Prioritizing roadside worker safety
By Adam FreillConstruction Health & Safety
Alberta government strengthens road safety rules by adding requirement to slow down when passing roadside workers.
In a move to increase safety for all roadside workers in Alberta, starting September 1, drivers in the lane closest to any roadside worker vehicle stopped at the side of the road with its lights flashing will have to slow down to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit, whichever is lower. Drivers must also move over to the far lane if it’s safe to do so and take reasonable steps to allow other drivers to move over as well.
Up until now, Alberta had been one of only two provinces without move over legislation, but Alberta’s government has changed that. Currently, only tow truck drivers and first responders are protected under the Traffic Safety Act, but with the change, now all roadside workers stopped on the side of the road with flashing lights activated will be covered by these protections.
“This is a common-sense rule change. If you see any flashing lights and people working on the side of the road, slow down to 60 km/h or move over to make an open lane beside them,” stated Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors. “We want to protect our police, paramedics, maintenance workers and tow truck drivers so they can get home safely at the end of the day. These people proudly serve Alberta, and we want to make sure we look out for them.”
The new roadside worker safety rules will apply to all roadside workers, including first responders, tow truck operators, highway maintenance workers and snowplow operators.
“Worker safety is the top priority of our highway maintenance contractor member companies. While we provide training to employees so they can work safely around traffic, we rely on drivers to do their part to slow and make space for workers and machinery,” said Ronald Glen, CEO of the Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association. “ARHCA thanks all members of the legislature who supported Bill 5 for their concern for our employees’ lives.”
Slowing down and moving over for all roadside workers will keep everyone safe and ensure traffic continues to flow efficiently. To help enforce these changes, fines and demerits will be applied for unsafe behaviours when passing roadside workers and snowplows.
“These new measures will undoubtedly protect our highway maintenance and snowplow crews. Slowing down when passing roadside workers will be a minor impact on drivers that has a tremendous effect on the safety of our workforce,” Fred Desjarlais, president and CEO of Volker Stevin Canada. “No matter the season, our crews strive to get the travelling public home safely, and these changes ensure our crews will get home safely too.”
According to Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), there were 2,229 injuries involving workers being struck by a vehicle between 2014 and 2018.
Failure to comply with the rules can result in drivers receiving a fine and three demerit points.