The BC Cone Zone campaign is reminding Prince Rupert and area drivers to slow down when approaching workers in a ‘cone zone’. The campaign is aimed at drivers, employers and workers to do their part to prevent injuries and deaths of roadside workers in the coastal northwest.
In 2020 there were 23 roadside workers injured in B.C. Between 2011 and 2020, 12 roadside workers were killed and 207 injured across the province a media release from Road Safety At Work, stated.
“One of the greatest risks to a roadside worker is a motor vehicle being driven through their workplace. Dangerous driving behaviour like speeding and distracted driving puts these workers at risk of injury and death,” Louise Yako program director of Road Safety At Work, said.
The risks to roadside workers are more prevalent in the summer months as roadside work increases at this time of year and traffic levels typically rise.
Warren Beal manager of Adventure Paving said on May 17, his employees have had many close calls with drivers not slowing down or paying attention. He cited a time when a car rear-ended another that had stopped in front of a flagger.
“Potentially he could have run the flagger over, so it’s a real hazard,” he said.
“When the road crews are out there most of them concentrating on their work. They rely on the flag people to keep them safe. So people travelling through the work zone at excessive speed puts the road crews at risk.”
Beal said if excessive speed is used through a listed construction zone drivers can receive double the fines. He has personally known of people losing their driver’s licence and having their car impounded. He stressed the police do monitor these zones.
In addition, under the “Slow Down, Move Over” law, drivers should be prepared to reduce speed and if safe to do so, move over to an open lane when approaching a vehicle with flashing amber, red, or blue lights (tow, fire, police, ambulance).
‘Cone Zones’ are work areas set up by roadside workers to protect themselves and the driving public. Road-maintenance crews, tow truck operators, first responders, municipal workers, traffic control persons, construction crews, and other roadside workers all depend on drivers to respect the Cone Zone to keep their workplaces safe.
“The government takes it very seriously because there’s a lot of deaths over the course of time – there are several deaths a year just in construction zones from people speeding or reckless driving,” the manager of the road working company said.
Safety conditions have improved somewhat over the years with now two flaggers being required, one at each end of the work, to direct traffic through the zone where employees are working, Beal said.
“The Cone Zone campaign is a joint provincial initiative supported by the Work Zone Safety Alliance of organizations committed to improving the safety of roadside workers. Until the number of fatalities and injuries is zero, we will continue to take action to protect roadside workers. We ask all drivers, and roadside employers and workers to do the same,” Yako said.
“Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their workers and contractors along BC’s roads and highways, including:
• Ensuring their workers understand the hazards related to working at the roadside.
• Providing their workers with training, equipment, supervision and resources to help keep them safe.
Roadside workers can work safely by:
• Knowing how to identify hazards and assess risks.
• Following safe work procedures, including work zone set-up and take-down.
• Wearing appropriate high-visibility clothing and other PPE.
• Reporting unsafe work conditions to their supervisor,” the media release stated.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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