Spring and summer roadwork brings an increased safety risk for roadside workers across Vancouver Island and around the province.
The annual provincewide B.C. Cone Zone campaign launches today, May 16, with a call for motorists and others to do their part to prevent injuries and deaths of roadside workers.
WorkSafe B.C. statistics show two roadside workers in the province, including one south of Nanaimo, were killed last year and 31 were injured after being hit by vehicles. Over the past decade, 12 roadside workers died and 221 missed time from work due to injury.
“That’s 233 people — mothers, fathers, friends, work colleagues, and neighbours,” said Trace Acres, Road Safety at Work program director and spokesperson for the cone zone campaign, in a press release. “Every roadside worker in the central Island deserves to make it home to their family at the end of their shift without injury.”
Roadside workers are more than road maintenance and construction crews – municipal workers, traffic control persons, landscapers and others work at or beside the roadside as part of their jobs.
“Dangerous behaviours like speeding and distracted driving puts them at risk,” Acres said. “And leave your phone alone. A distraction of even a few seconds can have life-changing consequences.”
When entering a road work area marked by cones, motorists should slow down, pay attention and follow instructions from traffic control persons, temporary road signs, and traffic control devices. Campaign organizers say it’s also a good idea to listen to media reports before and while driving and adjust routes to avoid work zones if possible.
If there are no speed limits posted in a roadside work zone, drivers should observe the regular posted speed limit. If there are vehicles with red, blue, or amber flashing lights stopped at the roadside, the province’s ‘slow down, move over’ law applies. Drivers must slow to 70 kilometres per hour if the posted speed limit is greater than 80km/h or slow to 40km/h if the posted speed is less than 80km/h, and move over to the left lane if it’s safe to do so.
Tickets to motorists can range from $196 for disobeying a flag person to $368 for using an electronic device while driving.
Employers are required by law to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for their roadside workers by providing job specific training, education, and supervision and ensuring workers understand roadside work hazards.
The cone zone campaign is a joint provincial initiative supported by the Work Zone Safety Alliance of organizations committed to improving the safety of roadside workers. ConeZoneBC.com offers employers and workers online tools and resources to help them work safely in roadside cone zones.