Every day thousands of workers in British Columbia work in the “Cone Zone,” potentially high-risk environments in close proximity to traffic.
They include municipal workers, landscapers, flag people, tow-truck drivers, road-construction and road-maintenance workers, telecommunications and utility workers, and emergency and enforcement personnel.
To make drivers more aware of the dangers, today, the Work Zone Safety Alliance has launched the “Cone Zone” campaign, a road safety initiative that encourages drivers to take care when driving near roadside workers.
“Safety is our number one priority and the ministry and our contractors work very hard to ensure both the safety of motorists and workers on all our projects throughout the province,” notes Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Blair Lekstrom. “It’s going to be a busy construction season on and around our highways, so please drive with caution around roadside workers.”
In the last ten years, 386 WorkSafeBC claims were made by workers — typically working in Cone Zones — who were struck by motor vehicles. Of the claims, 46 percent were classified as serious injuries and 3 percent resulted in the death of the worker.
“Many times drivers don’t associate traffic cones with worker safety,” says Donna Wilson, WorkSafeBC vice-president of industry services and sustainability, “but it very much is. In collaboration with our partners, this initiative can help to reduce these dangers and the risk of injury to workers.”
The campaign will focus on messages around reducing driving speed, avoiding driver distraction, and instilling respect for the roadside as a workplace. The objective of the campaign is to reduce the number of deaths and injuries of workers by increasing awareness of the vulnerability of people working at the side of the road in the “Cone Zone.”
“The safety of all road users is the goal here,” says Allan Lamb, executive director of the BCAA Road Safety Foundation. “Too many flag people, tow-truck drivers, emergency response workers and others have been killed or injured while doing their job. The road is their workplace and deserves the same level of safety as any other workplace.”
The summer months see an increase in roadside work throughout the province. The “Cone Zone” message expands beyond the messages of two other initiatives — WorkSafeBC’s “Slow Down” signage campaign aimed at large construction projects, and the provincial government legislation that requires drivers to “slow down and move over” when approaching emergency vehicles stopped at the side of the road — to encompass all roadside workers.
The Cone Zone campaign is a joint provincial initiative supported by organizations committed to improving the safety of roadside workers. They are BCAA Road Safety Foundation, BC Ambulance Service, BC Construction Safety Alliance, BC Flagging Association, BC Hydro, BC Landscape and Nursery Association, BC Municipal Safety Association, B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, FortisBC, ICBC, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Telus, The Community Against Preventable Injuries, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, Lower Mainland police, and WorkSafeBC.
When you enter the “Cone Zone,” reduce your speed, pay attention, and be respectful of the roadside workers and their workplace. For more information about roadside worker safety visit WorkSafeBC.com or www.BCAATSF.ca.