Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program
Photo collage: temporary lane closure, road marking installation, cone with mounted warning light, and drum separated work zones.
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Worker Safety

The leading cause of highway construction worker injuries and fatalities is contact with construction vehicles, objects, and equipment. These injuries and deaths are preventable through a number of good practices.

As our highway infrastructure ages, many transportation agencies are focusing on rebuilding and improving existing roadways. This means more roadwork is being performed on roadways that are open to traffic. At the same time, traffic continues to grow and create more congestion, particularly in urban areas. To avoid major queues during peak travel periods, urban areas are seeing more night work. The combination of more work done alongside increasingly heavier traffic and greater use of night work can result in increased safety considerations for highway workers. However, there are regulations and available resources on good practices that can help workers perform their jobs safely.

Worker Visibility

Temporary Traffic Control

Worker Safety for Highway Construction Standard

ANSI/ASSE A10.47-2009: Work Zone Safety for Highway Construction became effective on February 24, 2010 and applies to workers engaged in construction, utility work, maintenance, or repair activities on any area of a highway. It covers practices including Flagger Safety, Runover/Backover Prevention, Equipment Operator Safety, Illumination, Personal Protective Equipment, and more.


Facts and Statistics

The following facts and statistics were obtained using data from a presentation on Injury Hazards in Road and Bridge Construction (PDF 12.4MB), Fatal Occupational Injuries at Road Construction Sites (PDF 253KB), and Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, unless otherwise noted.

  • Injuries: Each year over 20,000 workers are injured in road construction work zones. Between 2003-2008, these injuries were caused by:
    • Contact with objects or equipment (35%)
    • Slips, trips, or falls (20%)
    • Overexertion (15%)
    • Transportation incidents (12%)
    • Exposure to harmful substances or environments (5%).
  • Fatalities: There were 106 workplace fatalities at road construction sites in 2010. Fatalities at road construction sites typically account for 1.5% to 3% of all workplace fatalities annually.
  • Fatality Trends: Roadway construction worker fatalities reached a high point in 2005 with 165 fatalities. Between 2005 and 2008 the numbers declined, then rose slightly in 2009, and declined again in 2010.
    Roadway Construction Worker Fatalities Trends
    Year # of fatalities % change from prior year % change from 2005
    2010 106 −9% −36%
    2009 116 +15% −30%
    2008 101 −5% −39%
    2007 106 −24% −36%
    2006 139 −16% −16%
    2005 165
  • Fatality Causes: The primary causes of worker fatalities in recent years were:
    • Runovers/backovers (often by dump trucks): 48%
    • Collision Between Vehicles/Mobile Equipment: 14%
    • Caught in Between/Struck by Construction Equipment and Objects: 14%
  • Runovers/Backovers: Nearly half of worker fatalities are caused when workers are run over or backed over by vehicles or mobile equipment. More than half of these fatalities were workers struck by construction vehicles.
    • Between 2005 and 2010 runovers/backovers were the cause of an average of 48% of worker fatalities. In 2010 runovers/backovers were the cause of 43% of worker fatalities, a slight decline from 2009 (46%)
    • For these types of fatalities, between 2003 and 2007, more workers were struck and killed by construction vehicles (38%) than by cars, vans, and tractor-trailers (33%).
  • Vehicle Collisions: The second most common cause of worker fatalities are collisions between vehicles/mobile equipment.
    • Between 2005 and 2010 this was the cause of an average of 14% of worker fatalities each year. In 2010 this was the cause of 19% of worker fatalities. This is a slight increase from 2009 (16%).
  • Caught in Between or Struck by Object: The third most common cause of worker fatalities are workers caught between or struck by construction equipment and objects.
    • Between 2005 and 2010 this was the cause of an average of 14% of worker fatalities. In 2010 this was the cause of 8% of worker fatalities. This is a decline from 2009 (16%) and the lowest reported number in recent years.

Additional Resources