They often do their jobs alone in remote areas, where cell phone service is spotty, safe access to work sites is a challenge, and passing vehicles can come dangerously close.
To address those concerns, staff held the first Roadway Data Safety Summit in July. Employees from across the state gathered to develop the Roadway Data Safey Standards for Field Work.
Margaret Pridmore, the program manager for the Roadway Data group, said employees face unique working conditions.
“They’re by themselves,” she said. “They don’t have traffic control. They don’t have flaggers. We’re not like construction. We don’t work at a set location where a site can be managed.”
Instead, those gathering traffic data work at different locations throughout the state, in various weather conditions.
“The crew go out in the winter and visually count cars,” Pridmore said. “They often get stuck in the mud. It’s a local who comes out and helps them.”
Those and other conditions are prompting Roadway Data staff to make safety more of a priority. Ideas being considered so far include standardizing the equipment carried in vehicles, designating a staff member as a safety liaison that other employees can report concerns to, and adding new communication equipment to allos workers to send a text if they’re in an emergency and there’s no cell service. The group also is considering a monthly summary of safety-related issues that are happening in the field.
Pridmore said the Roadway Data group also wants to document the knowledge more experienced staff have to ensure it’s not lost when those workers retire or move to other positions.
“What happens when we lose that institutional knowledge?” Pridmore asked. “How do we bring somebody new in and teach them how to be safe?”
“Randy Danner had us go through each individual hazard we face, and what we can do to control those hazards,” Pridmore said. “We spent an entire day documenting them. We’re going to have safety documents that are foundational to creating processes.”
Pridmore said she is encouraged by the informal safety conversations workers are already having with each other.
“The guys have been talking a lot more,” she said. “I don’t ever want safety to not be a topic. I want to make sure this is something that’s kept front and center.”