Highway Work Zone Safety

Note: The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) also regulates work zone safety. Please reference Connect.NCDOT.gov and NCDOT Work Zone Safety Program for more information.

Work zone is defined by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 29 CFR 630.1004 as an area of a highway with construction, maintenance, or utility work activities. A work zone is typically marked by signs, channelizing devices, barriers, pavement markings, and/or work vehicles. It extends from the first warning sign or high-intensity rotating, flashing, oscillating, or strobe lights on a vehicle to the END ROAD WORK sign or the last temporary traffic control (TTC) device.

Highway Work Zone Safety

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What are the hazards associated with highway work zones?

Falls, struck by or caught between vehicles and equipment, and electrical hazards are the common hazards associated with work in highway work zones and can result in serious injury and death.

What can I do to protect myself?

Workers must always be sure to don high visibility vests or other high visibility clothing prior to entering a highway work zone. In addition, workers should be trained about the use and meaning of temporary traffic control devices used to warn motorists and others about the boundaries of a highway work zone.

What resources are available to assist employers?

A-Z Safety and Health Topics

Related resources can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for personal protective equipment, respiratory protection, fall protection, electrical safety, heat stress and silica

Safety and Health Programs

Example programs and assessment forms for respiratory protection, electrical safety, and PPE hazard assessment are available for customization to fit the conditions and atmospheric hazards to be encountered in the workplace. 

Training and Outreach Services

The struck by/caught between and work zone safety presentations may be adapted for your workplace. In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. 

Further, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

Consultation Services

Lastly, the consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.

Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to highway work zone safety in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. 


General Duty Clause

Additionally, N.C. General Statute 95-129(1), commonly referred to as the General Duty Clause, may be applied for recognized serious hazards not covered by a specific NCDOL standard.

Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.


Where can I learn more?

Compliance Documents

Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-707-7876.