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Improving worker safety through better visibility
A recent Work Safe Australia report shows that in the period of 2008-2009, 444 people lost their lives as a result of work related injuries with 286 dying of injuries sustained in the course of work activities. Of these 286 workplace fatalities 100 people died in road related trauma. Better visibility of personnel working along roadsides has gained a greater focus over recent years with the use of fluorescent garments and reflective materials now mandatory. However the visibility of roadside objects and vehicles which can also contribute not only to the injury of workers’ but also to other road users’ has not gained the same focus. Road work zones typically show higher accident rates than non-work sections due to the change in the road environment which is unfamiliar, lacks delineation and carries distractions that may occur owing to construction activities. Part one of this paper highlights the dangers of vehicles working on the road or parked along roadways, including emergency services and other working vehicle types. Part two focuses on accident studies and best practice handbooks (Arrows, Europe) helping traffic professionals, authorities, designers and contractors to create safer, cost-effective road work designs and operations. Part three looks at specific risks associated with truck driving, representing one fifth of all workplace deaths. It will provide details on benefits of introducing new safety standards in several countries to enhance the visibility of heavy vehicles and trailers. High-visibility reflective markings can significantly improve personal visibility and worker safety, but are also a relatively low-cost and practical solution to improve the visibility of vehicles and objects in any roadside workplace.