By ARTBA Chairman Matt Cummings & ARTBA Foundation Chairman Paul Yarossi

This column is appearing in the May/June issue of Transportation Builder.

“You’ve been hearing a lot about safety on the highways.  You should hear a great deal more.  This is one subject which cannot be over emphasized… It is a grave national situation and one in which we all have a part.  It is not an overstatement to say that your life may depend on it.”

Doesn’t this sound like a statement you might have heard recently from an ARTBA volunteer or senior staff?  Think again.

It’s from a 1945 column in “Road Builder’s News” by then American Road Builders Association (ARBA) Engineer-Director Charles M. Upham.  He explains further the association “for more than 20 years has stressed the need for greater safety on our highways and has worked to bring it about.”

Upham’s column makes clear at least three things.  First, ARTBA’s leadership and commitment to improving roadway safety for motorists and workers has been a key part of the mission since the association’s 1902 founding.  Second, as an advocacy organization, the quest for “better and safer roads” truly never ends.  Third, all the association’s safety initiatives wouldn’t happen without the intellectual and financial contributions, and personal involvement of its volunteer leaders.

Road safety topics and products were part of the program in 1909 when the American Road Makers (ARM) launched the “Road Show”—the forerunner to today’s CONEXPO-CONN/AGG.  ARBA was key participant in the 1940s-era “President’s Highway Safety Conferences,” hosted by former association member Harry S. Truman.

In the 1960s, the association supported establishment of the U.S. Department of Transportation and its oversight on safety matters.  In 1979, industry leaders launched ARTBA’s Traffic Safety Industry Division to provide a home for manufacturers of roadway safety hardware, including barricades and barriers, signage, pavement markings, crash cushions, and other temporary traffic control devices.  Creation of the Transportation Safety Advisory Council, and Safety & Insurance Committees soon followed.

In 1985, ARTBA hosted the first National Conference on Highway Work Zone Safety in partnership with FHWA and the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO).  This led to a second conference in 1994, and out of its proceedings, emerged the idea of a National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse (www.workzonesafety.org) to serve as a centralized information resource aimed at improving motorist and worker safety in these sites.

The ARTBA Foundation won the FHWA contract to create such a facility in 1997.  More than 20 years later, the Clearinghouse has become the world’s largest online resource on road construction safety, with helpful materials available in seven languages.  Along the way, under contracts from FHWA and OSHA, the ARTBA Foundation has also provided safety training for more than 100,000 industry professionals.

The latest example of innovative leadership is found in the 2016 launch of the ARTBA Foundation’s Safety Certification for Transportation Project Professionals™ (SCTPP) program, which you will learn more about in the pages of this issue’s annual “Safety Source.”

This certification exam tests knowledge of industry-established core competencies necessary to recognize and mitigate potential hazards to those in and around transportation project sites.  Most notably, in early May, the SCTPP program earned the “gold standard” of professional credentialing with international accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  It’s a milestone achievement that we believe will help propel the program to the next level.

Everyone in our industry owes a huge debt of gratitude to three driving forces—David Walls (Austin Industries), Ross Myers (Allan Myers) and David Zachry (Zachry Corporation) —for providing the leadership “muscle” to get the certification launched.  We also salute the safety experts and C-suite executives from the following organizations who shaped the program’s scope and created the exam questions:

  • Arch Insurance Group
  • Ash Grove
  • Astec Industries
  • Barriere Construction
  • Cargo Transporters
  • CRH Americas
  • Granite Construction
  • HNTB
  • Kiewit Infrastructure Group
  • Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America
  • Laborers’ Training & Education Fund
  • Lane Construction
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • National Asphalt Pavement Association
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health
  • Plastic Safety Systems
  • Superior Construction
  • Texas Department of Transportation
  • The Center for Construction Research & Training
  • The Vecellio Group
  • Virginia Tech
  • Wagman Heavy Civil
  • WSP USA

We strongly encourage you to engage your firm’s key employees in the certification program.  Bolstering the number of “safety certified eyes and ears” on transportation project sites is the industry’s collective responsibility.  As Charles Upham reminds us, “this is one subject which cannot be over emphasized.”

Matt Cummings is executive vice president at AECOM. Paul Yarossi is executive vice president at HNTB Holdings.