As we enter the peak of the vacation season, Safety Marking Inc. shares the challenges of seasonal roadwork during the summer months of increased interstate travel. As the world is reopening, the airways, railways, and particularly the highways are ramping up as leisure travel is growing popular again. Travel always ticks up during the summer, this year is an unprecedented time across the United States. We’ve all been waiting more than a year to see family and friends after having been quarantined this past year. For example, in New York and the surrounding Tri-state area, traffic has returned to nearly pre-pandemic levels. In April 2021, 970,920 drivers traveled through NYC tolls in one day, a high not seen since before the pandemic, and roughly 96 percent of a day’s traffic during a normal year, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
In April of last year, just under 10 million vehicles passed through NYC tolls on city bridges and in tunnels, a nearly 65 percent drop from normal, according to the MTA. This month, preliminary data shows traffic volume on track to be within 10 percent of normal. However, traffic patterns look different, and a new normal is emerging, according to interviews with several traffic reporters. With many people still working from home or moving to hybrid work, morning rush hour starts later, becoming heavy around 9 a.m. The evening rush now begins at approximately 3 p.m. Train and subway ridership are still hovering at less than half their pre-pandemic levels, and with many commuters now driving cars, transit reporters say the city’s streets are mired in traffic all day.
Safety Marking Inc. is adjusting to this ‘new normal’ and, as always, puts health and safety at the forefront of all scheduling to ensure Work Zone Safety is paramount when planning for highway pavement marking assignments. Implementing a successful plan requires educating crews on safety from the very beginning. The Safety Marking Safety Program is presented to all employees at Safety Orientation Training on their very first day of work. Work Zone Safety is orchestrated by Traffic Control Managers and Supervisors. In SMC’s moving work zones, early warning vehicles, signs, and cones are used to direct traffic away from the active work zone. Along with signs and road markings, these devices guide traffic safely through the work zone. In larger, static work zones barriers may be used to keep drivers from entering closed roads or other areas where it is unsafe to drive.
Areas like southern New England are heavily trafficked in both directions during the summer, particularly coastal cities such as Newport, RI and Mystic, CT. Typically, most work is done at night to avoid peak traffic times and allow the crews to work with limited interruptions. All Traffic Control Supervisors and Traffic Safety Managers at Safety Marking Inc. are well trained and certified through ATSSA the American Traffic Safety Services Association, an international trade association located in Fredericksburg, VA. Since 1969, ATSSA has represented companies and individuals in the traffic control and roadway safety industry. Over 1,800 ATSSA members provide most roadway safety features, services and materials used on our nation’s roadways.
Douglas Dolinar, At-Large Director of ATSSA, shares: “First and foremost, worker safety starts with the employee. Each worker bears the ultimate responsibility to work safely and protect themselves. The worker must first and foremost be aware of their surroundings 100% of the time. The worker should be sure that they are protected by their work truck or some other form of positive protection. Quite often it is not practical or possible to hide behind a truck and still do the work, however, just as we all learned to look both ways before crossing the street, when workers are out in the open and vulnerable, they need to be looking at traffic often enough to allow them time to react. At no time should they allow themselves to become complacent and place their lives in the hands of distracted, drunk, or disabled drivers. I know this is expecting a lot from the worker, but their lives are literally at risk. Secondly, it is the responsibility of the employer to provide everything possible to protect their employee. Along with high visibility clothing, crash attenuator trucks or other safety devices, the employer should not expect nor allow the employee to work in an unsafe environment where their life would be at risk. The employer should also empower employees to stop work if they find themselves in an untenable, life-threatening work environment. Even with all the advancements in signing and warnings to motorists for work areas ahead, the risks to highway workers have become so much more exacerbated with the scourge of distracted drivers. That is not to say that there is no hope for the industry, as there is a lot of ongoing research and development work underway to help achieve the goal of Zero Deaths on our nation’s highways. The future is bright for our industry, and it is up to all of us, workers, employers and DOT’s to make that future safe.”
As a company that stays true to its vision to be the safest and most professional pavement marking company in the industry, Safety Marking Inc. ensures their employees’ safety is a number one priority. In 2020, they established Safety Marking Academy, an internal Learning and Development site to train employees on the safe and effective use of equipment, procedures, and compliance. The Academy supports the company’s mission: to ensure the safest work environment using a technically advanced fleet. “I am totally committed to training our people in every way. We recently hired Daniel King to Manage our Learning and Development efforts,” said Mark Kelly, President of Safety Marking Inc.