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Montana highway workers face risk of injury or death on the job

Montana drivers are very familiar with highway work zones, especially in the summer months when construction projects are in full swing. Being delayed by the lane reductions, traffic cones and slower speed limits in work zones can be frustrating. But for those who make their living working on road construction, work zone traffic control is critical to their safety.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, motor vehicle accidents are among the most common causes of fatal workplace accidents. To protect workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that cones, barrels and signs be used to safely route traffic through the work zone. Concrete barriers and crash cushions should be used to prevent vehicles from entering the work zone. Flaggers should be used to help in traffic control. Workers should wear high visibility reflective clothing at all times.

When a highway construction worker is injured on the job, he or she has the right to collect workers' compensation benefits, including payments for medical expenses and lost wages. Benefits are also available for permanent disability and vocational rehabilitation. When a worker is killed on the job, his or her next of kin have the right to collect workers' compensation death benefits.

Workers' compensation benefits are paid without regard to who was at fault in the accident. But when a construction site accident is the fault of someone other than the employer, such as a negligent motorist, the worker or surviving family members also have the right to pursue additional damages through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against that motorist.

Source: OSHA Fact Sheet, "Work Zone Traffic Safety," accessed Sept. 5, 2015

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