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Protecting Workers in the Construction Zone

May 26, 2020

One of the top priorities of any construction contractor at a project site is to ensure the safety of workers and the public. In the past several decades, work zones have reduced fatalities and injuries tremendously due to appropriate placement of traffic control devices such as signs and electronic traffic signals. Here are ways to use these devices to ensure maximum safety in a construction zone.

Give Drivers Plenty of Warning

A safe construction zone is one that is surrounded with bright orange or yellow signs that make it clear to drivers that they need to drive slowly and carefully. Standard MUTCD compliant road work signs are effective at raising this awareness if they are set up in the right places for maximum visibility. Drivers should know minutes before approaching a work zone to slow down. Here’s a sample of the many different messages that can be used to warn drivers in these work zones:

  • Road Work Ahead
  • Caution – Entering Construction Zone
  • Construction Ahead
  • Danger – Construction Zone – Unauthorized Personnel Keep Out
  • Slow Work Zone Ahead

Additional messages may be “proceed at your own risk” or specific fines for speeding. Drivers recognize orange as a color that represents danger, which is why it’s a good idea to use plenty of them without overdoing it. Too many signs of the same nature create the problem of drivers no longer taking them as seriously.

Use Flashing Lights

Flashing LED lights help get the attention of drivers and alert them to avoid danger. The lights can be set to different patterns such as blinking or alternating, using remote digital technology. TraffiCalm is a leading developer of traffic control systems that include sequential chevrons and traffic calming devices with flashing LEDs.

Since a great deal of road work is done at night, it only makes sense to invest in warning lights with bright retroreflective warning signs. A study by Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) suggests that drivers recognize various warning lights and what they mean in terms of color combinations. Most drivers recognize amber warning lights as indicating the presence of construction and maintenance vehicles. Researchers also found from the 150 Texas drivers monitored, that most focused on color combinations for meaning to identify specific types of vehicles, such as construction trucks vs. fire engines or ambulances.

Post Speed Limit Signs

The speed limit should also be posted in a construction zone and can be a separate sign. The most effective way to enforce the speed limit without traffic control officials on site is to use electronic driver feedback signs. TraffiCalm manufactures these systems and is helping spread them across the world. The LED messages on driver feedback signs warn the driver if they are exceeding the speed limit and need to slow down. These machines also give the public further information on road safety, time frame of construction, detours, and more.

The more information you give the driver the better, at least up to a point. Finding the right informational balance is the key to effective construction zone signs that promote worker and driver safety. It does take a series of signs for optimum effect, and the most attention-getting of these solutions is the electronic sign.


Every construction zone needs a certain amount of signage and other traffic control devices to ensure the safety of workers, drivers and pedestrians. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location for more information about construction zone safety.

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