By Stephanie Christiansen-LaRocco and Craig B. Simonsen

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published for the first time a Directive on Inspection and Citation Guidance for Roadway and Highway Construction Work Zones (October 16, 2012, CPL 02-01-054). The Directive covers any construction activity on and near roadways or highways, such as “road, highway, sidewalk, or utility construction, where public and/or construction vehicular traffic exposes construction workers to struck-by hazards.”

The new Directive is intended to assist Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) in safely inspecting roadway and highway construction work zones, and to issue consistent citations for found violations. The Directive is intended to provide guidance for CSHO inspectors on proper citation under 29 CFR 1926, Subpart G, Signs, Signals, and Barricades, which incorporates by reference Part VI of the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). It also provides general enforcement guidance on issuing citations for § 5(a)(1), General Duty Clause violations.

Taken together with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BOL) recently released preliminary findings of its 2011 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, this Directive illustrates an increased enforcement emphasis by OSHA to inspect and monitor roadway and highway construction activities. Accordingly, industries in this sector can expect greater attention from OSHA inspectors, and their state equivalents. It will be imperative that employers have up-to-date company safety policies and be vigilant in employee safety training to both keep the workforce safe, and to fend off any OSHA enforcement proceedings.