Use caution in work zones

With road work season soon beginning, thousands of CSEA members will be working on or near roadway work zones, which is among the most dangerous jobs that our union members perform.

CSEA is joining in the observance of National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), an annual campaign held at the onset of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway and road work zones.

This year, National Work Zone Awareness Week is observed from April 15 to April 19. The theme of the 2024 campaign takes an emotional approach that portrays the great importance of Work Zone Awareness, expressing the severity of the matter, why you should care and how you can help keep workers safe.

The theme is, “Work Zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.” The campaign plan involves the spread of awareness, highlighting what can happen if you act careless behind the wheel, for even a second.

Oswego County Blue-Collar Unit member Matt
Stevens works to maintain a road in 2023.
(Photo by Nicholas Newcomb)

“Many of our union members are working in roadway work zones,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan. “This work can be dangerous. We encourage motorists to be alert, be aware of their surroundings and exercise caution when driving in work zones so these workers can return home safely to their families.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 956 people died in work zones, and 108 highway workers died while working on road construction sites in 2021, the latest year data was available.

Since CSEA began keeping records in 1983, nearly 60 members have passed away due to work zone intrusions. Numerous more members are injured every year. Nearly half of the fatalities were caused by motorists. Contributing factors of the deaths and injuries include distracted driving and unsafe speed.

In this 2023
file photo,
City of Port
Jervis worker
Patrick Smith
setting up a work
zone. (Photo by
Jessica Ladlee)

Week of events
The start of National Work Zone Awareness Week is Work Zone Safety Training Day, April 15. The significance of this day is to spread the importance of laying the groundwork for safety. This is achieved through worker training, as well as getting employers involved. Remember that employers are responsible for providing workers with adequate training, personal protective equipment and policies to reduce risk of injury and death.

The week’s events also include “Go Orange Day,” when roadway safety professionals are encouraged to show their support towards work zone safety by wearing orange.

The week will also include a social media storm, when people are urged to post their messages on social media raise awareness of work zone safety, using hashtags such as #NWZAW, #WorkZoneSafety and #Orange4Safety. Workers should participate in such activities on their breaks or off the job.

National Work Zone Awareness Week will conclude with a moment of silence on April 19 for those who have died or been injured while doing their jobs in work zones.

For more information, visit

— Ashley McNeal

Stay safe while driving in work zones

If you are traveling through a work .zone, here are some tips from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help keep CSEA members working on or near them safe:

  • Stay focused on driving.
  • Avoid all distractions when traveling through work zones, including mobile device use.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Follow all posted instructions.
  • When directed to change lanes for lane closures, do so as early as possible. Watch for vehicles around you that could be in your blind spot.
  • Give workers and other vehicles plenty of space.

Workers from the New York State
Department of Transportation
conduct road repairs on Route
9W after the July 9, 2023, floods
washed out significant portions
of the highway. (Photo provided by
New York State DOT.)

Mourn for the dead; fight for the living

On April 28, CSEA and other unions around the world will remember those who have died or been seriously injured while doing their jobs.

Workers’ Memorial Day, observed since 1989, serves as an opportunity to mourn fallen workers. The AFL-CIO chose April 28 as the observance date to coincide with the anniversary of the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.


This year, our union mourns the loss of Western Region member Aaron Peters, a parks and recreation aide 6 at the Niagara State Parks Commission. Aaron passed away on Jan. 17, 2024, while doing tree work. CSEA and PESH are investigating his death.

In addition to remembering fallen workers, Workers’ Memorial Day is also a chance to renew our union’s ongoing commitment to safe and healthy workplaces.

While unions have been key to securing safer and healthier workplaces, there is still much work to do to ensure workplace safety.

CSEA members are encouraged to attend Workers’ Memorial Day events in their communities. Visit and your region’s Facebook page for information on events in your area.


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