Ramming Companies (now Austin Materials) is a subsidiary of Summit Materials employing over 500 people in Texas. Today, 30-40% of all work done by Ramming Companies is conducted at night, usually in high traffic areas. Ramming expects night work to increase in the future.
Ramming Companies meets all minimum standard safety requirements for night work zones across all its projects. Nevertheless, the company decided to take proactive steps to address identified problems and change company culture and behavior and, in 2014, formed a Safety Leadership Team for the purpose of jobsite risk assessment and mitigation.
The Safety Leadership Team (SLT) recognized that work zone accidents were often occurring at night and that the severity of accidents could range from poor production to fatalities. Ramming and the SLT were motivated to take proactive steps to eliminate accidents. In creating a list of jobsite safety issues, two specific concerns were identified and prioritized: 1) truck drivers are confused about the correct entry/exit areas to the jobsite, and 2) employees, even with full reflective gear, are often not seen.
Ramming conducted research during live night projects to assess visibility and lighting over a period of 8 months. Specifically, they focused on methods to assist trucks entering and exiting the work zone and to improve the overall visibility of nighttime employees. Using a risk assessment tool that measured frequency, likelihood, and severity, they established risk scores (from 0-125) for various safety concerns. At the start of the research project, risk scores included:
100 – lack of employee visibility
125 – driver confusion
125 – work zone speeding
30 – working next to live traffic
80 – public not paying attention to work zone
Ramming Companies’ study involved the introduction of two new technologies, electronic beacons to mark the work zone start and end and entry/exit points, and The Halo Light, to enhance the visibility of employees to both equipment operators and the general public.
After 8 months of study, the SLT again used the risk assessment tool. Risk scores at the end of the project were:
- 8 – lack of employee visibility (a 92% risk reduction)
- 4 – driver confusion (97% reduction)
- 24 – work zone speeding (81% reduction)
- 16 – working next to live traffic (47% reduction)
- 48 – public not paying attention to work zone (40% reduction)
Ramming Companies anticipates a 70% overall reduction in safety risk by employing The Halo Light and electronic road beacons. Specifically, the company concluded that The Halo Light significantly enhanced the visibility of its employees both to operators and the general public. The Halo Light was deemed to be easy to use, easy to spot at distance, long lasting, and rugged. Ramming sees benefits to implementing these solutions in other areas including quarries, hot mix plants, during unplanned work hours, and for impromptu traffic control.
Ramming Companies now intends to implement The Halo Light company-wide.
PHOTO DESCRIPTIONS: Top: Signaling to the asphalt paving operator. Middle: Checking the amount of asphalt laid down by the belly dump truck. Bottom: Directing vehicles between the entry/exit areas.
The Halo Light significantly reduced risks related to worker visibility, making our workers safer while also providing more light in their work area.
- Anthony, Safety Coordinator