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Mid-America Transportation Center

Work Zone Safety: Physical and Behavioral Barriers in Accident Prevention

Final Report
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Missouri University of Science & Technology


  • Principal Investigator: Suzanna Long ( 573-341-7621)
  • Project Status
  • Start Date: 06/01/2012
  • End Date: 12/30/2013
  • About this Project
    Brief Project Description & Background
    This research identifies creates a methodology to improve the overall safety of both work zone personnel and travelling public by enhancing existing physical safety barriers, increasing mental awareness of safe behavior on and around work zone, and instilling positive safety culture among work zone personnel and travelling public. The project identifies factors that improve work zone safety for both work zone personnel and general public.
    Research Objective
    This research identifies and maps increased incidents of fatalities to changes in work zone personnel and driver behavior, as well as work zone design. A survey is administered to key stakeholder groups (work zone personnel, the general public and law enforcement personnel) to evaluate and compare the safety culture among high risk work zones, identify unsafe behaviors, and develop methodologies for mitigating risk. In situ observations of work zones with high critical incidents are used to evaluate actual field behavior against standard operating procedures. Human systems integration methodologies will be used in conjunction with change management and process improvement protocols to develop strategies for minimizing risk and eliminate unsafe behaviors for effective asset management procedures.
    Potential Benefits
    The outcomes and deliverables from this project will benefit MoDOT and residents of Missouri an increase in safety in work zones for both work zone personnel and the travelling public, the reduction of vehicle accidents around work zone, and a reduction of worker compensation claims and lost/restricted work days due to work zone related accidents.
    Despite an overall decrease in fatalities on Missouri roads, work zones have not seen a corresponding decrease in fatalities and serious accidents (MoDOT Research Forum, 2011, 2012). This research conducts a risk and hazard analysis that includes a safety culture assessment in order to develop asset management processes to minimize risk by flaggers and other work zone personnel. An improved asset management process will save MoDOT and other agencies money by reducing the number and severity of claims from work zone personnel. A safety culture assessment investigates stakeholder values, attitude and behavior towards safety in the work place and links these attitudes to issues in the work zone. The research design for the study will use a mixed methods approach as part of the safety culture assessment (Creswell, 2003; Tashakkori and Teddlie, 2003). For quantitative analysis, the research design uses a formative analysis i.e. perception based quantitative data. The qualitative analysis used an in vivo analysis (e.g., Morse and Richards, 2002) of stakeholder responses to reflective questions regarding work zone safety. Stakeholders are defined for the research as work zone personnel, the general public (GP), and law enforcement agency (LE) representatives. Separate surveys are developed for each group. The risk and hazard analysis identifies and examines the appropriateness and sufficiency of physical safety barriers to prevent accident, whereas the safety culture assessment identifies the cognitive factors that contribute to work zone personnel behaviors that contribute to accidents. Training protocols will be developed in conjunction with LTAP and disseminated to state DOTs and local agencies to facilitate more proactive work zone safety measures.
    Total Project Cost
    $ 37,407