Cameras could keep road construction crews alive, safety advocate says

A pilot project that will see cameras installed at construction zones across the province will hopefully prevent further loss of life, says a construction safety advocate.

Jackie Manuel says too many workers have lost lives on N.L. roads

Workers put out warning cones at road work in Conception Bay South, but contractors say the signs aren't enough. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

A pilot project that will see cameras installed at construction zones across the province will hopefully prevent further loss of life, says a construction safety advocate.

Jackie Manuel, CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association, said there have been far too many lives lost due to accidents on construction sites.

"I've been with the Construction Safety Association for about 14 years and I don't know that a year has gone by when a construction worker hasn't lost their life on the side of the highway," she said Wednesday.

"The numbers are staggering for those who have lost their lives or been injured just for getting up and going to work."

Jackie Manuel, the CEO of the N.L. Construction Safety Association, says she hopes the new cameras will encourage drivers to be more careful and slow down. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Earlier this year, a flag person in his early 50s was struck and killed by a pickup between Heart's Content and New Perlican.

In 2013 a man was hit by a truck on a construction site and died near Flat Bay.

Manuel hopes installing cameras will remind drivers their actions can have real and fatal consequences.

"If common sense and common decency alone aren't enough for people to slow down, and respect these workers on the side of the road, then maybe this will be another deterrent for them maybe to check their behaviour," she said.

Highway Traffic Act changes paved way

The road to installing these cameras was paved after changes to the Highway Traffic Act allowed video footage to be used as evidence to issue speeding tickets to the registered owner of a vehicle.

"If you go through a construction zone and you're speeding, we will actually photograph your vehicle, your plate, and we would then forward that, if the incident was severe ... we would actually forward that information on to the authorities," said Transportation Minister Steve Crocker. 

Surveillance cameras are already in some places along the highway, like this one near the weigh scales at Foxtrap. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

He said the government will issue a request for proposals for the cameras in the next few days.

That process will determine how many cameras will be purchased, where they'll be placed, and just how much all this will cost.

Crocker says contractors are fully supportive and eager to have cameras placed at their sites.

Transportation Minister Steve Crocker says it's important to protect the safety of construction workers. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

The department also plans to install cameras at some construction sites that aren't on highways.

"We have to remember that these people are in construction zones and anything we can do to help protect these people, we need to do it," he said.

"It's their workplace."

With files from Terry Roberts