A new construction standard for traffic control signs, signals and barricades is expected to reduce fatalities and injuries at roadway worksites, OSHA announced. The final rule becomes effective Dec. 11, 2002.

The rule requires compliance with either the 1993 or Millennium Edition version of Part VI of the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), in place of the 1971 MUTCD.

OSHA initially proposed to amend the standard through a direct final rule. The agency withdrew the direct final rule because two of the eight comments received, both seeking a one-year delay in the August 13, 2002, effective date, were treated as significant adverse comments.

Because most affected employers have been required to comply with the updated MUTCD since 1996, OSHA determined that a one-year extension in the effective date is not necessary. However, the agency has added 120 days to the original proposed effective to emphasize outreach and education efforts to assist the industry in training employees on the new rule.

Among the specific changes, the revised standard requires:

  • retro-reflective and illuminated devices at intermediate and long-term stationary temporary traffic control zones;
  • warning devices for mobile operations at speeds above 20 mph;
  • advance warning signs for certain closed paved shoulders;
  • a transition area containing a merging taper when one lane is closed on a multi-lane road;
  • temporary traffic control devices with traffic barriers that are immediately adjacent to an open lane; and,
  • temporary traffic barriers separating opposing traffic on a two-way roadway.

"Every year more than 100 workers are killed and 20,000 more are injured at roadway construction sites," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "These workers deserve the benefits of this new rule: improved traffic controls, more effective protective clothing, and the necessary information and guidance that will provide better protection from safety hazards on the job."