Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Law at Highway Incidents

Safety Vests Now Required at Roadside Incidents

The article below from the Daily American, written by Tiffany Wright indicates that a good, Horse Sense rule will become effective on November 24th that will require ANYONE at the scene of a roadside incident MUST wear highly visible, reflective vests. I highly applaud this new rule for the safety of Construction Workers, Fire and Safety personnel and News Media's protection.

Law will require workers to wear safety vests


In a few weeks, people working along federal highways will have to gear up in reflective safety vests when responding to an incident on public roads.

The new federal regulation, required by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, will go into effect Nov. 24.

The regulation states, “All workers within the right-of-way of a federal-aid highway who are exposed either to traffic or construction equipment within the work area shall wear high-visibility safety apparel.”

This goes for construction workers, firefighters responding to an accident or media covering an incident.

Melissa Melewsky, the media law counsel for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, said the association supports the regulation.

“We agree that this is necessary,” she said. “Ultimately this is for the safety of roadside workers. If media are on the roadside they have the same risks, so it’s only proper to have the same precautions.”

The regulation is important to workers’ safety, as 43,000 fatalities occur on highways each year, said Doug Hecox, a spokesman with the Federal Highway Administration.

“All of these people are working on roads but none are protected by safety gear,” he said. “Sometimes reporters think nothing can happen because they’re only going to be out there one minute, but sometimes that’s all it takes.”

Kris Wyant, Berlin Area Ambulance Association captian, said even though his emergency responders already wear reflective gear it is good others will have to as well.

“I think it’s a good idea because it’s added safety for people out there working on the highway,” he said.

The employees in Berlin will also have to purchase new vests to update their current ones that are no longer in compliance with the regulation.

“Most of our stuff is no longer in compliance with the new regulations,” he said.

Although not complying with the law is not a crime, those not willing to comply may face repercussions.

“As far as newspapers go I can see access becoming an issue if reporters didn’t wear the proper equipment,” Melewsky said.

Financial funding could also be affected.

“Theoretically the state could lose billions of dollars in federal aid,” Hecox said.

Most of the public roads in Pennsylvania are maintained using federal funding, so the state would have to abide by the rule in order to secure funding.

The International Safety Equipment Association maintains a list of manufacturers that produce reflective apparel that is compliant with federal regulations. Visit www.safetyequipment.org to find a manufacturer.

(Tiffany Wright may be contacted at tiffanyw@dailyamerican.com. Comment on the online story at dailyamerican.com.)

1 comment:

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