Originally published 05/16/2018
Working on the ground during asphalt paving can be a high-risk occupation. There are hazards of working close to vehicle traffic, heavy equipment, complex machinery, and hot asphalt. Ground workers must always be aware that the traffic near the work area is ultimately controlled by individual drivers who may be inexperienced, unskilled, inattentive, or impaired. There is often no safeguard against these drivers other than the asphalt worker’s constant alertness and attention to the conditions of the jobsite.
Exercise caution when trucks are delivering asphalt. Do not move between the paving machine and backing trucks. Do not work or stand near the hopper of the paving machine when a materials truck is making its initial dump. General repairs must not be made to powered equipment until workers are protected from movement of equipment. Unsafe conditions and situations must be reported to supervisors immediately. Schedule work during low traffic hours if possible. During night operations, precautions need to be taken to yet even a higher level. Where possible light traffic control devices, reduce traffic speeds, and reduce spacing of traffic control devices.
Flaggers must be in a good physical condition, mentally alert, and have the ability to react quickly in an emergency. Flaggers vests, shirt, or jacket must be fluorescent orange, yellow, or yellow-green. Night time work requires retro reflective wear.
To protect against health hazards when working with hot asphalt, wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes:
- Safety goggles or safety glasses.
- Chemical resistant and heavy-duty gloves.
- Respirator when appropriate.
- Hard hat.
- Long sleeved shirts.
- Ear muffs or plugs.
- High waterproof work boots.
- Pants without cuffs that extend over the top of the boots.
Wash hands before eating and leaving the work site. Use soap or other safe cleaners. Eat lunch where the wind will blow fumes away from you. Shower after work as soon as possible. Change work clothes before going home to keep asphalt and solvents out of your car and home.
All workers should be trained in first-aid procedures in case of injury.