Louisiana outlines new safety measures after worker death

December 17, 2019 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s transportation department will boost safety measures at its roadwork sites, the agency’s secretary announced at a ceremony honoring an employee killed on the job this summer.

Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson said Monday that the agency will require a “spotter” on two-person crews to watch traffic. A cone will be placed further back from a work zone, equipped with an alarm that sounds if hit, to give workers advanced warning if a vehicle veers into the area.

The agency also said it is buying 70 trailers with flashing arrows to place in work zones, designed to absorb the impact from a crash before it reaches a work crew. In addition, the color of safety vests and uniforms will change from orange to a bright yellow/green mix, and emergency lights on the department’s vehicles will be upgraded to brighter, more visible colors.

The enhanced safety efforts were announced at a ceremony marking the addition of Johnny Cole’s name to a memorial wall of transportation department employees killed on the job. Cole, a sign specialist in the West Monroe area, died in June when he was struck by an 18-wheeler at a work site.

“The accident that ended the life of Johnny Cole was most tragic because it could have been prevented,” Wilson said in a statement. “So, after extensive research, we are pushing to help ensure our employees in the field are as safe as possible.”