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Worker views on safety at roadworks

Debnath, A, Blackman, R, Haworth, N (Peer reviewed)

Work Related Road Safety

ARSC conference 2015

Roadworks in live traffic environments are hazardous to workers and road users alike. Most of the existing research on roadwork safety rightly takes a quantitative approach to assessing the risks and related issues at roadworks and to addressing the identified risks appropriately. In Australia, however, limited official data constrains the ability of researchers to achieve an in-depth understanding of the situation at state/territory and national levels based on traditional quantitative analyses. One way to enhance and supplement the limited available data is to consult those who are directly involved in roadworks for qualitative information, although such an approach is rarely reported in the work zone safety arena. As part of the major study focusing on safety at roadworks in Queensland, 66 workers were interviewed about their perceptions and experiences regarding work zone safety. This paper thus outlines a qualitative examination of workers' perceptions of the causes of common roadwork incidents and the effectiveness of hazard mitigation measures. Consistent with findings reported in the literature is the view among workers that speeding is a major hazard and that police presence and enforcement is the most effective countermeasure. Other hazards commonly observed by workers but less frequently reported elsewhere include driver distraction and aggression toward workers, working in poor weather and working at night. Workers mostly suggested educational measures to address distraction and aggression issues, though such measures are only tentatively supported in the literature.