Safety issues abound on paving projects, particularly when it comes to roads where the public presence often travels side by side with the paving train.
Rod Sutton recently spoke with Mandy Kustra, safety director for Ajax Paving Ind. Of Florida, about safe paving practices for not only the job site but also the machines doing the work.
Sutton: When it comes to asphalt paving machines, what safety recommendations do you have?
Kustra: For asphalt pavers, a lot of the maintenance does have to be done in the field. So if we are doing some maintenance in the field, we try to have two mechanics on the job so they can look out for each other. Making sure you have two mechanics on a task, knowing whether it could be done in the field, or you have to bring it into the shop. It comes down to a lot of locking out, tagging out. Make sure that you've de-energized everything.
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One of the big things that Ajax, as far as all equipment in general, not just pavers, is, we require before the start of your shift, to do a 360 walk-around. Also, we have operator care manuals here at Ajax. It’s a QR code on that piece of equipment, and you can scan it with your phone, and it will let you know where the grease points, the blind spots, stuff to keep a lookout for on each piece of equipment.
Sutton: Is that information that Ajax has created itself and put the codes on itself?
Kustra: Yes. It’s part of our total reliability process. Each QR code is specific to that piece of equipment, and it's almost like an internal owners manual, per se.
So you can scan it. It'll show you the piece of equipment. Show you where to grease, how to check fluids, what to open what not to open it gives you kind of a breakdown of that piece of equipment, what to look for, what to stay away from.
It also gives you an operator’s view as to the blind spots. People don't realize the size of the blind spots when you're up on a paver or a piece of equipment. They're much larger than you think, and when you're on the ground, “Oh, I'm good. They can see me.”
Another thing at Ajax is, if you're within 10 feet of a piece of equipment, you have to get a thumbs up from the operator that they do see you and know that you're there.
Sutton: The materials that the person accesses when they scan the code? Are they materials that you created yourself?
Kustra: Yes. We had an internal team that created everything ourselves. We might use the manufacturers blind spots, but we would put it into this QR code or document, where they can easily access it in the field.
A lot of it comes down to communication while you're on the paver. If you are in a work zone, that’s the main thing: to make sure that you have communication. For our paving crews, we just implemented headsets. Certain people on the crew will have headsets that they can communicate with each other.
It's a radio headset with a microphone. So if I'm up on the paper, I can communicate to the lead guy on the ground, or even the lead roller further ahead. We can keep everybody in the loop. It's much easier than yelling, “Car in the work zone.” We can communicate across that mile- or 2-mile project.
Sutton: What are some of the general practices that you've put in place to keep your paving crew safe?
Kustra: One of our major general practices that we have in place is called an internal traffic control plan. What our superintendents do is use Bluebeam to take a map or picture of the job site. They will let everybody know where trucks are supposed to be coming into, where to expect the equipment, what to expect on the job site. We will have diagrams like, asphalt trucks will be a red line. So it helps organize all the equipment and the flow of the equipment within the work zone on our job site.
We issue the ITCP for just about every job that we have. It comes from the superintendent or foreman, and we make sure that we get it out to everybody involved. Our subcontractors, our trucking companies, our internal trucking—anybody that would be on site. It explains where our active work zone is, the hours of the shift, what we're going to be doing that day, who to expect on site.