Asphalt paving can be a dangerous job. You’re working with piping hot material next to heavy machinery, often with moving traffic. However, all of these risks can be greatly reduced with these simple best practices.
Here are some ways to keep you and your crew alert to potentially dangerous situations during asphalt paving.
Misused or faulty equipment can cause injuries in the field, so always be sure to:
- Check It—Check equipment before each shift to make sure everything’s in working order.
- Fix It First—Any and all repairs should be made before work begins.
- Turn It Off—Always follow lockout/blockout protocol and turn machines off before starting any maintenance work.
- Idle It—Along the same lines, idle down all equipment and secure the brake before leaving the operator’s station.
- Brake It—All brakes on the machine for service, emergency, and parking must be operational.
- Beep It—Finally, all machines must have a horn to warn the crew of any impending danger.
Traffic is the least predictable and least controllable aspect of asphalt paving. Inexperienced, unskilled, inattentive, or even impaired drivers could be passing through the site, causing the potential for accidents. Luckily, these perils can be alleviated, as well.
- Code It—Check traffic codes to confirm local rules on enacting traffic controls. Where possible, apply even stricter regulations to minimize risk as much as possible for your crew.
- Flag It—Always station flaggers where barricades or signs alone can’t control traffic.
- Shout It—Dispatch lookouts or use flaggers to warn crew of impending traffic.
- Schedule It—Though it’s not always possible, try to schedule work during low traffic hours.
- Inspect It—Check caution signs regularly to make sure they haven’t fallen over.
- Light It—Ensure that caution signs, jobsite, crew, and equipment are all well illuminated during nighttime work.
- Call It—Two way radios are essential tools when worksite entrances are further apart.
- Police It—If working in a congested area, ask local law enforcement to station a flashing cruiser at either end of the jobsite. The lights will catch the driver’s attention, and police presence helps encourage alertness.
On the Worksite
Aside from traffic and machine dangers, there are other troubles on the asphalt paving worksite. These, too, can be minimized. Here’s how.
- Hot Stuff—Asphalt itself is dangerous, so always handle with caution.
- Wear Protection—The crew should wear appropriate and brightly colored Personal Protective Equipment.
- No Loitering—Never stand near the hopper when asphalt’s being discharged. The material can break free and cascade over the side, causing serious injury.
- Stay Put—Never move between paving machine and backing trucks. Pretend the floor is lava, because it basically is.
- Be Loud—Machine operators should always give a shout before driving the machine.
- Keep the Pace—Drivers must also maintain a manageable speed. Going too fast may lead to sloppy mistakes and/or injuries.
- Watch One Another—One of the best ways to stay alert while asphalt paving is, quite simply, to have one another’s backs. If you see a dangerous condition, alert your crew and rectify it immediately.