There is a joke in the Midwest that there are three seasons: summer, winter and construction cone.

Every year, across the country, workers are killed or injured in road construction work zones. In 2012, three Indiana construction workers were killed while in a work zone. So, the Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) has launched a statewide safety initiative aimed at reducing workplace transportation-related deaths.

In addition, the Indiana Department of Transportation is focusing on work zone safety with National Work Zone Awareness Week designated for April 15-19.

“INDOT’s top priority is the safety of workers and the motoring public,” INDOT Commissioner Michael Cline said. “Our goal is to provide a safe working environment and reduce injuries and crashes using proven safety methods.”

The state urges construction contractors and industry workers to develop, implement and enforce construction work zone safety policies and procedures.

“For Hoosier families, a transportation-related incident that takes the life of a loved one is a deep loss,” IDOL Commissioner Sean M. Keefer said, “This very real loss drives the Indiana Department of Labor to seek improvements to better educate the public and enforce workplace safety in construction work zones.”

Workers face many occupational safety hazards when working on roadway transportation projects, including:

  • Roadway work zones can be hazardous for motorists who can be confused by the signs, barrels and unfamiliar lane shifts. This is especially is true when motorists don’t slow down, stay alert and drive safely in these areas.
  • Highway and other roadway workers routinely work in close proximity to large construction equipment and fast-moving, motor vehicle traffic.
  • Flaggers and other workers on foot constantly are exposed to being struck by traffic or backed over by other work zone construction equipment if they are not visible to motorists or equipment operators at all times.
  • Workers who operate construction equipment are at risk for overturns, collisions or being caught in equipment.
  • Work zones often are noisy work environments due to motor vehicle traffic as well as heavy equipment operations.

“The Indiana Department of Labor will work with companies, associations and industry representatives to proactively address transportation-related hazards and exposures,” added Keefer. “Working together, we can reduce the number and severity of transportation-related incidents in and near construction work zones.”

For more information about transportation safety and access to resources, please visit the Indiana Department of Labor’s transportation safety web site.