Operating Engineers 324 celebrate signing of bill to protect road construction workers, boost traffic safety
LANSING, Michigan – This week, Operating Engineers 324 applauded Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for signing into law robust safety measures to protect workers at road, highway and bridge construction sites. The new law, authored by Operating Engineers 324, requires the Michigan Department of Transportation to use concrete barriers or other temporary traffic barriers when closing a freeway or a portion of freeway during construction and maintenance work.
“Thank you to Governor Whitmer, the Michigan Legislators, Operating Engineers 324, and everyone in the construction industry who fought to pass this legislation because this law will help save lives,” said Rachel Snell, whose husband Dave Snell was killed while working in a construction zone on I-75 in Detroit in 2018. “No family should have to suffer the pain and agony of losing a loved one while working in live traffic. This law will help keep those who do, much safer.”
“Gov. Whitmer’s signature was an emotional moment for operating engineers, especially for Rachael Snell, the wife of 324 member Dave Snell, who was killed on a road project in Detroit nearly five years ago,” said OE324 President Ken Dombrow. “The Operating Engineers never forgot and never gave up on making sure this legislation was passed. This will ensure the safety of the men and women out there fixing Michigan’s roads.”
An estimated three to four construction workers are killed on Michigan roads each year. The MDOT forecasts more road construction projects in the next decade, with traffic construction sites often causing congestion that could increase risks and the potential for reckless driving. To minimize traffic congestion, some crews work on roads at night, although visibility is lower at night, and rates of drunken driving tend to be higher compared with during the day.
“Operating engineers and construction professionals across Michigan who build, maintain and repair our roads, highways and bridges now have an additional protection when they go to work, often just a few feet away from vehicles travelling at high rates of speed,” said state Senator John Cherry, who championed the legislation. “Men and women who work on Michigan’s critical infrastructure deserve to know that policymakers are doing everything we can to keep them safe on the job, so they can return to their families when their shifts end.”