In my full-time job with the safety department of the Iowa Rural Electric Cooperatives, I spend a great deal of time worrying about my workers being involved in a work site traffic incident. I think we all can recognize how hazardous it is to work in or near a roadway. Drivers are extremely distracted.
One thing that has helped our people is to recognize what cones and signs will and will not do. Cones are not barricades. They will not stop a vehicle from continuing in the set path unless the driver is able to recognize and do what the cones and signs are telling them. This is really a game changer for the person setting up the zone. As you place signs and cones, remember, they are to provide the information that enables the driver to avoid your incident. Often the scene can become overwhelming to the drivers. Too many lights, vehicles parked on the wrong side of the road, the distraction of vehicle carnage, etc. Be certain to establish a warning far enough out to prepare them to pay attention. This is best done with the Accident Ahead sign. As they approach the scene provide enough cones to make it clear where they should drive. Get vehicles that are not needed out of the area. If a barricade is needed for protection, use the fire truck. This may work for a car, but it will not for a larger truck. It may protect your team but will result in an additional incident that may tax your resources. It is always best to avoid any potential accident.
Many departments carry far too few cones to set up an effective zone. Cones are much cheaper than people. They stack and store very efficiently. I know we don’t like to see things on the bumper of our trucks but please consider adding more. Cones are replaceable, people aren’t. Take some time to review your departments policies on traffic incident management.
Upon completion, the department should be able to….
• Identify the need for traffic management.
• Identify the resources you have for traffic management.
• Demonstrate the ability to set up several scenes for safe traffic management.
Scott Meinecke is a member of the Sheldon Volunteer Fire Department, Director of Safety for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, and field staff for the Fire Service Training Bureau. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com