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How to Properly Cone Off Your Work Area


How to Properly Cone Off Your Work Area (2)

Work zone and traffic control safety is one of OSHA’s safety standards for aerial lifts. Setting up a proper area wide protection zone with warnings, signs, visual signals, and cones can help prevent accidents and hazards associated with aerial lifts and workers, including struck-by accidents, falls from the lift, and ejections from the lift. When preparing to work near a busy traffic area, it’s important to consider the safety of workers and how to set up an AWP zone to prevent cars from getting too close. 


The Basics of Area Wide Protection

When preparing for work on the side of a road or highway, there are some basic principles that must be in place and understood by all workers, according to OSHA.


First and foremost, driver and worker safety should be the top priority when creating a traffic control zone. The tools and materials used for traffic control, like cones and barriers, should be designed and set up in a way to keep driving conditions as close to normal as possible for road users.


Road users should be guided through the traffic control zone in a clear and positive manner, and should have all necessary signs and instructions to keep them and workers safe.


Routine day and nighttime checks of the AWP traffic control zone should be performed to ensure its efficacy and safety, in addition to maintenance of the zone to maintain traffic control safety.


One of the most important parts of setting up a traffic control area properly and achieving area wide protection of road users and workers is to ensure that all persons who are involved with the TTC have received training appropriate to the tasks they are required to perform. When it comes to large equipment operators, training is even more important, because unsafe practices can put workers at risk and cause the aerial lift or scissor lift to come into contact with the traffic control zone and road users.


Creating Area Wide Protection with Cones

Achieving traffic control safety involving workers and aerial lifts will require the dividing of the temporary traffic control area to provide advanced warning to vehicles and allow the safe flow of traffic away from and around the work area.


▪     The Advance Warning Zone

The advance warning zone is the part of the road or highway where vehicles are first made aware of the upcoming work zone. On busy, city streets, the advance warning area should run 4-8 times the mph speed limit. In less busy, rural streets, the length range is 8-12 times the mph speed limit.


▪     The Transition Zone

The transition zone is the section of the street or highway where motorists are directed out of the normal pathway using cones placed in a line to create a temporary barrier. When a lane is closed on a multi-lane road for something other than mobile use, a merging taper is used in the transition zone to move drivers to an adjacent lane of traffic.


▪     The Activity Zone

This is where the actual work takes place and is designated with cones to direct vehicles away from workers and machines. It involves the work zone, the traffic area, and the buffer space.


▪     The Termination Zone

The termination area is the end of the work zone where drivers are redirected to their natural driving path. It is usually ended with an “End Road Work” sign.


How to Position Cone Tapers for Area Wide Protection

Tapers are the sections of the AWP zone in which cars are not supposed to pass through, and are usually created using cones.


Decide the length of the taper using the following guidelines:


W = width of the offset in feet


S = posted speed limit


Street with 40 mph or less = W2=/60 taper length


Street with 45 mph or more = WS taper length


Determine the length of the taper according to the following:


▪     Merging taper (before the transition zone)—at least the length of the taper in feet

▪     Shifting taper (when a side-ways shift is required)—at least half of the taper length in feet

▪     Shoulder taper (where 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 in length, and less than 100 feet

▪     Downstream taper—at least 50 feet, and less than 100 feet


Aerial Lift Training for Traffic Control Safety

Before workers can understand how to create a traffic control zone and achieve area wide protection for workers and drivers, they need to complete an aerial lift training program and receive their certification. According to OSHA, aerial lift training is one of the most effective ways for workers and employers to reduce accidents and prevent injuries, fatalities, and equipment damage. It can also protect pedestrians on the road and on foot, since operators will know how to recognize and avoid hazards, and protect them from the work areas.


Where to Get OSHA-Compliant Aerial Lift Certification Training

If you’re looking for the best aerial lift training program that is also easy, fast, and convenient, look no further than, the number one online provider of aerial lift certification.


Our program can be accessed from any device with the internet, 24/7/365. Once employers register their company on our website, employees can create their own account and work through the training modules. It only takes trainees on average one hour to complete their training and pass all quizzes and the final test. When workers have completed our program and passed their skills evaluation, they can print their operator card and begin work immediately. They’ll have the skills they need to create an AWP safety zone and achieve proper traffic control safety.


Invest in aerial lift training for your employees from to teach them how to operate aerial lifts, how to assess the surrounding environment, how to set up an AWP zone and achieve traffic control safety to avoid accidents.

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