“Highway work zones are among the most dangerous workplaces in the United States,” says LIUNA General President Terence M. O’Sullivan, “and 40 percent of workers killed or injured are Laborers. We must eliminate this tragic and unnecessary loss. That is why LIUNA is pleased to join other key partners in forming an Alliance with OSHA and NIOSH to enhance safety and health in road construction operations.”

On average, two workers die every week on roadway work zones, and many more are injured.

The new Alliance links OSHA and NIOSH with the Roadway Work Zone Safety and Health Partners – LIUNA, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Many of the Partners have worked together for years in the development of the award-winning Roadway Safety Program, a popular CD-based training program that now covers 14 common work zone hazards. With a click of the mouse, a viewer can switch from English to Spanish to Portuguese or from U.S. units to the metric system. The CD includes voice files so that an English-speaking instructor can play all the modules in Spanish or Portuguese. Also, the CD displays relevant OSHA standards and hazard-specific guidance from NIOSH and other sources. Developed originally under a Susan Harwood grant from OSHA, the Roadway Safety Program can be downloaded free of charge at http://wzsafety.tamu.edu/program_download/.

The Work Zone Safety and Health Partners, in alliance with OSHA and NIOSH, will now focus attention on the specific problems of flagger safety, safer deployment of traffic control devices, positive protection, night work, work zone speeding and runovers/backovers. It will endeavor to develop programs that are targeted to Spanish-speaking highway construction contractors and workers as well as other industry groups that are sometimes missed by current safety messages and programs.

The Alliance also will collaborate on efforts to advance highway safety through a communications program designed to tap Alliance members and their organizational resources. In particular, the Partners will encourage their local and regional affiliates to build relationships with OSHA’s Regional Area Offices and NIOSH’s Research Divisions. In one effort to facilitate these dialogues, the Partners will develop and disseminate case studies illustrating the business value of enhanced safety and health in highway construction.

“The Laborers have long been leaders in exposing the hazards of highway work and working to reduce and eliminate them,” says O’Sullivan. “We must continue to find ways to improve safety and health in and around these workplaces. With the combined talents and networks of this Alliance, real progress is possible in the years ahead.”

The formal agreement among the Partners, signed on January 25, 2007, at the U.S. Department of Labor, will be in effect for the next two years. Those who signed the agreement, in addition to General President O’Sullivan, included Edwin G. Foulke, Assistant Secretary, OSHA; John Howard, M.D., Director, NIOSH; James C. Roberts, Chairman, NAPA; C. Michael Walton, Chairman, ARTBA; Vincent J. Giblin, General President, IUOE and Harry L. Mashburn, President, AGC.

[Steve Clark]