July 5th, 2011

SAFETY COMES FIRST

Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT workers do all they can to make construction zones safe for workers and road users.

Dottie Weese, left, and Cheryll Benner, UDOT Risk Management, view the Juniper Canyon Bridge under construction on the Mountain View Corridor project.

A big part of Dottie Weese’s job is to inspect construction projects to make sure the proper safety protocols are being followed, protective gear is being worn and appropriate equipment is being used. “I am not here to beat anybody up…I’m just here to make sure workers are safe.”

Weese, Safety Inspector for UDOT Region Two, visits projects monthly and sometimes makes surprise visits. She looks at tours the sites, talks to workers and submits reports about what she observes. Safety is UDOT’s top priority on any project. Weese and her UDOT counterparts in Region One, Three and Four, work side by side with safety professionals who work for UDOT contractors.

Her job can be challenging because of the dynamic nature of construction – work zones change fast, and to stay safe, workers need to be focused on safety at all times. The Mountain View Corridor is an example of a work zone that changes rapidly. While many transportation projects are improvements to existing roads, MVC is being built from the ground up, and workers are using heavy equipment to dig large trenches for utility work and move earth for the new road.

MVC workers on the project are on top of their safety game, according to Weese. “With so much going on, including a lot of really deep excavation, this team has done an awesome job,” she reports.

Chelly Heninger with Granite Construction Company is part of the MVC safety team. Her role is to promote safety among workers and the public, including partnering with UDOT’s Zero Fatalities program to give “Think Safety” presentations to school children near the construction zone, and an conducting upcoming safety week for workers in August.

While construction workers have the needed equipment and understand important safety practices in construction zones, non-workers need to stay out.  Lee Young, General Foreman for Structures on the MVC project reports that people are using the construction zones for recreation. He sees the evidence – like motorcycle, three wheeler and horse tracks – in the morning when he returns to work.

What should road users do to stay safe near construction zones?

First of all, stay out of the construction zone, pay attention while driving and observe all posted signs,  says UDOT Traffic and Safety Operations Engineer John Leonard. His job is to make sure construction project workers maintain traffic control devices in line with standard industry practice. Whether working in or driving through the zone, “we want everybody to go home safely at the end of the day.”

Check back tomorrow to see how UDOT makes construction zones safe for road users.

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Responses to “SAFETY COMES FIRST”

  1. Very good article…
    currently i’m a Project Manager with an Electrical Infrastructure firm in Australia and we’ve had the unique experience of a head contractor from Korea and a civil contractor from Ireland (long story as to why…)
    But none-the-less the biggest difference we have noticed between the work practices from Koreans and the Irish versus the Australians is that safety is not the highest priority on the list.
    We’ve had high voltage power cable strikes from trucks tipping under power lines that should’ve been tiger tailed, we’ve had trucks reverse into bobcats and earthmoving equipment and more.
    Probably the biggest thing i’ve learnt is that you need to make sure you educate different cultures far more strongly than your own on safety and traffic management controls – as they simply don’t understand it as you might think they would. And the other trick is to audit them extensively and set a stringent example of not allowing any, and i mean any relaxing of the safety rules – as it might just cost someone their life if you do.
    Cheers
    Mark

  2. It’s nice to see such proactive safety strategies. My husband works with the construction industry, particularly with highway and roadside construction. It’s a dangerous job -safety is of the utmost importance! Roadside construction has the challenging aspects of a dynamic job-site with public motor vehicle accidents added to the equation. Anything can go wrong.

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