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Construction worker safety

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July 30, 2002

by Ashley Harper

Mark Polo has worked Interstate construction for nearly 20 years. Accidents like the one yesterday on I-75 near Cordele remind him of the great danger he puts himself in each day.

"At any time on these type of Interstate projects, you're putting yourself in jeopardy," says Polo.

Mark and his co-workers spend countless hours each week along Georgia highways, making sure the roads are safe for travelers. But he says the purpose of their job is often taken for granted.

"The traveling public feels like they're inconvenienced because we have to slow down traffic during their traveling time, but that's the only chance we have to do the work, says Polo.

The Georgia Department of Transportation estimates that 50,000 cars travel this area of Interstate 75 each day, most at speeds more than 70 miles per hour.

"You just do what you can to keep your people alive and hope everything goes okay, but something's most likely going to happen with that vehicle count going through here," says Polo.

Yesterdays accident brings the total number of fatalities to only two for Douglas Asphalt, but Mark says the safety of his workers is never ensured.

"They have to understand that if they're going to do this kind of work, when problems come they have get out of the way or else."

But highway travelers can take measures to help protect these workers.

"Stay alert to construction zones and just be aware of the workers around you," says Polo.

Road construction is a continuous cycle, and workers will always be on Georgia highways. But with slower speeds and more alert drivers, travelers can help put the brakes on the amount of fatalities in construction zones.