Keeping passersby safe is a major concern when it comes to construction worksite safety. After all, the average construction site is host to a wide variety of both visible and unseen dangers. These dangers become all the more apparent for individuals suffering from disabilities that affect their movement or eyesight.
When purchasing or renting barricades and construction fencing for the purpose of preventing unauthorized persons from straying into construction areas, it's important to consider how those with disabilities will be able to successfully navigate past the barricaded area.
The Importance of ADA Compliance
Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to overlook the needs of the disabled community, especially when it comes to controlling traffic within and near areas where construction is taking place. The obstacles that most people encounter and surmount without a second thought can be extraordinarily difficult or even impossible for those with mobility and sight limitations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is designed to prevent discrimination against those with disabilities and it also ensures maximum accessibility to public facilities. As a result, barricades and fencing used to direct pedestrian traffic around construction areas must be designed with the safe transit of disabled pedestrians in mind.
Remaining in compliance with ADA standards throughout the construction process is important. Although the actual construction area is exempt from ADA compliance standards, walkways and other areas nearby must remain accessible to those with visual and mobile disabilities.
Ideal Characteristics to Consider
ADA compliant pedestrian barriers feature a wide range of features designed to help aid and assist those with disabilities. Many of these features abide by the standards set under Section 6F.58 in the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD):
- Pedestrian barriers and fencing should feature a common vertical plane. This feature helps reduce tripping hazards that could occur with protruding or canted surfaces.
- Barriers should offer an interlocking feature that eliminates gaps and ensures the smooth flow of traffic for all pedestrians. Interlocking barriers will create a continuous, smooth flowing channel for guiding pedestrians through the construction area.
- Drums, cones and tubular markers used to denote construction areas must have a minimum height of 36 inches and be located in a way that eliminates any gaps between the bases of the barriers. This is so that blind pedestrians can safely use long canes to detect the barriers.
- Large pedestrian barriers should feature rounded tops that allow a smooth transition to guide rails. This feature helps prevent hand-snagging hazards that could injure or inconvenience disabled pedestrians.
- Barriers should feature a non-symmetrical design to help disabled pedestrians determine the correct access route for traversing past marked construction areas.
In addition, all pedestrian barriers should be brightly colored with reflective tape and high-visibility paints such as safety orange and safety yellow. Warning lights are also an option for areas where low-visibility conditions such as fog or snow are relatively common. These features can help disabled pedestrians with poor eyesight to safely navigate past the construction area.
What to Avoid
Along with the above ideal characteristics to look for in ADA-compliant pedestrian barriers, there are several traits that should be avoided.
- Improvised barricades with gaps that allow vision-impaired pedestrians to stray into the construction area. These often include scaffolding connected with construction tape to form navigable channels.
- Individual barriers without solid detectable edging, as these barriers don't offer areas that long cane users can safely detect without the risk of snagging or breaking the cane.
- Soft plastic fencing that allows pedestrians to push or fall through and into the construction area.
Ensuring that your barricades and fencing are compliant with the latest ADA standards helps disabled pedestrians while improving safety for others. Contact a company like Statewide Rent-A-Fence for more information.