Keep Highway Workers Safe

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) --Last November a law stating that all workers within the right of way on a federal aid highway must wear reflective clothing.

You see them everywhere you drive whether on a state or county road. Statistics show that these workers are still being injured or killed every day.

According to these numbers, highway workers likelihood of injury is 8 times greater than other construction workers.

Bo James is the Road Foreman for the Craighead County Highway Department.

Safety is a huge issue for he and his workers. Whether it's building a bridge with a crane on a road with little traffic to paving a road with many workers walking around machinery.

"We put signs up, we make our workers wear vests and keep flaggers out there so drivers don't run up on our employees and get them hurt."

We as drivers pose the biggest threat to highway workers, those signs and cones and barrels are there for a reason...and when you are in the zone, hang up the phone.

One of the biggest complaints I heard that talking on cell phones and driving in a construction zone just don't mix.

Bo James, "The biggest danger is vehicles, you know people talking on cell phones and issues like that, not really paying attention and next thing you know they are right up on top of them."

Jerry Easley, "Talking on cell phones and stuff and not paying attention to workers that are on the highways."

One big leap in safety for workers has been mandatory high visibility safety apparel. Like brightly colored shirts or the safety vest.

Easley, "They stand out with the traffic and I think the safety vest is actually the best thing the highway department has got going for us."

But all the safety gear in the world is no good without the drivers paying attention when they are in areas where workers are present.

Bo James, "Watch for signs, watch for flaggers and the people in the orange and yellow vests. Pay attention to what you are doing on the road."

According to statistics there is an average of over 300 highway worker fatalities and around 40 thousand injuries across the nation each year.

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