Easy-to-make sign alerts truck drivers to overhead lines

Remembering to watch out for overhead lines can be difficult when they are barely visible or impossible to see from the cab of a haul truck. And when drivers are concentrating on dumping asphalt, keeping dangerous electrical lines in mind is even tougher.

“If drivers are focused on watching someone tell them to dump a little more, dump a little more as they are moving forward, and overhead lines are not marked, they have to do it by memory,” says Al Quist, safety manager for the materials and contracting division of Aggregate Industries West Central Region, Golden, Colorado.

After some of the company’s trucks struck overhead lines because drivers forgot to put their truck boxes down or didn’t put them down quickly enough, the firm’s safety committee recommended using a combination of standard orange traffic cones and signs to alert drivers to the location of overhead lines. The company purchased sign piping, and employees inserted it into the cones and attached signs reading “Danger Overhead Lines” with three arrows pointing upward. At night battery-operated amber beacons attached to the cones illuminate the signs.

The invention was a finalist in the National Asphalt Pavement Association’s 2002 Work Zone Safety Innovations program. Aggregate Industries now places the cone/signs wherever truck traffic crosses overhead lines at its jobsites. Quist says the devices are easy to transport and don’t tip over. Since the company has been using them, no trucks have hit power lines in the work area.

Quist says the firm’s truck drivers love the signs. “It reminds them to keep their boxes down,” he says. “Striking overhead lines could be a fatal error. Under a particular set of conditions, you could lose two or three employees in one accident.”