Improve Night Site Safety with Road Commander
When it comes to night paving, any additional flash of light could save a life. This is something Matt Payne, safety director at Ajax Paving Industries, Troy, Michigan, knows all too well.
“We’ve been trying to do less night work because of the increased dangers it presents,” Payne said. “Because there’s less traffic at night, drivers tend to speed, they may be less concerned about law enforcement, and there’s also an increased risk of driving while intoxicated.”
Although day paving continues to be Payne’s preference, the company is still regularly required to work at night. When it does, the company employs standard work zone lighting required by law, but also goes the extra mile by equipping its employees with hardhat lights. Now, Ajax is taking its night job site lighting one step further with the Road Commander flare from Nite Beams, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
“Night paving always poses additional challenges and hazards. Anything we can do to give added comfort, peace of mind, or improved safety to our workers will always be a worthy investment.” – Matt Payne
The Road Commander is a job site light that aims to prevent accidents and save lives by alerting motorists to move over, slow down, or both. Road Commander was developed by Nite Beams Founder Mike “Tonto” Alexander, who saw opportunities to improve upon existing road flare systems. After talking to law enforcement, firefighters, tow operators, departments of transportation and road workers, Alexander developed a flare that is both durable and waterproof, with a military-grade high-impact casing that is also magnetic for easy attachment to vehicles or other metal surfaces. It can also be placed on the road, on an accompanying magnetic tripod for added height up to 12 inches, or the tripod legs can be closed and placed inside a construction cone hole for additional height.
Nite Beams also makes the Cone Commander hoop for safety cone lighting, Head Commander hardhat light, and an assortment of wrist, clip and body lights. The company also won an ATSSA Product Innovation Award in 2016 for its LED safety vest.
“What we like about Road Commander is that it’s flexible; it can be applied to barrels and equipment,” Payne said. Ajax prefers to deploy the Road Commanders on its equipment, particularly toward the back of the paving crew including its rollers and density truck. “That way, the traveling public can see the Road Commanders going off right away and slow down.” This also means no one needs to keep moving the lights as the crew travels down the road.
“We were initially worried the vibration of our rollers would shake the Road Commander loose, but the magnet is so strong it can stay in place no matter what,” Payne said. “We love the durability and can tell it’s a well-made product.”
A Good Idea from Day 1
According to Payne, Ajax has a three-legged stool approach of safety, quality and productivity. “Safety is the most important of the three,” Payne said. “If we don’t have safety, the stool doesn’t work.”
The company has a safety suggestions program where it encourages its employees to share any ideas that could enhance their safety. Whenever the company receives a suggestion, it strives to demo a potential solution. “That’s exactly what happened with the Road Commander,” Payne said.
To demo the product, Ajax sent three Road Commanders out to one of its night projects. “We just charged them up prior to the job, did a quick demo of the lighting patterns at the Toolbox Talk huddle, taught them how to recharge them via the built-in solar panel, and that was that,” Payne said.
According to Payne, the lights don’t require manual recharging so long as they get enough sun to charge – for example, if the lights remain mounted on equipment used both during the day shift and at night or equipment that’s parked outside during the day. “Then, you just have to click it on and it’s ready to go,” he said. “There’s no replacing batteries and the battery life can last us a full shift.”
“What we love most about this product is that it’s straightforward to implement and simple to use,” Payne said. The product was so well received by the demo crew that the company has since purchased several more kits, with each crew using between three and five Road Commanders on any given night job.
Although the flare can flash in multiple colors, including red, green, yellow, blue, yellow/blue, blue/green, yellow/green and red/blue, Ajax prefers green or yellow/green because the green stands out against the typically yellow construction equipment and offers good visibility. According to Nite Beams, light from the Road Commander can be seen from one mile away. “We also like that the light flips open, so it’s visible from every angle,” Payne said.
Ajax cannot use Road Commander settings containing blue and red lights because they are designated for emergency vehicles, though it usually has red and blue lights on its job in the form of a police officer parked on most of its nightly closures for extra protection.
Although going the extra mile for job site lighting is nothing new for Ajax, its new Road Commanders offer one more way to light up its night job sites.
“Night paving always poses additional challenges and hazards,” Payne said. “The Road Commander gives us one more light the motoring public will see as they approach us to trigger them to slow down. Anything we can do to give added comfort, peace of mind, or improved safety to our workers will always be a worthy investment.”