Could you please provide us with a brief biography?
My name is Mark Semonisck and I am a 20-year certified safety professional with over 41 years of experience. Having gone to school at Central Missouri State University, I have had a varied work history spanning across many industries. The last three years (including present day), I have worked as the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Deputy Risk Manager, Loss Control Consultant. Seventeen years prior to my current role were spent with a large insurance broker loss control consultant specializing primarily in the construction field.
Why should the regular driver be concerned with struck by injuries and fatalities?
The travelling public should primarily concerned with struck by injuries and fatalities in roadway construction. Consider the fact that people who work on these projects are family members of every American, whether brothers, sisters, husbands, wives or their kids. The work those assigned to do these projects are essential and critical to the movement and safety of the traveling public as well. Ensure that you can keep them safe so they can keep all of us safe!
Why are awareness weeks such as National Work Zone Awareness Week so important?
Construction work is inherently dangerous. These ever-present hazards are addressed in the workplace through policies, planning, training, monitoring and controlling. Vehicles are a major unknown variable for construction workers due to weather, congestion, distraction fatigue, poor skills, speed and impaired driving. These ‘missiles,’ otherwise known as vehicles, can defy physics and gravity if they are out of control. Even concrete barriers may not be enough.
How can we work to decrease struck by injuries and fatalities in work zones?
Safety is a partnership between the work zone and drivers. Work zones will provide hazard barriers, messaging and do their best to control the workplace. Drivers can respect the work zone, watch for and follow the messaging while maintaining vigilance and safe vehicle operations.
What changes can be made to prevent these incidents?
The biggest opportunity for improvement would be for drivers to alter their attitudes and behaviors for safe driving not just in work zones but whenever they choose to get behind the wheel. Slow down, back off and pay attention.
What steps is CDOT taking to decrease these incidents?
CDOT is using a number of avenues to decrease risk posed to workers, all under the official banner of Whole System Whole Safety. There are a number of internal departments and many efforts being coordinated, but CDOT’s goal is to better orchestrate and maximize effectiveness. Work planning, management and execution helps keep everyone safe, with technology also playing a key role.
One major project is the state-of-the-art Smart Work Zone technology focused on controlling speed, moving trucks in and out of work areas into live lane traffic and utilizing work zone-specific Traffic Operations Centers. Public information, education and communication also plays a key role in minimizing inconvenience to drivers, subsequently helping improve behavior.
Finally, larger projects have dedicated motorist assistance Courtesy Patrols which are constantly monitoring work zones and helping with minor and major incidents. This plays a crucial role in maintaining and sometimes starting to get the traffic moving, which helps reduce exposure to end of the queue incidents, where people fail to stop at the back of stalled traffic.
To learn more about how you can avoid struck by incidents, download our white paper on preventing distracted driving.