Launching a four-year effort to enhance highway work zone safety nationwide, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on September 20 awarded the LHSFNA, Laborers-AGC and a consortium of partners a $4.1 million training grant.

“We’re proud that our two outstanding labor-management funds, along with their private and public sector partners, were selected to spearhead advances in work zone safety,” says LIUNA General President and Laborers-AGC Co-Chairman Terence M. O’Sullivan.“Based on past performance, we expect excellent results.”

Many of the partners – including Laborers-AGC, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) – worked with the LHSFNA over the past five years in the creation of Roadway Safety, the innovative, award-winning, CD-ROM-based safety training program that was developed under a grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Now, this group will be joined by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), which includes all state departments of transportation. The consortium will team with four expert subcontractors – the Texas Transportation Institute (a highly respected research institute), James Bryden (nationally known highway safety consultant), CNA Insurance (the nation’s largest roadway construction insurer) and FOF Communications (a partner in the original consortium and the designer of the modules on the CD) – to implement the grant.

Much of the work will entail wider safety training throughout the highway construction industry. The array of partners and their ample connections provide avenues of outreach into virtually every sector of the industry. A substantial part of the first-year activity will involve pushing OSHA 10-hour, Traffic Control/Flagger and other roadway safety training out to these audiences. Special efforts will be made to reach local government workers through the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) Centers in every state. Also, efforts will continue to target non-English-speaking workers and high-risk populations.

At the same time, work will begin on improving and expanding the quality of safety training materials, particularly for those responsible for setting up and maintaining highway work zones. In this regard, the Roadway Safety CD will serve as both a vehicle and a model for extended training. While a number of refinements to the present CD will be made, a companion CD, aimed at supervisors and management personnel, will also be developed. Then, in the final years of the grant, concerted efforts will be made to advance both worker and supervisor training on all fronts throughout the highway construction industry.

In the implementation of training and the development of new materials, emphasis will be placed on “struck-by” and night work hazards that are of paramount importance to improving work zone safety. More workers are killed by impacts inside the work zone than by any other cause, and night work is becoming increasingly common as a means to advance construction with minimal delays for highway users. Also, video clips of real workers telling the real stories of their work zone injuries will be incorporated into the new training media.

According to Scott Schneider, Director of Occupational Safety and Health at the LHSFNA, the grant is the largest ever received by the LHSFNA.“The success of the Roadway Safety partnership and its innovative CD paved the way for this grant. We showed that the diverse interests involved in highway construction could work together to produce a high-quality safety product. Now, we’re going to extend that effort.”

Since its introduction three years ago, thousands of Roadway Safety CDs have been distributed and the program has been downloaded more than 3000 times. It has established a new standard for versatility in occupational safety training materials, covering the 14 most common highway construction hazards and switching from English to Spanish to Portuguese with a click of the mouse.

“Laborers are, by far, the largest number of work zone fatalities and more LIUNA members die in roadway work zones than on any other kind of construction site,” says O’Sullivan. “Work zone hazards are a very serious problem for us, and this grant will go a long way toward reducing our risks. Better training at all levels of the industry is the key to improved safety performance.”