Manitoba Government introduces bill to better protect road workers
After the Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) called for change last summer, the Manitoba government has introduced a bill to strengthen safety protections for road workers.
The MFL was concerned that current safety rules leave it to drivers to determine "when workers are present" in order to know whether or not they need to slow down. This has left many drivers confused, and uncertain how to do the right thing. In one tragic case in 2010, 21 year old Brittany Murray when she was struck by a driver travelling at 112km/h through a Manitoba construction zone. In the driver's trial, the judge ruled that Manitoba signage rules were not sufficiently clear that the reduced limit of 60km/h was in effect at the time. The driver was acquitted, and the Murray family has been calling for change to strengthen the rules meant to protect workers like Brittany.
The new law, announced by Labour Minister Erna Braun on November 15, 2013, will enable regulations that:
- require clear signage that tells drivers entering construction zones exactly when they need to slow down and by how much;
- double regular fines for speeding in construction zones;
- establish strong requirements for traffic safety management in construction zones;
- specify when traffic control devices such as barriers and rumble strips are required to protect; workers.
The Minister also announced that the Labour Department will expand its enforcement of safety rules in construction zones.
"We are going to have a lot more workers on the roads over the next five years as we meet our commitments to invest in infrastructure and jobs," said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton, who also played a key role in developing the new law.
MFL President kevin Rebeck welcomed the new law and pledged to work with the province to ensure the law gets passed, and strong regulations are implemented.
"With these changes, drivers, workers and employers will know what's expected of them to ensure everyone is safe," said Rebeck.
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