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6D. PEDESTRIAN AND WORKER SAFETY
6D-1. PEDESTRIAN CONSIDERATIONS
There are three threshold considerations in planning for pedestrian
safety in temporary traffic control zones on highways and streets:
- Pedestrians should not be led into direct conflicts with work site
vehicles, equipment, or operations.
- Pedestrians should not be led into direct conflicts with mainline
traffic moving through or around the work site.
- Pedestrians should be provided with a safe, convenient travel path
that replicates as nearly as possible the most desirable characteristics
of sidewalks or footpaths.
In accommodating the needs of pedestrians at work sites, it should always
be remembered that the range of pedestrians that can be expected is very
wide, including the blind, the hearing impaired, and those with walking
handicaps. All pedestrians need protection from potential injury and a
smooth, clearly delineated travel path.
Therefore, every effort should be made to separate pedestrian movement
from both work site activity and adjacent traffic. Whenever possible,
signing should be used to direct pedestrians to safe street crossings in
advance of an encounter with a temporary traffic control zone. Signs should
be placed at intersections so that pedestrians, particularly in
high-traffic-volume urban and suburban areas, are not confronted with
mid-block work sites that will induce them to skirt the temporary traffic
control zone or make a mid-block crossing. It must be recognized that
pedestrians will only infrequently retrace their steps to make a safe
crossing. Consequently, ample advance notification of sidewalk closures is
critically important. Refer to figures TA-28 and TA-29, section 6H-3 for
typical traffic control device usage and techniques for pedestrian movement
through work areas.
When pedestrian movement through or around a work site is necessary, the
aim of the engineer should be to provide a separate, safe footpath without
abrupt changes in grade or terrain. Judicious use of special warning and
control devices may be helpful for certain difficult work area situations.
These include rumble strips, changeable message signs, hazard identification
beacons, flags, and warning lights. Flagger activated audible warning
devices may be used to alert pedestrians of the approach of erratic
vehicles. Also, whenever it is feasible, closing off the work site from
pedestrian intrusions is preferable to channelizing pedestrian traffic along
the site solely with temporary traffic control devices such as cones,
tubular markers, barricades, or drums. If the possibility of vehicle impact
is very low, chain link or other suitable fencing, placed well away from
traffic, is acceptable. Solid fencing with plywood, however, can create
sight distance restrictions at intersections and at work site access cuts.
Care must be taken not to create fenced areas that are vulnerable to
splintering or fragmentation by vehicle impacts. Similarly, temporary
traffic control devices used to delineate a temporary traffic control zone
pedestrian walkway must be lightweight and, when struck, present a minimum
threat to pedestrians, workers, and impacting vehicles. Only minimally
necessary ballasting with safe, lightweight materials should be used with
Movement by work vehicles and equipment across designated pedestrian
paths should be minimized and, when necessary, should be controlled by
flaggers or temporary traffic control. Cuts into work areas across
pedestrian walkways should be kept to a minimum, because they often create
unacceptable changes in grade and rough or muddy terrain. Pedestrians cannot
be expected to traverse these areas willingly. They will tend to avoid the
cuts by attempting non-intersection crossings.
At work sites of significant duration, especially in urban areas with
high pedestrian volumes, and where falling debris is a concern (such as work
on overhead structures), a canopied walkway is frequently needed to protect
pedestrians from falling debris. These covered walkways should be sturdily
constructed and adequately lit for nighttime use.
In places where pedestrians are judged especially vulnerable to impact by
errant vehicles, all foot traffic should be separated and protected by
longitudinal barrier systems. Where a barrier is clearly needed, it should
have sufficient strength and low deflection characteristics, to keep
vehicles from intruding into the pedestrian space. Further, short,
noncontinuous segments of longitudinal systems, such as concrete barriers,
must be avoided because they nullify the containment and redirective
capabilities of the design, increase the potential for serious injury to
both vehicle occupants and pedestrians, and encourage the presence of blunt,
leading ends. All upstream leading ends that are present shall be
appropriately flared or protected with properly installed and maintained
impact attenuators. With regard to concrete barriers in particular, it is
very important to ensure that adjacent segments are properly joined to
effect the overall strength required for the system to perform properly.
It has been determined through study and experience that vertical curbs
cannot prevent vehicle intrusions onto sidewalks. As a consequence, normal
vertical curbing is not a satisfactory substitute for positive barriers when
these are clearly needed. Similarly, contractor-constructed wooden railings,
chain-link fencing with horizontal pipe runs, and similar systems placed
directly adjacent to vehicle traffic are not acceptable substitutes for
crashworthy positive barriers; when struck, they are dangerous to vehicle
occupants, workers, and pedestrians. In many instances, temporary positive
barriers may be necessary to prevent pedestrians from unauthorized movements
into the active work area and to prevent conflicts with traffic by
eliminating the possibility of mid-block crossings.
If a high potential exists for vehicle incursions into the pedestrian
space, judgment must be exercised as to whether to reroute pedestrians or
use barriers. Normally, standard traffic control devices can satisfactorily
delineate a temporary traffic control zone pedestrian path, but fail-safe
channelization can never be guaranteed with these devices because of the
gaps between them. Tape, rope, or plastic chain strung between devices can
help discourage pedestrian movements off the designated pathway.
Good engineering judgment in each temporary traffic control zone
situation should readily determine the extent of pedestrian needs. The
engineer in charge of traffic control for temporary traffic control zones
should provide both a sense of security and safety for pedestrians walking
past work sites and consistent, unambiguous channelization to maintain foot
traffic along the desired travel paths.
6D-2. WORKER SAFETY
Of equal importance to the safety of the public traveling through the
temporary traffic control zone is the safety of the worker performing the
many varied tasks within the work site. work areas present temporary and
constantly changing conditions that are unexpected by the traveler. Further,
these work area conditions almost always present situations that are more
confusing for the driver. This creates an even higher degree of
vulnerability for the personnel on or near the roadway.
Following the Fundamental Principles noted above in Section 6B will
usually provide the degree of control and traffic operation that will bring
about safe conditions for the worker. of particular importance is
maintaining work areas with traffic flow inhibited as little as possible,
providing standard and clear traffic control devices that get the driver's
attention and provide positive direction.
Below are key elements of traffic control management that should be
considered in any procedure for assuring worker safety:
- Training-All workers should be trained in how to work next to traffic in a way that minimizes their vulnerability. In
addition, workers with specific traffic control responsibilities should
be trained in traffic control techniques, device usage, and placement.
- Worker Clothing-Workers exposed to traffic should be attired in
bright, highly visible clothing similar to that of flaggers.
- Barriers-Barriers should be placed along the work space depending on such factors as lateral clearance of workers from
adjacent traffic, speed of traffic, duration of operations, time of day,
and volume of traffic.
- Speed Reduction-In highly vulnerable situations, consideration should
be given to reducing the speed of traffic through regulatory speed
zoning, funneling, use of police, lane reduction, or flaggers.
- Use of Police-In highly vulnerable work situations, particularly those
of relatively short duration, stationing police units heightens the
awareness of passing traffic and will likely cause a reduction in travel
- Lighting-For nighttime work, lighting the work area and approaches may
allow the driver better comprehension of the requirements being imposed.
Care should be taken to ensure that the lighting does not cause
- Special Devices-judicious use of special warning and control devices
may be helpful for certain difficult work area situations. These include
rumble strips, changeable message signs, hazard identification beacons,
flags, and warning lights. Flagger activated audible warning devices may
be used to alert workers to the approach of erratic vehicles. misuse and
overuse of special devices/techniques can greatly lessen their effectiveness.
- Public Information-Improved driver performance may be realized through
a well-prepared and complete public relations effort that covers the
nature of the work, the time and duration of its execution, and its
anticipated effects upon traffic and possible alternate routes and modes
of travel. Such programs have been found to result in a significant drop
in traffic; that reduces the possible number of conflicts and may
allow a temporary lane closing for additional buffer area.
- Road Closure-If alternate routes are available to handle detoured
traffic, the road may be closed temporarily during times of greatest
worker hazard-which, in addition to offering maximum worker safety, may
facilitate quicker project completion and thus further reduce worker
Like other provisions of work area safety set forth in this part of the
MUTCD, the various traffic control techniques must be applied by qualified
persons after appropriate engineering studies and with sound engineering
judgment and common sense.