Construction and field services work can be dangerous due to the potential for trips, falls, equipment accidents and other hazards. Yet there are other dangers beyond these workers’ control, especially when they work in public places like roadways. In the US, one work zone fatality occurs for every 4 billion vehicle-miles of travel and for every $112 million worth of roadway construction expenditure, according to the US Department of Transportation. And those fatalities are increasing. Between 2020 and 2021, work zone fatalities increased by 10.8% while overall roadway fatalities increased by 10.3%. With worker safety in jeopardy every time they try to complete a job, it’s essential to educate both them and the public about these dangers. 

National Work Zone Awareness Week 

National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), held this year on April 15-19, is an annual spring campaign that coincides with the start of the construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. It takes place across the United States, with partnerships between state departments of transportation, national road safety organizations, government agencies, private companies and individuals. NWZAW’s goal is to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety and mobility issues in work zones. The key message is for drivers to use extra caution in work zones. 

The History of NWZAW 

NWZAW officially got going in 1999, but the idea began in 1997 when a group of Virginia Department of Transportation staff members wanted to dedicate a week to raise awareness about work zone safety among all district employees before construction projects picked up during the warmer months. The idea caught on, with the California Department of Transportation launching a statewide public awareness campaign soon after. In December 1999, the American Traffic Safety Services Association approached the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials to launch the first official NWZAW in spring of 2000. 

The goals for NWZAW are to: 

  • Initiate efforts to raise awareness of the need for more caution when driving through work zones to decrease fatalities and injuries. 
  • Establish and promote a uniform set of safety tips. 
  • Promote the value of training and the importance of best practices in work zone safety among private sector, industry and roadway workers. 
  • Reach out to both roadway workers and contractors to communicate possible effects of motorists’ behavior in response to traffic delays and advise on what steps might possibly be taken to lessen negative behavior. 
  • Ensure outreach efforts are made to work with entities involved with work zone safety and to form partnerships. 

Each year since 2000, NWZAW holds events to help achieve these goals as well as providing resources to promote workplace safety.  

How You Can Take Part in NWZAW 

NWZAW highlights the deadly dangers of inattention at highway work areas. Organizers have developed a websitethat offers resources and an outline of events for the week to bring awareness to these dangers. The 2024 events include: 

  • Work Zone Safety Training Day – April 15. Work Zone Safety Training Day emphasizes the importance of laying the groundwork for safety through training of personnel. Companies are encouraged to pause during the workday for safety demonstrations, discussions about safety policies and other prevention steps. Training should cover hazard recognition and fall prevention, and talks about hazards, protective methods and the company’s safety policies, goals and expectations. 
  • National Kickoff Event – April 16. A kickoff event, hosted by the Maryland Department of Transportation, will be held at a site near where six roadway workers were killed in 2023. The noon event is by invitation only but is expected to be livestreamed. 
  • Go Orange Day – April 17. All roadway safety professionals across the country are encouraged to wear orange to show their support for work zone safety. You can also show your support on social media by posting orange photos and using the hashtags #NWZAW and #Orange4Safety. 
  • Social media storm – April 18. Participating companies are encouraged to share messages and use hashtags #NWZAW and #WorkZoneSafety on their social media platforms between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET.  
  • Moment of Silence – April 19. The moment of silence was started in 2022 to remember the men and women whose lives were lost in a work zone incident. 

Organizers are also hosting a free OSHA Region 2 Work Zone Safety Awareness webinar on April 17 from Noon to 1 p.m. ET. The webinar will focus on the prevention of the deadly dangers of workers struck-by incidents in and around highway/roadway construction zones.  

Participating in awareness weeks, like NWZAW, helps remind workers about the very real dangers of construction work and reinforces the safety measures that can keep them safe every day. 

Arcoro’s Learning Management System (LMS) can do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to training. The software allows your employees to complete training when it is convenient for them. The software allows users to pre-load and supplement their training library with online content like OSHA approved courses, as well as training materials from Arcoro’s partners like SkillSignal. 

Contact us to learn more. 


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