The construction industry is asking the province to meet with it to discuss stepping up measures to protect workers, and the public, from injury and death in roadside work zones.
“Everyone’s workplace should be safe, but too often this is not the case for construction workers who are getting the job done very close to passing traffic,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said. Lorenc is the Chair of the SAFE Roads Committee, a volunteer group composed of industry, agency and government representatives.
The MHCA, Winnipeg Construction Association, Merit Contractors. Manitoba Trucking Association and Heavy Equipment and Aggregate Truckers Association have set out their concerns, along with potential initiatives – including greater enforcement – in a joint letter sent November 30 to three ministers whose portfolios are related to the issues.
“We need strong action and enforcement to drive home the lessons.
We respectfully request your government to consider a number of initiatives be considered to support safety in the above settings. Those include:
- Increased enforcement:
- Stronger sanctions against those who break the laws designed to protect people in and around roadside construction zones including consideration of sharp increases in fines for repeat offences
- Increase presence and enforcement by RCMP and police
- Expansion of photo radar enforcement
- More robust public awareness, through MPI and WCB campaigns
- Increased use of mobile speed-feedback signs
- Strengthened emphasis on construction zone safety in curriculum for driver education training.”
The letter to Ministers Ron Schuler, Cliff Cullen and Scott Fielding notes SAFE Roads has for some 15 years worked through public campaigns to increase awareness, and reduce risk from, hazards in construction zones near passing traffic.
Sadly, the injuries and deaths have continued. This year, for example, one motorist in rural Manitoba this past summer killed two people, including a 7-year-old, and gravely injured a number of others, all of whom were occupants of vehicles appropriately stopped at a highway construction zone.
As well, other incidents included:
- A construction zone flagger was struck by, and carried off on the hood of, a vehicle
- A vehicle struck the chute of a concrete truck; the chute hit a worker
- A vehicle ran over a construction zone flagger’s foot.