By Brian Hall
During the past year, we have heard so much about keeping safe that we have almost become oblivious to the dangers around us. Construction workers, specifically in the asphalt sector, are statistically at a higher risk for injury than most occupations. Let’s face it, the most important job that you have is coming home with the same amount of team members that you left with. You owe it to your co-workers and their families to provide a workplace that is safe and efficient. When the unfortunate accident occurs, does every member of your team know what to do and who to call? Of not, why? No matter what your role on the crew is, your dedication to safety should be job number one.
This month, let’s discuss some policies that should be basic knowledge on the jobsite and beyond.
Safety clothing. This should be standard issue from the time they sign up for work. Each crew member should be expected to show up with the basics as far as their PPE. These will include (at a minimum) reflective clothing, long pants, safety boots and gloves. I get a lot of pushback down south about long pants versus shorts, but one time getting burnt by asphalt or emulsion will change their mind. Speaking of emulsion, operators that are dealing with tack distributors, whether they are truck mounted or trailer mounted, should always have safety glasses or a face shield with them at all times when they are loading or unloading material. Many firms also require hard hats, which is never a bad idea, especially working around sites with new building construction.
Machine Safety. All manufacturers are required to have certain safety features on their machines and it is the responsibility of the contractors to maintain these features. Primary among these are safety decals. These are mandated by OSHA and ASNI to insure that any part of the equipment that could cause harm is properly labeled. Whenever a machine is repainted or if a decal is missing, it should be replaced at once. All manufacturers have decal kits available and diagrams for their placement readily available. ROPS (Roll Over Protection Systems) have been mandated by OSHA since late 1976 and have reduced the fatality rate to near zero. That is, if they are used. Since ROPS systems must be certified by a qualified structural engineer, they should never be removed. The structure is designed to support the total weight of the equipment in case of rollover, so their importance is unquestionable. As with all safety, common sense is the best protection.
Crew Safety. Speaking of common sense, the changing events of the jobsite sometimes cause us to lose some of this. Some of the more common lapses in judgement seem to occur when everything seems to be in chaos. Things like walking between the dump truck and paver during a truck swap, turning your back on the roller and something as mundane as clutter on a screed can cause a fall into the hot asphalt. The cell phone is out best tool, but can be our worst enemy. I know, in 2021 we have to talk on the phone to the foreman, the plant or to the office, but it should be done with caution. Bring the machine to a full stop so that your full attention should be given to the task at hand. The best rule on the jobsite should be that each team member has the right and responsibility to call out another team member for an unsafe action. We owe that to our co-workers and their families.
These are just basic, common sense tips that can make your workplace a little smoother and, in fact, make it a more enjoyable place to come every day. When a crew member knows that their company cares about their safety, it makes it a little more like a family atmosphere. These rules are easily communicated at the daily pre-job meeting that should be held before each day’s work begins. With the shortage of qualified crew members these days, this is an easy way to keep your team intact day in and day out.
Brian Hall, is a LeeBoy Territory Manager. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.