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Work Zone Safety

Site vehicles can be just as dangerous to workers as road traffic, especially in light of their lack of extensive safety equipment and the inherent danger of construction sites. Line of sight, backing, and heavy loads can cause difficulty for operators. Although it takes a little longer to properly set up a job, an increase in productivity is realized when the project flows smoothly, access for materials and equipment is maintained, and the workers and motorists feel safe. The Department utilizes the State's Temporary Traffic Control Device Selection Chart for typical two-lane roadway applications.

Construction Inconveniences

Although the Department of Public Works & Transportation carefully stages construction activities to minimize disruption to people and businesses, then nature of our work is such that some delays and disruptions will occur. We appreciate the patience and cooperation of everyone who is temporarily inconvenienced by our maintenance and infrastructure improvement projects. Some traffic and parking restrictions may also be necessary to allow construction to proceed as efficiently as possible. The contractor on the job site can oftentimes answer your questions. In addition, a DPW&T Foreman and/or Inspector is assigned to supervise the project, and he or she can answer any question you might have. If you don't happen to readily find someone on the job site, please call us at (301) 475-4200 and we will help answer your question.

MOSH Requirements

Maryland Occupational Safety & Health Standards for workers in the construction industry must be adhered to. Recognition of potential hazards and their elimination is essential to the prevention of job related injuries. Formal education, training, and inspections are routinely offered and performed.

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices

The minimum standards contained in this document govern the type, size, installation and placement of various traffic controls for street, roadway construction, maintenance activities, utility work and emergency operations. These standards are strictly followed to help ensure the safe and expeditious movement of traffic through work zones and are designed for the safety of the motorists and working crews. Typical traffic control devices include signs, signals, delineators, barricades, lighting devices, pavement markings and hand signaling / flagging devices. The use of radios and pilot vehicles may also be required.

Traffic Control

A traffic control plan should be prepared in accordance with the complexity of the work to smoothly route traffic through or around these areas. Use of devices varies according to traffic speed, volume and job location. For pavement overlay and other major construction projects a Traffic Control Plan Certification must be submitted by the contractor and approved by the Department prior to the commencement of any work on the project. In order to help slow traffic in work zones a portable "Speed CHECK" device will be requested in a future budget. The device has a built-in radar and displays a motorist's speed – drivers immediately slow to the posted construction zone speed limit and has proved to be an effective traffic calming tool. Contractors are also encouraged to provide same for the protection of their workers. Public service announcements and press releases are also utilized to inform the citizens of changing conditions.

Safety and Health Program

On May 7, 1995 the St. Mary's County Program was updated by formal Resolution to ensure that employees are provided with the safest possible working conditions, that they perform their duties in a safe manner and that a safe environment for the public is maintained. Public Works field personnel hold monthly Safety Meetings and the employees are provided with the necessary safety uniforms and equipment. On July 1, 1998 mandatory safety shoes were supplied by the Department from its operating budget(s).


County Construction and Inspection personnel have completed the State Highway Administration's Temporary Traffic Control Safety Course and the Federal Highway Administration Certificate of Training for Work Zone Safety Inspection. The Highway Maintenance Division maintains State Highway Administration Approved Flagger certifications with must be renewed every thirty-six (36) months.

Emergency Response

The Emergency Management Agency (EMA) should be contacted at (301) 475- 4582 (Director) or (301) 475-8016 (Dispatcher) to discuss their response to any injuries or accidents that may occur on the site and the effect the work will have on their ability to respond to other emergencies. The crews need to be aware of special local needs (schools, hospitals, etc.) that may require job shut down in the event of an emergency. Cellular phones have been issued to road highway foremen and inspectors for improved communications.

Work Zone Safety Tips

  • The following is a listing of some safety tips that everyone should think about when driving through a work zone(s):
  • When you see ORANGE warning signs along the roadway, think safety and be alert. Orange signs, cones, and barrels alert you to work zones.
  • Driving through work construction or maintenance work zones requires caution, concentration and a little common sense.
  • Proceed with extreme caution, and keep an eye out for the unexpected. Give full attention to the driving task. A roadway work zone is not the time to pick up and dial your cell phone , change a CD, look at a map or read the newspaper.
  • Drive at the posted speed, which often has been decreased through the work zone. The penalty for speeding violations in a work zone is a fine, usually equal to twice the amount that would normally be assessed.
  • Watch out for workers in these areas. Watch for flaggers at work zones and follow their instructions.
  • Do not change lanes or pass in work zones. Leave plenty of room between our car and the one in front of you. Unexpected stops frequently occur in work zones.
  • Slow down, pay attention and stay calm. Work zones are not intended to disrupt your schedule. The are there to improve the road and help everyone stay on schedule.
  • Obey signs, channelizing devices and pavement markings as soon as you can - they give direction through the work zone. When vehicles move to the appropriate lane(s) quickly, traffic flow and posted speeds are usually maintained, and everyone's stress level is kept in check.
  • Be watchful for construction vehicles moving in and out of work zones.