Go nuts for safety

Cody, foreman for a paving contractor in Redmond, Oregon told session four of the Leadership Development Lab

“Early in the morning of April 4th, 2017, my paving crew and I went to Tetherow Resort (Bend, Oregon) to pave a residential driveway. We were paving along getting things done as usual. I was finishing up driving the paver backward to pull the last run.

I was holding on tightly to the joystick that controls the paver as I was nearing our customer’s garage. The joystick control box is clamped to a perpendicular 1″ steel pipe welded on to the paver. The control box is attached to the pipe with a clamp that is held there by two wing nuts. If the wing nuts aren’t tight the box just spins around 360°. When I was only inches from our customer’s garage, I moved the joystick forward. The clamp slipped and the paver didn’t stop – it just kept on moving. In a panic I reversed the direction on the joystick and the paver started to go through the garage. Luckily the emergency shut off switch touched the trim of the garage and shut the paver down. If that hadn’t happened, one of my crew and I could have been seriously injured. Later that day when I got back to the shop I grabbed a crescent wrench and wrenched the wing nuts tighter than anyone could have ever done by hand. Hex nuts would have made tightening the clamp a heck of a lot easier.

“The lesson I learned from this experience is to always do a complete ‘walk-around.’ Take all safety precautions before getting on the machine to start the day’s work.

“The action I call you to take is make a thorough inspection of the machinery and equipment you operate before you start your days’ work.

“The benefit you will gain is a safe work environment and you will be much less likely to have freak accidents on your job sites.”

My client called the manufacturer of the sophisticated computer assisted operating system they use on these pavers to tell them what a poor system they used for attaching the control box they had chosen. Knurling it with grooves or better yet a slotted groove attached with a hex nut that you can use a socket wrench on would be a giant step forward. All the technology in the world is useless if the mechanical interface isn’t practical.