Paving professionals understand the need for reflective clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) during nighttime paving. Reflective clothing is just as important during daytime operations. Every bit of safety yellow, safety orange, safety green, reflective tape and bright white outlining a worker’s presence is an extra bit that can catch a passing motorist’s eye.
The crews of Brannan Sand and Gravel in Denver take that “extra bit” seriously, and management requires roadway workers to wear a simple garment called the Safety Gator—or mesh shin reflector. While that might sound like a type of reptile at first, it’s more like a flashback to the 1980s and the leg warmers worn for aerobic workouts and fashion trauma in junior highs and high schools across North America. Luckily, these gators are made of a breathable material/mesh that lets air get to worker’s legs. They’re light weight and bright. Just what the safety director ordered.
The health risk management director for Brannan is Gerardo Ruelas-Orozco. He described the gators as a whole leg wrap that covers the worker from the bottom of the knee to the ankle in safety yellow. It includes two reflective bands that go all the way around the leg.
“We’ve been using them at least five years,” Orozco said. “The full pants get hot and really dirty. These are more comfortable.” He explained that safety directors in any company will hear complaints from workers about hard hats or other types of PPE that they must wear, but the workers eventually grow accustomed to the safety gear. “With these gators, there were no complaints. The workers prefer them to the full pants.”
Another plus for the workers at Brannan Sand and Gravel in Denver is that the company takes care of the cost. “We provide them. There’s no cost to the employee,” Orozco said. “If they’re working at dusk or in the dark, they have to have these on. If they don’t, it’s a safety policy violation, and the employee faces disciplinary action.”
Depending on the number of safety violations a crew member has committed, that disciplinary action could be termination. The company is serious about keeping workers safe. Requiring the Safety Gators is just one item in the safety policy, but it wasn’t difficult to implement.
“We checked around to see where we could find it,” Orozco said. They found the Safety Gators through a local supplier of safety equipment.
There’s only one size of mesh shin reflectors, so a company can order in bulk for several crews. They’re typically less than $7 a pair.
The gators wrap the whole leg from the bottom of the knee to the ankle in safety yellow. Two reflective bands that wrap all the way around the leg provide additional glow.
A great way to add more visibility to the flagger on the job is to put a pair of mesh shin reflectors on his or her legs. Here Gerardo Ruelas-Orozco stands with the flagger on a job in Denver.
Everyone on the crew wears the gators except the paver operator up on the platform during the daytime paving job.