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/ Categories: ATSSA, Roadway, Work Zones

Roadway Worker Protection Council holds its first meeting

Ideas flowed today as ATSSA’s Roadway Worker Protection Council held its first meeting during the Midyear Meeting in Kansas City, Mo.

Nearly 30 people took part in the meeting where it was agreed the two primary focus areas are mitigating risk in work zones and creating a support plan to be ready when incidents occur.

Doug Dolinar, who lost an employee to a work zone incident last August, was appointed as council chair  and ATSS Foundation Board Chair Dave Krahulec was appointed as vice chair for today’s meeting. An election of officers will take place when the council meets during the 52nd Annual Convention & Traffic Expo in Tampa, Fla., in February.

ATSSA Vice President of Education and Technical Services Donna Clark said the plan is to hold the Roadway Worker Protection Council meeting the morning of Monday, Feb. 14 to avoid conflicts with other council and committee meetings at Convention. The Convention & Traffic Expo will be held Feb. 11-15.

Dolinar opened today’s meeting by reviewing the council’s purpose statement and chief activities.

Participants discussed whether there was strong enough emphasis on providing support when a tragedy occurs but the wording was maintained for now, with the idea that individuals could weigh in with suggestions on any adjustments prior to the next meeting.

Dolinar noted that roadway workers are different from others whose jobs involve risk to life—like police and construction workers--but said the difference was that others had effective protection in place like bulletproof vests and tethers to protect in case of falls. Roadway workers, by contrast, stand alongside traffic moving 70 mph and have only a flimsy vest.

“I think it’s time for a paradigm shift,” he said.

Participants agreed the idea is to have a resource ATSSA members can turn to if it’s needed. That resource, possibly a template, could help them through a crisis.

They also agreed that anyone who has already been through a tragedy is an asset to others.

In addition to resources such as grief counseling and ways to know if employees need help, one person mentioned tips on dealing with the media.

Two members of ATSSA’s Government Relations Team provided information on efforts to get legislative support.

Director of Federal Government Relations Cameron Greene said ATSSA had received support for a Roadway Worker Protection Working Group. The idea was supported by a Democrat and Republican in the House of Representatives and was introduced as an amendment to the INVEST in America Act and was included in the final version that passed the full House. It’s unclear if it will proceed further.

Director of State Government Relations Renee Gibson spoke about proposed Pennsylvania legislation aimed at improving work zone safety. It was introduced in April and is still pending consideration.

The biggest portion of the council meeting revolved around ideas about how to prevent work zone incidents. More than two dozen ideas were offered such as education, establishing a safety culture through a corporate vision, creating a position that focused on safety and was devoted to looking for risks,  distracted worker awareness training, empowering employees to speak up if they see something that looks unsafe, avoiding work zone message signs when workers aren’t on the job, utilizing connected work zone tools and incorporating technology.

Dolinar asked the group about the possibility of a “vehicle arresting device” after seeing a vehicle use a road shoulder to avoid a truck attenuator that was protecting a work zone. He was thankful people weren’t on the shoulder or they would have been killed by the vehicle.

Anyone interested in serving on the Roadway Worker Protection Council can submit an application.

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