in which we must all do our part to make it less dangerous for road workers. That means slowing down and following signs and directions. By staying alert and vigilant, we can prevent work-related injuries and help keep our road workers safe.

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