Keeping a construction area safe for workers and the general public is a high priority.
In addition to the normal safety considerations of any construction work, the specialized activities involved in traffic signal construction require special attention to the unique work tasks of each construction trade. Knowledge of site-specific safety hazards and implementation of safe work procedures is vital to the protection of workers and the general public.
Traffic Signal Construction
Major elements of traffic signal construction include the placement of traffic signal poles and mast arms, pole foundations, traffic signal controller and cabinet, vehicle detection, traffic and pedestrian signal heads, conduits and wiring, power supply, emergency vehicle detection, and street lighting. Locations for the equipment to be placed are defined on the construction plans for the traffic signal installation and are field verified. Work by certain specialized trades, such as electrical and traffic control, must be performed by personnel with specialized training who hold certification or licensure.
While all construction companies implement standard operating procedures for field safety, an on-site safety meeting will advise all workers, including subcontractors, of any site-specific conditions, requirements or hazards. A job safety analysis, prepared by the contractor in advance of starting construction, is an important tool for systematically identifying site-specific safety issues, required permits and emergency procedures.
Topics for an on-site safety meeting can include a review of high hazard operations, safety clothing and equipment requirements, locations for the safe storage of stockpiled traffic signal equipment, coordination of traffic signal construction work with utility companies and other construction activities, and emergency contacts and procedures.
The location of underground utilities must be clearly marked by the utility company or a utility locating service prior to initiating any excavation work to avoid injury to workers or damage to the utility line. Underground utility lines typically encountered in traffic signal work during the excavation of traffic signal pole foundations or trenching for conduits include facilities for sanitary and storm sewer, telephone, electric power, natural gas, and water lines. Overhead obstacles such as power lines and tree branches also must be identified prior to initiating construction activities that involve setting traffic signal poles and mast arms.
Lane Closures and Flagging
Certain work tasks, including the placement of traffic signal equipment (poles, traffic signal controller cabinets, in-pavement traffic detection loops, etc.) in or near traffic lanes, or overhead traffic signal work over traffic lanes and pedestrian areas, may require the temporary closure of traffic lanes and sidewalks to protect the construction workers as well as pedestrians and motorists traveling near the work area. Standardized methods for roadway and sidewalk closures are defined in the federal “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.” State and local agencies often have additional standards and policies for implementing short-term work zone traffic control.
Consideration of environmental conditions is part of safety planning for all outdoor construction projects. Safety planning must consider environmental elements including weather/temperature and biological hazards (insects, poisonous plants, wild and domestic animals, etc.). Depending on the specific site hazards, workers are required to use proper personal protective equipment including safety shoes and clothing, reflective outerwear, gloves, headgear, eye protection, etc.