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Increased speed limits increase highway workers' worries

Among the many highway construction workers across the United States, those that work in Pennsylvania are concerned over the increases in work zone speed limits by Penndot set to take place in August 2014. According to a recent report, the speed limit in many work zone areas will be raised to 55 and 70 miles per hour outside of work zones. The change puts many roadway workers feeling unsafe in an environment that is already high risk.

As highway workers are seeing more and more drivers blatantly disregarding the speed limits, the change will only make matters worse, said several Pennsylvania highway workers who believe that driving at 55 mph is too fast to begin with. Even law enforcement officials are agreeing with the construction workers' concerns. They stated that they plan on cracking down on speeders by using radar guns as they conceal themselves in construction workers' vehicles and by increasing the number of patrols.

Pennsylvania ranks fourth place as the deadliest state for construction workers, according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It found that of the 249 individuals who were killed in work zone areas throughout the country from 2004 to 2014, 49 were construction workers. One Penndot worker was killed as he worked at a construction site in Butler Township in 2001 when a student told officers that he dozed off while driving. Co-workers who witnessed the deadly crash said that increasing the speed limits to 55 will also increase the chances for more accidents.

Even when construction companies adhere to all the necessary safety and health codes as set by OSHA, workplace accidents often still take place, creating physical and financial hardships for the workers involved. By filing for workers' compensation benefits, injured employees could receive reasonable medical treatment and potential a partial reimbursement for lost wages during recovery.

Source: WNEP, "Highway Construction Workers Nervous About Higher Speed Limits", Dave Bohman, July 24, 2014

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