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Project Objective

This project will conduct an investigation of human factors in nighttime work zones aimed at that ultimately will lead to the definition of work standards that mitigate human factors such as worker fatigue, safety, quality control and absenteeism. In doing so, the research team will: a) identify the main issues as perceived by the various stakeholders; b) design and conduct a data collection process, based on experimental design, that will provide the basis for a preliminary design of work standards aimed at addressing the issues previously identified; c) enhance and improve the preliminary design of work standards with the feedback and input from the various stakeholders.

Project Abstract

This research project is aimed at providing insights into the human factors associated with nighttime work zones on the New Jersey Department of Transportation construction and maintenance projects. It examines the impacts that nighttime construction activity has upon the workers. These impacts are assessed through field surveys and interviews that included: highway engineers, construction workers, field supervisors, and contractors. The research methodology consists of: field data from these interviews are analyzed for human factors such as sleep deprivation, eating habits, commuting difficulties and social/domestic issues. This research found evidence of long working hours, social and family disruption, long commutes and sleep deprivation. The workers interviewed agreed unanimously that nighttime work has: (a) a negative impact on their body rhythms; and (b) a negative reaction impact on their social and family life. They are almost unanimous in their statements that their families react negatively to them working at night.

Task Descriptions

Literature review. The first activity will be comprised of a comprehensive literature review on the subjects of lighting standards, work zone safety, traffic control, and all publications documenting guidelines for nighttime work zones that may affect, directly or indirectly, the corresponding human factors. The main objective of this review is to put together the body of regulations and previous experience with various nighttime work standards in the Nation, and abroad.

Creation of Advisory Group (New Jersey Quality Initiative). An advisory group, comprised of representatives of the different stakeholders (e.g., workers, supervisors, constructors, NJDOT staff) will be assembled, under the coordination and monitoring of the New Jersey Quality Initiative (NJQI). The Advisory Group will have an important role in ensuring proper consideration of the multiple facets of the problem, providing guidance to the research team, and overall, ensuring the consistency of the research approach with project's objectives.

Initial identification of human factor issues. Based upon the feedback of the Advisory Group and an initial set of interviews with stakeholders, the most critical human factor issues will be identified. This definition will be accompanied with the identification and categorization of the work methods most relevant to the purposes of this investigation.

Experimental design. Once the human factor issues and the most relevant work methods have been identified by the Advisory Group, the research team will proceed to design the experiments and survey instruments that will be used to gather the corresponding data. This process will be comprised of: a) the definition of the statistical frame for the sample; b) the design of the survey instrument; and c) test pilot the questionnaire, which will be used to assess its efficiency and convenience.

Data collection. The data collection process will be comprised of three major components a) site visits; b) videotaping of actual work zones; and, c) interviews with stakeholders. During the site visits, the questionnaire previously designed will be used to collect data, in a systematic fashion, on the various human factors and work methods under study. The site visits will also provide an opportunity to videotape actual operations. The videotapes will be post-processed and analyzed to complement the data gathered by the questionnaires. In addition, interviews with stakeholders will be conducted, either by phone or in person during site visits. These interviews with transportation officials, constructors, supervisors and other stakeholders with experience on nighttime work will provide insights into ways to ameliorate negative impact upon human factors. Taken together, these interviews will provide a comprehensive picture of all sides of the issue.

Analysis of survey results. The results of the data collection process described above will be analyzed to determine the most relevant aspects and to provide quantitative evidence that will ultimately support the development of the nighttime work zone standards.

Preliminary design of nighttime work standards. On the basis of the information gathered through the data collection process, and the guidance provided by the Advisory Group, the research team will produce a preliminary definition of the nighttime work standards, aimed at mitigating the impacts upon human factors.

Focus groups of stakeholders. Once the preliminary nighttime standards have been designed, focus groups of stakeholders will be assembled. The focus groups will provide invaluable insights into the advantages and disadvantages associated with the preliminary nighttime standards. The focus groups will assess the practicality and implications of the proposed standards. The input from the focus groups will provide the basis for another round of review and enhancement of the proposed standards.

Final design of standards. Final report. Based upon the feedback and guidance from the Advisory Group and the focus groups, the preliminary standards will be improved and enhanced. A final round of review and comments from the Advisory Group will ensure the practicality and overall adequacy of the final product. The final report will summarize the main findings of the investigation.

Student Involvement

Throughout the investigation, both graduate and undergraduate students will participate in the different activities. Their involvement would include data collection, data analysis, computer application and drafting.

Relationship with Other Research Activities


Technology Transfer Activities

See benefits below.

Benefits of the Project

The development and implementation of the New Jersey Department of Transportation standards for nighttime work zone will mitigate negative impact of nighttime work upon human factors of the different stakeholders. More importantly, the consideration of stakeholder input through focus groups and the Advisory Group will ensure that all sides of the problem are adequately taken into account. One Transportation Research Board Paper was completed for the January 2002 TRB Meeting.