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How to Properly Cone Off Your Work Area

Work zone and aerial work platform (AWP) traffic control is an important part of safety on the job. Each year, more than 40,000 people are injured in work zones. Every eight hours there’s a work zone fatality. Knowing how to create a safe work zone helps prevent accidents and injuries, including fatal ones.

Setting up an OSHA-compliant safety zone includes using warnings, signs, visual signals, and coned off areas. All are needed to enhance safety. This blog will discuss the use of traffic cones to help with work zone and AWP traffic safety.

OSHA Traffic Control Guidelines

When it comes to AWP traffic control, OSHA has clear guidelines:

– AWP driver and worker safety should always be the top priority.

– Cones and other traffic control tools should be set up to keep driving conditions close to normal.

– Road users should be guided through the traffic control zone in a clear and positive manner.

– The work zone should have signs and instructions to keep workers and road users safe.

Managers should also conduct day and nighttime checks of the traffic control zone. This is done for two reasons. One is to make sure the traffic zone remains correctly marked. The other is to maintain AWP traffic control safety at all times.

Anyone working in a coned off area needs to be trained in the tasks they perform. This is especially true with large equipment operators. Mistakes due to lack of training can put workers and road users at risk of injury or death.

Area-Wide Protection

OSHA traffic control guidelines have two main goals. The first is to create a safety zone that protects workers. The other is to allow for the safe flow of traffic away from and around the work area. This requires dividing the work area into different zones. Each one has a different purpose.

Advance warning zone.

This is the part of the road or highway where drivers first become aware of the upcoming work zone. On busy city streets, the advance warning area should run four to eight times the speed limit. On uncrowded rural streets, the length range is eight to twelve times the speed limit. In either case, the idea is to let drivers know they will soon come upon a work area.

Transition zone.

The transition zone is the first section where drivers have to take a different path due to the work area ahead. This is done by using cones to create a temporary barrier. On roads with more than one lane going in the same direction, the cones are used to create a merging taper. This gradually forces drivers to move into the lane that remains open. It also causes them to reduce speed in order to merge safely.

Activity zone.

This is where the work takes place, which can be in the road or to the side. It involves the work zone, the traffic area, and a buffer space. In most cases, cones are used to direct vehicles away from workers and machines. Many work zones will also have a flagman to slow down or stop drivers. They can be at one or both ends. Their purpose is to protect both workers and drivers and to assist with the flow of traffic.

Termination zone.

This starts at the point where cars are safely past the activity zone. At this point, drivers are directed back to the normal driving path. This can be done with cones, flagmen or both. The zone usually has an “End Road Work” sign to let drivers know they are past the work area.

How to Position Cone Tapers

Tapers are the sections of the AWP traffic safety zone in which cars are not supposed to pass through. In most cases, this is a coned off area. The tapers need to be long enough to give workers a safe space in which to work. To decide the length of the taper, measure the width (W) of the offset in feet. Then note the posted speed limit (S).

On streets with 40 mph or less, the taper length should be Wx2 divided by 60. On streets with a 45 mph or higher speed limit, the correct taper length is W x S.

Other taper lengths include:

– Merging taper (before the transition zone). At least the length of the taper in feet.

– Shifting taper (requires a sideways shift). At least half the taper length in feet.

– Shoulder taper (the shoulder is included in the activity zone on a high-speed road). At least one-third of the taper length in feet.

– One-lane, two-way traffic (before the activity area). At least 50 feet and less than 100.

– Downstream taper. At least 50 feet and less than 100 feet.

A merging taper is used when a lane is closed on a multi-lane road for a transition area. It requires the longest distance because drivers need to be alerted to the upcoming move into one lane of traffic. A shifting taper is used with lateral shifts that do not involve merging.

One-lane and two-lane tapers are used before an activity area that occurs on a two-way road. A downstream taper alerts drivers to the fact that their regular traffic lane is open again.

OSHA Traffic Control Guidelines

According to OSHA, “the..control of all road users through a temporary traffic control (TTC) zone shall be an essential part of highway construction, utility work, maintenance operations, and the management of traffic incidents.” When OSHA traffic control measures are taken, all workers and road users are safer.

The basics of an OSHA traffic control zone are:

– The goal is to safely route road users through such zones using roadway geometrics, roadside features, and TTC devices.

– A TTC plan is needed to ensure all safety measures are put in place and all responsible parties are held accountable.

– All pedestrians should be guided in a clear and positive manner while approaching and navigating the traffic control area.

– Traffic control tools, such as cones, should be inspected daily and maintained as needed.

– All workers involved with the work project and traffic control zone must be trained to do their jobs correctly and ensure everyone’s safety.

Training for AWP Traffic Safety

Aerial lift training and certification is one of the best ways to reduce accidents on AWP work sites. It also helps protect non-workers and drivers on the road. When workers know how to avoid AWP hazards, it makes everyone safer.

When you need fast, affordable aerial lift training, turn to

Our program can be accessed anytime, anywhere, with any device. All you need is an Internet connection. The training is OSHA traffic control compliant. And it only takes about an hour to complete the training.

If you’re an employer, simply register your company on our website. Then your workers can create their own accounts and work through the training modules. They can also print their certification card as soon as they complete the course. Most important, they’ll have the skills to create an AWP traffic safety zone.

Invest in aerial lift training for your workers with They’ll learn how to:

– Identify worksite hazards

-Safely operate aerial lifts

– Set up an AWP traffic control coned off area

– Achieve traffic safety to avoid accidents

Call 888.699.4800 to learn more about our online training courses today.

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