Most drivers hate highway construction sites. The speed limit is reduced. Lanes suddenly end causing a back-up in traffic. Lanes are narrower than usual and signs can be confusing. There is a higher than usual risk of work zone accidents.
As dangerous as work zones are for drivers, they are even more dangerous for the thousands of workers who build and maintain our nation’s streets, highways and bridges. In 2013, 105 workers died at roadside construction sites. Sixteen of these deaths occurred in Pennsylvania; six occurred in New Jersey.
Dangers in PA and NJ Highway Work Zones
Why are road construction zones listed among the most dangerous workplaces? Road workers face the same hazards as other construction workers. They lift heavy loads. They use potentially dangerous tools and equipment. However, they do this work in an environment that includes traffic. One drunk, distracted, or impatient driver is all it takes for a workplace tragedy.
Common dangers facing road construction workers include:
- Distracted, drunk or reckless drivers
- Construction trucks may block the view of oncoming traffic
- Inadequate or improper posting of warning signs
- Lack of flagmen
- Dangerous machinery
- Unstable construction vehicles and equipment
- Elevated work surfaces
- Heavy loads and objects
- Lack of safety training
Protecting Highway Workers
Highway workers are protected by state and federal laws. These laws require lower speed limits in work zones as well as signs and lights that alert drivers when workers are present. In both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, fines for speeding and certain other traffic violations are doubled in work zones. Yet many drivers don’t take construction zone safety seriously. Unfortunately, it is highway workers who suffer.
Know Your Rights
Highway workers, like any other workers, who are injured on-the-job are eligible to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. If the injury is caused by a dangerous driver, the injured worker may request additional compensation from the person responsible for the accident. If your injury is caused by workplace negligence, you may have additional rights.
Special Rights for Municipal Contractors
If you are working on a highway or another public works project, your company has probably been hired as a contractor. There may be many other contractors at the site. If you are injured, it may be hard to determine who is responsible for workplace safety and who is liable for your injury. Call Ostroff Law. Our attorneys will review your accident and discuss your legal rights. Call (800) 818-8148 to schedule an appointment.