Overview of safety issues and statistics in highway work zones

Although work zones can be inconvenient and frustrating on Florida highways, maintenance and repairs are important for ongoing safety on the roadways. Unfortunately, the work zones established for these temporary activities can create safety risks as well. Although statistics indicate that fatalities resulting from work zone accidents decreased from 2007 to 2012, there are actions that can be taken to continue to minimize the risks.

Vehicle-related construction accidents can be some of the most deadly incidents, and from 2009 to 2013, more than 100 construction workers died each year in road-construction accidents in the nation. During that period, Florida was second only to Texas in the number of worker deaths in this type of incident. Florida also ranked among the top three states with the most crash fatalities occurring at maintenance and construction work zones in 2012.

Statistics from 2003 to 2007 showed that an estimated 50 percent of road construction fatalities involved mobile equipment or a vehicle striking a worker. In total, more than 8,000 deaths occurred in the construction industry during that time period. In evaluating the areas tied to fatalities, employers may focus on increasing safety education and other measures to reduce the potential for on-the-job deaths.

While personal vigilance is crucial in an active construction zone on a busy highway, a worker may be at risk due to factors that are beyond their control. Workers’ compensation may address issues such as medical treatment and lost wages during recovery time. However, additional legal action might be warranted in some cases if an accident was caused by a negligent third party.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Highway Work Zone Safety”, accessed on Jan. 13, 2015