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Highway Work Zone Safety

Highway Work Zone Safety

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is a work zone?

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.

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?

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

Example programs and assessmment 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. In addition, the struck by/caught between presentation may be adapted for your workplace.

In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). 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. 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 that may be applicable to highway work zone safety in North Carolina:

29 CFR 1926.95 - criteria for personal protective equipment

29 CFR 1926.96 - occupational foot protection

29 CFR 1926.100 - head protection

29 CFR 1926.101 - hearing protection

29 CFR 1926.102 - eye and face protection

29 CFR 1926.103 (29 CFR 1910.134) - respiratory protection

29 CFR 1926.104 - safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards

29 CFR 1926.105 - safety nets

29 CFR 1926.1153 - respirable crystalline silica

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.

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

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 or by calling 919-707-7876.