Safety for Everyone at Work on the Roadside

The annual Cone Zone campaign revs up in May to raise awareness of hazards people face when they work on the roadside, including truck drivers who need to stop unexpectedly.

Flat tires happen. So do coolant leaks and mechanical problems. Drivers need to be as prepared as possible for the unexpected because, sometimes, you need to stop and deal with a situation. For truck drivers, the roadside can be a hazardous place to work, with narrow work areas, blind corners, adverse environmental conditions, and other vehicles passing at high speeds.

Knowing how to set up a safe work zone on the side of the road is essential. Employers must ensure their drivers have had job-specific training on how to set up a cone zone. The necessary safety tools include high-visibility vests, safety triangles and cones, emergency lights, and flares.

Stopping Safely on the Roadside

Depending on the situation, drivers need to assess the following as quickly as possible:

  • Is this a safe area to pull over? Are there better options down the road?
    ● Am I pulling over far enough that I’m not sitting on the fog line?
    ● Can I exit the vehicle safely and work around the truck without crossing the fog line?
    ● Can I position the truck so it acts as a barrier between me and other vehicles?
    ● Do I need to call 911 immediately?
    ● Is my placement of cones, triangles, and road flares giving other motorists enough time to react so they can slow down and change lanes?

Setting up Your Cone Zone

Drivers of oncoming vehicles need to see a truck that’s pulled over. To make that happen, drivers need to:

  1. Make sure emergency flashers are on, along with brakes. If possible, exit the cab on the side away from traffic, using the 3-point contact, as always.
  2. Secure the scene with evenly spaced cones or triangles to direct traffic away from you and your vehicle.
  3. Call your dispatcher/supervisor to inform them of the breakdown.
  4. If it is safe to do so, stay in your vehicle after setting up the cones/triangles. Do not wait in front of or behind the vehicle.

Cone Zone Campaign Starts in May

BC’s annual Cone Zone campaign reminds drivers to slow down and pull over when they see flashing lights of any colour (not just red and blue). It’s also a call for employers to keep their drivers’ safety top of mind. Drivers need to know the hazards and how to mitigate them. In addition to the risk of being hit by another vehicle, drivers on the roadside face the risks of slips, trips, and falls; cuts and burns; musculoskeletal injuries; inhalation of smoke or vapours; and, unsurprisingly, stress.

Thousands of people in BC work in roadside Cone Zones. This includes road maintenance workers, utility workers, landscapers, emergency crews, law enforcement personnel, and many more. Keeping all roadside workers safe is the goal of the annual Cone Zone campaign established by the Work Zone Safety Alliance in 2011.

Source: Safety Driven: Trucking Safety Council of BC

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