National Academies Press: OpenBook

Very Short Duration Work Zone Safety for Maintenance and Other Activities (2019)

Chapter: Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Suggestions for Future Research

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Page 45
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Suggestions for Future Research." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Very Short Duration Work Zone Safety for Maintenance and Other Activities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25512.
Page 45

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45 Conclusions The objective of NCHRP 20-05 Topic 49-04 was to synthesize the current state of practice on the selection and setup of VSDWZs where the traffic control setup may take longer than the actual work activities. The researchers sought to identify current practices in each state. Key findings from the survey are as follows: • Most agencies have not attempted to provide specific guidance for VSDWZs, preferring to allow flexibility for their crews to decide how best to accomplish the work and minimize worker and traffic safety risks. • Those agencies that have provided more specific guidance on this topic typically emphasize the importance of considering the many factors that contribute to proper TTC selection, considering the use of spotters, or making exceptions to the lane closure policy when condi- tions warrant safely doing so. • Some agencies have developed good practical guidelines for performing quick maintenance operations. A typical example is that a lane closure with channelizing devices is not always necessary if traffic volumes and speeds are such that the worker can walk from the shoulder to the location of the work, complete the work activity, and walk back to the shoulder without impacting traffic. • Several technologies have been developed or adapted to automate certain tasks without requiring workers to leave their vehicles. Examples are debris vacuums, scoops, rakes, and plows; pothole spray-patchers; and UAVs for inspections. • Some agencies have experienced crashes or near-miss events while performing VSD activities, which resulted in serious work injuries and fatalities. As a result, policies and practices may have been changed. However, VSDWZs are rarely mentioned in worker training programs. This synthesis can serve as a guide for agencies interested in developing their own policies, guidance, TAs, or decision-making tools for VSDWZs. Suggestions for Future Research Given the widely different approaches in use, the researchers recommend that future VSDWZ studies focus on establishing a more systematic method of selecting the appropriate TTC for VSD work activities that can be used by all agencies. This may include an in-depth examination of the existing approaches (including the original reasons for taking a particular approach), development of VSDWZ TAs, and establishment of thresholds for when each TA is appropriate. C H A P T E R 5 Conclusions and Suggestions for Future Research

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TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 533 identifies the current state of practice among state departments of transportation (DOTs) regarding selection and setup of very short duration work zone (VSDWZ).

The report presents case examples of four state DOTs along with an in-depth analysis of the VSDWZ policies of these states. The case example agencies have developed specific guidance on the topic for their jurisdictions.

VSDWZ activities are those activities not defined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) under short duration work zone or temporary traffic control (TTC) zones. These activities are usually 1 to 20 minutes long and include maintenance activities (e.g., performing temporary patching, picking up debris, or placing traffic count tubes) where TTC is not set up.

VSDWZ activities reduce the exposure of workers to risk and the inconvenience to traffic that standard TTC zones would create. Current policies and practices in place at various agencies for VSDWZ activities vary substantially. The work-zone setup also varies by the type of maintenance or other very short duration activity and roadway classification (e.g., speed, AADT, and number of lanes). Historically, during those activities, a large number of worker fatalities have occurred.

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