Injuries and deaths on road crews

A lot of people say that the first sign of spring is not the robin -- it's road construction.

A lot of road crews kick into high gear as soon as the bad weather starts to lift. Unfortunately, drivers are often unprepared for the sudden interruptions in their routes. The workers on the road crews may also be a little unprepared to face the hazards of their profession after a winter break. Both of those factors can lead to serious, even fatal, accidents.

If your loved one is injured or killed while working on a road crew, you should be asking the following questions:

Did he or she have the appropriate time to acclimate to the job?

Supervisors and foremen shouldn't throw new employees or employees who are returning after a winter layoff directly out into the heat when there's a warm snap without protection. It can be 30 degrees hotter on asphalt than it is in the surrounding air. Workers need to be given extra breaks and kept hydrated until their bodies acclimate to the sudden shift in temperature. Otherwise, they can suffer heatstroke.

Were safety protocols being observed?

Every site should have safety protocols in place, including the division of work zones and an emergency response plan. If the lack of organization contributed to a worker's injury or death, the company could be liable. In addition, if the lack of an emergency plan caused a delay in critical care for an injured worker, that's also a form of negligence.

Special protocols should be in place during certain high-risk activities. Were cones, barrels and signs up to direct traffic away from the workers? If a trench was being dug, were specific measures in place to prevent a cave-in? Ask what safety protocols were in place and what else could have (and should have) been done to make the work safer.

Was safety equipment being used?

Did the injured or deceased employee have on the right safety gear? New employees are sometimes put on road crews without the adequate safety gear, like hard hats and reflective vests. Experienced employees may get lax about using them. It's up to the company to enforce the policy on safety equipment.

If you believe a serious injury or death while working a road crew could have been prevented, it's wise to consider all your legal options right away.

Source: constructcconnect.com, "10 Road Construction Work Zone Safety Tips," Kendall Jones, accessed April 26, 2018

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