Thursday, April 19, 2018

Another near miss for employees in our work zone

By Celeste Dimichina

Maintenance technicians Eustacio Valencia and Clay Scoggins were spending their Sunday workday, April 15, removing graffiti from several signs along northbound I-5 in Vancouver. This is no easy task, as it requires our crews to be working near traffic and sometimes they have to get into some difficult places to reach.

Unfortunately, their job was made even more difficult and dangerous on that day.
Clay Scoggins (left) and Eustacio Valencia were doing a graffiti cleanup job on I-5 in Vancouver when a semi entered their work zone and collided with a work truck. Fortunately neither were injured.

After setting up two message boards warning of the work happening up ahead, Eustacio and Clay closed the two right lanes of the highway to set up a work zone. We also had a TMA (truck mounted attenuator) in place to protect the crew, but while Eustacio was in the vehicle, a semi entered the work zone and sideswiped the truck, knocking off the side mirror. The semi did not stop.

Fortunately, neither of our workers were injured. The State Patrol is still trying to identify the semi.
One of our workers was in this truck during a graffiti cleanup job when a semi truck entered
the work zone and sideswiped it, knocking off a side mirror.

Whether it's cleaning graffiti, repairing potholes or helping stranded drivers, our road crews put themselves on the line every day to try to keep our highways safe. It is dangerous work, and they can all recount near misses. And those are the lucky ones. Many others are injured on the job, and since 1950, we've had 60 workers killed while working.

It's also easy to forget that all of those workers have family and friends who want them to get home safely. We often simply see signs, trucks, vests and hard hats but fail to remember that those are real people doing work in often high-stress situations.
Graffiti cleanup can sometimes put our crews in challenging spots and situations.

But everyone can help keep them safe. Always focus near work zones. Slow down, move over and give them space. No one likes being stuck in traffic because of roadwork, but stay calm and work together to keep everyone safe. And, be kind. The workers are trying to do important work to benefit everyone. Help them help you.

We're glad that Eustacio and Clay weren't hurt, but we hate hearing about any of these close calls. So let's all do our part to send all of our road workers home safely.