The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has renewed the American Concrete Pumping Association (ACPA) exemption (Effective Oct. 9, 2019, Expires Oct. 9, 2024) from the 30-minute rest break requirement in the Agency’s hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. The exemption enables all concrete pump operators, concrete pumping companies, and drivers who operate concrete pumps in interstate commerce to count on-duty time while attending equipment but performing no other work-related activity toward the 30-minute rest break provision of the HOS regulations. FMCSA has analyzed the exemption application and the public comments and has determined that the exemption, subject to the terms and conditions imposed, will achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption.
Originally published 11/08/2017
As the weather gets colder and winter draws near, it’s time to start thinking about taking extra safety precautions when outdoors – whether driving or working on the job site.
Prepare for driving in cold weather.
- You may find frost and ice on roadways and bridges in the morning. Give yourself some extra time for that drive to work. Keep in mind that bridges and overpasses freeze first.
- Drive defensively. Watch out for other drivers who may be driving too fast for conditions or have lost control of their vehicles.
- Make sure your vehicle’s antifreeze is adequate for the temperature.
- Keep an ice scraper; a shovel; jumper cables; some sand, kitty litter or traction mats and a blanket in your vehicle.
- Check the tread on your tires. If it’s less than 1/8 of an inch, consider replacing the tires.
- Check the air tanks on your truck and make sure liquid isn’t building up. Over the winter, air brake lines can freeze if the air tanks aren’t drained.
Dress for working in cold weather.
- Wear layers of clothing. Many layers of thin garments trap heat better than a few thick ones. You can always discard a layer if it gets warmer.
- Consider wearing a liner in your hard hat.
- Consider wearing headbands or hooded jackets to protect your ears.
- Keep clothes clean and dry.
- Wear water-resistant boots.
- Wear windproof outer layers.
- Wear cotton close to the body.
- Wear gloves with liners if possible.
- Consider wearing an extra pair of socks for added warmth.
- Make sure your safety vest is clean and in good repair. As the days get shorter, early, low-light conditions make it very difficult for passing drivers, equipment operators and other co-workers to see you.
Take additional precautions against cold weather.
- When possible, take breaks in warm areas.
- When possible, use approved warming devices. Be cautious of carbon monoxide build up when indoors.
- Use the buddy system and check on each other regularly.
- Be cautious of ice buildup on the jobsite. Slip and fall injuries can occur suddenly.
- When possible, schedule work to avoid being exposed to high-wind conditions.
- When possible, consider working with your back to the wind.
The best time to prepare for the cold is before you are exposed. Think ahead and be prepared for conditions.
Originally published 10/17/2017
Do you drive a vehicle for your company, or operate a piece of heavy equipment on the construction site? If so, do you wear your seat belt?
- People give all kinds of reasons for not wearing a seat belt.
- “They’re uncomfortable.”
- “I’m a good driver.”
- “I don’t need to because my vehicle has air bags.”
- “They wrinkle my clothes.”
- “I’m afraid of getting stuck in the vehicle after a crash.”
- And many more.
Seat belts promote safety by keeping you from hitting the windshield, being thrown from a vehicle, or banging around inside the vehicle and hitting the steering wheel or door if you’re in an accident.
In off-road equipment, your seat belt is foremost designed to keep you in your seat in case of a tip-over. Normal human behavior is to try to jump when a piece of equipment starts to tip. The problem is, you can’t get away from the machine fast enough and the machine will most likely end up crushing you at the head, neck, shoulders or chest. So in a tip-over, you want to wear your seat belt, keep your hands and feet in the cab, lean away from the point of impact and ride it out.
Before you get in your vehicle, know your surroundings. Are there steep slopes or unstable ground?
Inspect your seat belts. Look for broken, missing or frayed belts or damaged belt buckles, and report any problems to your supervisor. Do not use the equipment or drive the vehicle until the seat belts are operating properly.
When you put on your seat belt, be sure to wear it properly. Don’t put the strap under your arm or behind your back. Be sure to cinch the belt tight so that it surrounds your torso and fits snugly.
Be sure the equipment is completely turned off, the parking brake is engaged and the equipment is parked on a level, stable surface before you remove your seat belt.
If your company doesn’t have a seat belt policy, talk to a supervisor about setting one. If you make it a point to buckle up every time you get in a vehicle, eventually you won’t even have to think about it. It will be a habit – a habit that could help you avoid serious injury or even death. Remember, it’s up to you to make safe decisions.
Originally published 10/10/2017
One of the highest causes of injury or even fatality in construction is backing accidents. Every time a machine is put into reverse, the potential for danger exists.
Here are some tips that can help make backing up a safe operation:
- First and foremost, avoid backing equipment and vehicles when at all possible. Plan ahead and set up your site in a way that prevents the need for backing in most instances. Try to position your vehicle so that you can easily pull forward out of a parking spot.
- Make sure your back-up alarm is working.
- You might want to invest in back-up cameras for your equipment or vehicles.
- Mark fixed objects on your jobsite so they are more visible to those operating the equipment or vehicle.
- Place protective barricades to protect people and critical or expensive equipment from struck-by incidents.
- If you must back up, know your blind spots and check them before moving your vehicle. Do a complete walk-around of your vehicle.
- Require everyone near the area where the backing up will take place to wear high visibility apparel and head protection.
- Limit pedestrian and vehicle crossings in areas where backing will occur.
- Utilize spotters to control and direct traffic in high-congestion, high-activity areas. The driver and spotter should agree on a stop signal before the driver begins to move the vehicle.
- Activate warning lights if your vehicle is equipped with them, and sound your horn before backing up.
- Use your mirrors.
- Back up slowly and keep your spotter in view. If you lose sight of your spotter, stop.
Remember, backing accidents are almost always preventable if employees are properly trained and exercises caution. Operators and pedestrians alike must recognize the hazards involved when backing machinery or vehicles, and know what to do to avoid accidents.
Originally published 09/13/2017
The National Safety Council cites motor vehicle collisions as the leading cause of death and injury in the workplace, including construction. One way to help reduce motor vehicle collisions is to drive defensively.
The standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, ANSI/ASSE Z15.1 defines defensive driving skills as “driving to save lives, time and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”
Getting behind the wheel of a car or truck may seem commonplace, but it is likely the most dangerous thing you will do all day. Although you can’t control the actions of other motorists, you have great deal of control over how you operate your own vehicle. Here are a few tips to help you drive safely and defensively.
- Focus on the task at hand. Texting, phone conversations, eating, drinking, adjusting the heat or air conditioning, and engaging in discussions can distract you as you drive and lead to accidents.
- Expect other drivers to make mistakes and anticipate them.
- Slow down. The faster you travel, the longer it takes to stop, and the bigger the impact when you crash.
- Always use your seat belt appropriately. Position the lap belt across the upper thighs and the diagonal belt across the chest.
- When in doubt, yield. If you aren’t certain who has the right of way, yield. Even if you know you have the right of way, if another driver seems to disagree, give in.
- Stop on red. The leading cause of intersection collisions is running the red light.
- Use your blinkers. Make your lane changes and turns predictable and smooth, and always signal in advance.
- Don’t tailgate. Leave adequate space between you and the car in front of you to ensure your safety if you both have to stop quickly. The two second rule is the idea that your car should pass a fixed object two seconds after the car ahead of you when the driving conditions are good. Leave more space in inclement weather.
- Don’t drive after or while consuming alcohol or using drugs.
- Adjust for inclement weather. Wet, slick pavement increases your brake time. Do not use cruise control on wet or icy roads. Add extra space between your car and the one in front of you.
- Make sure your tires are in good shape and inflated properly.
- Use your mirrors.
- Stay alert and take breaks when needed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as driving while drunk. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 21% of fatal crashes.
- Keep calm and enjoy the journey.
Your life, and the lives of others, depends on your ability to drive safely and defensively.
Originally published 08/30/2019
A commonly-overlooked object on any piece of equipment is the tires. In construction, we work with, and around, rubber-wheeled equipment all the time. Properly maintained tires improve vehicle handling, fuel economy, the load-carrying capability of your vehicle or equipment and increase the life of your tires.
Studies of tire safety show that the most important things you can do to avoid tire failure are maintain proper tire pressure, observe tire and vehicle load limits, avoid road hazards, and inspect tires for cuts, slashes or other irregularities. Doing this can help you avoid tire failure, such as tread separation, blowouts and flat tires. Here are some safety tips for proper tire inspection:
- Inspect tires daily for uneven wear patterns, cracks, cuts, slashes, foreign objects or other signs of wear or trauma. Remove bits of glass and other foreign objects wedged in the tread.
- Use a tire pressure gauge to check the tire pressure at least once a month. Do this when the tire is cold (meaning the tire has been still for at least three hours). You can find the manufacturer-recommended tire pressure information on the vehicle door edge, door post, glove box door or in the vehicle owner’s manual. Improper tire pressure can lead to uneven wear, making the tire less effective when stopping or turning, which may cause collisions, sliding and/or stability problems.
- Check the tire tread depth at the same time you check the tire pressure. In general, tires are not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to one-eighth of an inch.
- Make sure the tires are properly balanced. This adjustment maximizes the life of your tires and prevents your vehicle from veering to the right or left when driving on a straight, level road.
- Do not overload your vehicle. Check the tire information placard or owner’s manual for the maximum recommended load for your vehicle.
- If you are towing a trailer, remember that some of the weight of the loaded trailer is transferred to the towing vehicle.
- Slow down if you have to go over a pothole or other object in the road.
- Do not run over curbs, and try not to strike the curb when parking.
Remember to do your part: be tire smart.