Nearly 30 presenters covered topics such as federal actions to prevent COVID-19 spread; using smart work zone technology to enhance safety; challenges of connected and automated vehicles in work zones; and new online courses focused on the transportation construction industry during the Virtual National Work Zone Management Conference, March 16-18.

The biennial conference, which attracted more than 400 registrants, is sponsored by ARTBA and supported by the Federal Highway Administration. All of the sessions and presentations are available, free of charge, through the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.

Some highlights:

Technology in Work Zones

Professors and researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Missouri described the results obtained by placing monitors in thousands of cars and then gathering “naturalistic” driving data to better understand behavior of drivers as they approach and pass through work zones. This information helps officials understand which work zone crash countermeasures are likely to be more effective.

Two sessions described multiple research efforts underway to understand and address the challenges that work zones present to connected and automated vehicle operations. Other presenters provided examples and tools available to properly use “smart work zone technology” to improve motorist and worker safety.

Key sessions:

  • Work Zone Safety Countermeasures
  • Smart Work Zone Projects
  • Tools and Preparing Transportation Agencies for Connected and Automated Vehicles in Work Zones

COVID-19

ARTBA’s safety team and officials with the Virginia and Pennsylvania DOTs detailed how the industry has pivoted to provide essential training to both the public and private work force during the COVID-19 pandemic, including practices that will continue to benefit educational outreach after the emergency subsites.

Attorney Brad Hammock of the Littler law firm of Vienna, Virginia, shared the latest information related to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) actions that will impact employers nationwide. A new National Emphasis Program will focus OSHA enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at risk of contracting coronavirus. He also shared insights on what an anticipated emergency temporary standard (ETS) might include, which the agency is expected to issue soon.

Key sessions:

  • Field Training Needs – Where are the gaps?
  • COVID-19 and Workplace Safety

Online Learning

ARTBA’s Beth Stinson provided a guided tour of the association’s new online learning system, expected to debut in several weeks. It includes more than a dozen training courses focused on transportation construction safety issues. It will host many courses that have been supported by the FHWA Work Zone Safety program and are provided free to the industry and include professional development hours for those who successfully complete each course. Once live, the website will be artba.ispringmarket.com.

Coming April 26-30: National Work Zone Awareness Week kicks off with National Stand Down to Prevent Struck-by Injuries.

Photo collage: Top left, ARTBA Chairman Steve McGough; top right, AASHTO Executive Director Jim Tymon; bottom right, Brad Hammock, Littler; bottom left, Luke Neurauter and Travis Terry, VTTI, Paul Pisano, Paul Pisano, LLC.