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Safety Tips for Sweeping Professionals

Safety Needs to Stay at the Forefront

Since this last April 7th through 13th was Work Zone Awareness Week, it's a great time to post a reminder about the many safety hazards encountered in the power sweeping industry.

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross; posted in April, 2014.

Work Zone Awareness Let's start with an astonishing – and sobering – statistic compiled by the Association of General Contractors: A whopping 45% of highway contractors had vehicles crash into their construction work zones during the past year.

The work zone safety study was based on a nationwide survey of highway construction firms conducted by the association in March this year. More than 400 contractors completed the survey nationwide.

Association officials said that 67 percent of contractors nationwide feel that tougher laws, fines and legal penalties for moving violations in work zones would reduce injuries and fatalities. In addition, 74 percent of contractors said that an increased use of concrete barriers will help reduce injuries and fatalities. And 66 percent of contractors nationwide agree that more frequent safety training for workers could help.

Many firms and the association have crafted their own versions of these types of highway safety programs. As an example within the power sweeping industry, the World Sweeping Association now offers its WSA Membership safety information on a monthly basis. The work safety materials are provided by noted safety expert, John Meola, who has been a frequent contributor to the safety section of, as well.

Not only are accidents on the rise, but according to statistics cited by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, as reported by For Construction Pros, the latest data show a 3% increase in work zone fatalities.

"As the construction season starts, we need to be mindful of workers and anyone else traveling through work zones by slowing down, paying attention, and driving safely," said Secretary Foxx. "Speeding in work zones is against the law and puts those who work there – as well as those who drive there – in danger."

If your organization does more than just sweeping, you will probably find good ideas at the US Department of Labor's 'Worker Safety Series.' For a view into how jobsite safety issues are handled in the United Kingdom, I suggest a review of the 'Short guide to improving health and safety on construction sites through effective worker involvement' presented by the U.K.'s Strategic Forum for Construction.

Having a strong safety program in place, as well as emphasizing the importance of safety-related equipment on all of your vehicles and on your traffic area jobsite, can definitely contribute to a better safety record. This translates into fewer worker injuries as well as lower insurance and workmens' comp. premiums. In addition, you will have a happier workforce. However, there may be some additional aspects you haven't considered.

From time-to-time I have been called on to be an expert witness with regard to sweeping-related legal cases. To date, these have all been as the result of a serious injury accident of some type involving a street sweeper.

When an accident does happen, the opposing legal team will be going through your company's safety training, as well as employee training, with a fine-toothed comb. Safety equipment and training methods will be scrutinized in great detail, and the very continuation of your contracting company may ride on the results. Even cities are not immune from disastrous repercussions when a safety program was not in place and the worst happens.

If you do not have a suitable safety program completed for your business, use this article as the impetus to do so. There are a number of websites that provide boiler-plate safety manuals that may be readily adapted to your particular organization. To find these, I suggest you type "contractor safety manual" into your favorite search engine.

Sure, you can always wait until later. However, that may be one day too late...

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