The #1 OSHA Aerial Lift Certification and Training Site! Get Started Now.

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. This includes struck-by accidents, falls from the lift, and ejections from the lift. When preparing to work near a busy coned off area with traffic, 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 and a coned off area. 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 coned off area and traffic control zone 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 a Coned Off Area

Achieving traffic control safety involving workers and aerial lifts will require the dividing of the temporary traffic control zone and creating a coned off 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 typically is a coned off area 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 a coned off area.

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

Different types of cones are used for a coned off area.

A merging taper (coned off section) is used when a lane is closed on a multi-lane road for a transition area. A merging taper with cones requires the longest distance because drivers need to be adequately alerted and prepared for the transition into one lane of traffic.

A shifting taper is used when merging is not required, but a lateral shift is needed.

A one-lane and two-lane taper using cones is used before an activity area that occupies part of a two-way roadway that is being occupied by vehicles driving in both directions.

A downstream taper is useful in termination areas to provide a visual notice to drivers that their regular traffic lane is open again.

Why is a Coned Off Area Important for Workers?

More than 40,000 people are injured every year from crashes in work zones, and every 8 hours there’s a work zone fatality. Understanding the proper techniques for creating a safe temporary work zone will help to prevent accidents that cause injuries and deaths and keep both workers and citizens safe.

According to OSHA, within their fundamental principles of temporary traffic control, “the..control of all road users (motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians..) through a TTC (temporary traffic control) zone shall be an essential part of highway construction, utility work, maintenance operations, and the management of traffic incidents.”

When traffic control measures are taken, such as a coned off area in a work zone, all workers and pedestrians are safer. The fundamentals of a traffic control area with cones are put in place to protect workers from traveling vehicles and pedestrians from large equipment.

The fundamentals of a coned off area traffic control zone are:

  • The goal of the traffic control zone is to route road users through such zones using roadway geometrics, roadside features, and TTC devices as safely and efficiently as possible
  • A temporary traffic control plan is needed to ensure all safety measures are put in place and all responsible parties are held accountable
  • All types of 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 during the work period and maintained as needed
  • All workers who are involved with the work project and the traffic control zone must have the proper training to do their jobs correctly and ensure everyone’s safety

Aerial Lift Training for Traffic Control Safety

Before workers can understand how to create a coned off area 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 coned off area and achieve traffic control safety to avoid accidents.

Refund Policy