Sacrificial Trucks

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Recently I had the opportunity to go to a safety seminar hosted by the Washingtom Department of Transportation. I learned a whole new prospective on the safety hazards faced by people working next to roadways. Here are a few highlights:

Hard hats

There are several different kinds of hard hats and only the most recent kind actually has a chin strap. Hard hats without that chin strap are extremely ineffective, which makes sense if you think about tripping hazards on many sites where hard hats are required.

High visibility vests

A high visibility vest should be worn from the minute you get into the car. Think about all the times you’ve seen a construction worker get out of his truck and THEN put his vest on. Those few seconds where he is not visible on the side of the car are the most important to his safety. Those are the few seconds during which most workers are hit by oncoming traffic.

Work safety zones

Setting up what is called a “work safety zone” is extremely important for prolonged work on roadsides. This takes the form of a work tent usually set off on the shoulder where the bulk of work is being done.

Work trucks

Part of the work safety zone is the “work truck”. A work truck is a truck or van which is 10 to 20 feet away from the work being done and usually has all of the tools needed to accomplish the tasks at hand.

Sacrificial trucks

The last and arguably most important part of the work safety zone is the “safeguard truck” or what I like to call the sacrificial truck. This truck is parked 10 to 20 feet away from the work truck and usually has an extra aluminum cage behind the bumper to absorb impact from any errant or runaway vehicles that might head toward the work zone and pose a danger to workers.

This safety scheme was the only reason every single worker walked away from a recent collision. A semi truck driver lost control of his truck, ran off the road, and crashed into the safety zone at 70mph. Without the sacrificial truck (which was pushed 40 feet and turned into a frightening oragami project), the workers would have been hit square by their own work van and been gravely injured.

So next time you see two trucks parked on the side of the road some distance apart say a little prayer for those sacrifical trucks that have your back. 😉

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