After you’ve been on the paving crew for a while, you might get so used to backup alarms and flashing lights that you tune them out. Don’t let this happen. You must always be on the alert for threats to your safety, no matter how many years you have under your belt. You only need to be careless once for tragedy to strike. Safety is for life. New crewmembers make mistakes because they lack experience, but even experienced crewmembers can make mistakes. When that happens, it’s usually from complacence.
This is where the buddy system comes in. I watch you, you watch me. New crew members will of course have a mentor assigned to help them, but all workers should have a partner—a buddy—on the job site who keeps an eye out for threats to his partner. While on a milling job, if you lose track of your partner for a moment, look for him. Find him. Make sure he didn’t trip over a loose straight edge and fall into the milling machine operator’s blind spot. If you’re on a nighttime paving project and you’ve lost track of your buddy, find him. Make sure he didn’t step out of the pool of light and into traffic or over a guardrail.
Pay attention to your job, no matter what. Distraction is dangerous. Whether you’re flagging or operating the paver, do not use your cell phone, iPod, headphones, games, or other distracting personal items. You need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. That doesn’t just mean visually. You should also pay attention to unfamiliar sounds and smells. If the paver or roller makes a sudden jolt, something is wrong. Don’t ignore warning signs of problems that could develop into hazards for you or fellow crew members.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR MODULE 2:
Talk to the rest of your crew about these key safety issues.
List three additional places to install light on a paver, in addition to overhead lighting, according to John Ball. Is your paver equipped with all the right lights for safe nighttime paving?