Line workers often work on the side of the road to maintain the nation's infrastructure, putting them at risk for injuries due to motor vehicle accidents. Case in point: in 2017, there were 20,834 crashes in Georgia work zones, resulting in 7,276 injuries and 55 fatalities.
With road, tree and utility work on the rise during the spring season, Georgia Power has collaborated with the Georgia Department of Transportation to improve worker zone awareness.
The theme of this year's national campaign for "National Work Zone Awareness Week," which ran from April 8-12, was "Drive Like You Work Here." During the week, Georgia Power and GDOT encouraged motorists to drive alert, especially in work zones. National Work Zone Awareness Week, which began in 1999, is designed to inform motorists about the dangers of driving through work zones and of the perils faced by construction and maintenance workers.
In July of 2016, utility vehicles were included in Georgia's "Move Over Law," which requires drivers to move over one lane when crews are working on the roadside, according to Georgia Power. The addition of utility workers to the law will help to ensure safety for linemen who may be working on the roadside at night or following severe weather to repair damaged equipment or restore power for customers. If drivers are unable to move over, they should slow down below the speed limit and be prepared to stop.
Here are some work zone safety tips that electric utilities can share with their customers and drivers to keep linemen safe while working roadside:
- Obey the Rules of Work Zone: (1) Pay attention (2) Slow down (3) Watch for workers
- Expect the Unexpected. Things may change quickly. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be closed, narrowed, or shifted, and people may be working on or near the road.
- Don't Speed. Obey the posted speed limit, even when workers are not present. In 2016, there were 190 work zone fatal crashes where speeding was a factor.
- Don't Tailgate. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you and the construction workers and their equipment.
- Obey Road Crew Flaggers and Pay Attention to Signs. Failure to obey speed limit signs or a flagger's traffic control directions can result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment.
- Stay Alert and Minimize Distractions. Give your full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using cell phones and other electronic devices while approaching and driving in a work zone. For example, in the state of Georgia, it is illegal for drivers to hold their phones while driving, as of July 2018. Those drivers caught using their phones while not parked face a $50 fine, which doubles on their second offense.
The safety of Georgia Power's employees and customers is a top priority every day. Georgia Power is an active member of the Georgia OSHA Struck-By Alliance, which provides member organizations with information, guidance and access to training resources to help protect the health and safety of workers. To mark National Work Zone Awareness Week, Georgia Power field staff received additional instruction on safety best practices and situational awareness to use throughout the year.