John R. Kasich, Ohio Governor
For Immediate Release: July 15, 2015
BWC Administrator visits Allen County ODOT garage
as agencies team up to keep Ohio’s workers safe
COLUMBUS – Every day, thousands of men and women—private and public employees alike—perform their jobs on or near Ohio’s roads. Their safety, as well as the safety of everyone who drives the roads, is a top priority for the state of Ohio. That’s why the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) are joining together this summer for a series of special events that call attention to what it takes to make sure Ohio workers get home safely, every day.
"Our top priority is always safety," said ODOT District 1 Deputy Director Kirk Slusher. "Like BWC, we are concerned about workplace injuries and accidents. These aren't just statistics, but someone's family member – a father or mother, daughter or son."
On Tuesday, BWC Administrator Steve Buehrer visited , BWC Administrator Steve Buehrer visited ODOT’s Allen County garage, a new highway maintenance facility in Lima which was completed prior to last winter. The employees at the garage are among the safest in the ODOT district’s eight-county region having worked nearly two years without a lost-time injury.
“I applaud District 1 and its employees for understanding that making safety a priority is one of the most important steps they can take to remain healthy and productive," said Buehrer. "Two years without an injury is a wonderful accomplishment, especially considering many of these employees are working out on the roadways, where the risk of injury can be very high. Workplace injury claims in Ohio are down by half over the last 10 years in part because of attentive employers and workers just like them across the state.”
“Our Allen County crew works in some of the most dangerous conditions within our district. Their responsibility includes maintaining Interstate 75 -- a task which has been made more difficult with construction that will continue on our section of the interstate through next year,” said Slusher. “The fact that they’ve worked nearly two years without injury given those conditions is a credit to them and to the management staff,” he said.
Slusher said the state’s Move Over law, which was expanded in 2013 to include construction, maintenance and utility crews, is one of the most effective and widespread efforts in recent years to improve safety for both workers along the highway and the public. The law requires vehicles to move over or slow down when approaching any vehicle with flashing lights along a highway.
Locally, the district continuously seeks better, safer ways to work. The roadway services department is employing portable traffic signals which serve in place of a flagger to control traffic through a work zone. Portable rumble strips which alert drivers to an upcoming work zone are also being trialed, and defensive driver training will be given this August to all employees within the district.
“We spend extensive time and effort on safety. That effort is necessary to keep us safe as well as everyone we impact on the highways in the course of our work,” said Slusher.
In 2014, more than 5,100 crashes occurred in ODOT work zones—the equivalent of one every two hours. More than 1,000 people were injured and 17 lost their lives
Across the U.S., roadside accidents kill one tow truck driver every six days, 23 highway workers and one law enforcement officer every month and five firefighters every year. In Ohio, thousands of workers build, maintain, serve and protect on our roadways every day—all in the interest of the public.
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