Safety - from my point of view

By Pete Quinlan

Safety is the upmost priority on every job.  A serious workplace injury or death changes lives forever.  Not just for the workplace, but for families, friends, communities, and coworkers too.  Human loss and suffering is immeasurable.  No monetary value can be put on your employee’s life. 

If someone were to ask you why safety is important, how would you respond?  You may “know” that it’s important to keep safety in mind as you go about your daily work, but how would you explain the reasons why this is the case?  Here is something to think about.

Humans become tolerable to their environment over a period of time.  When I am on a heavy highway job, I am tolerable and comfortable with traffic flying by at 80 mph.  I can go about my work and think nothing of it. 

When someone new comes out to the job, such as an inspector or contractor, and an 18-wheeler passes by at 75 mph, I can for sure expect a “deer in the headlight look!”  Everyone needs to pay attention to what they are doing and watch their surroundings.  Every year you hear on the news where a contractor or KDOT worker was struck by a vehicle and killed.  These accidents can be prevented. 

Besides paying attention to your work environment, highway workers need to make sure they have the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  Can I be seen by motorist?  A worker needs to be sure his vest is bright and in good condition.

As the superintendent on the job, my ultimate goal is to make sure everyone goes home at night to see their families.

Pete Quinlan is with Bettis Asphalt & Construction, Inc.



Move over for workers

Scott Thompson, KTA Assistant Foreman, shares his scary, personal story about an incident in a work zone October 2014.

It was October 28, 2014. I remember it was around lunchtime and it was a nice, bright sunny day. We were working on patching a part of the road at mile marker 204. The road was down to one lane on the outside. To keep safe, we had a crash barrier with an arrow board on the back of a truck to signal to drivers we were around.

The wind was breezy that day, so I let a car pass by - I didn’t want it to get asphalt on it. Then I stepped out on the divider line. I saw another car coming, and I believed I was making eye contact with the driver. The next thing I knew, that car swerved over and hit the cone just in front of our barrier truck. I yelled, “Look out!” and rushed two steps back. The car went down into that hole where I was standing! The driver came out of the hole and just barely missed our other truck. She took out more cones while she fled the scene.

Fortunately, we were able to call it in to troopers who caught up with the driver later down the road, thanks to the good description a fellow co-worker got of the vehicle and the driver. We later learned that she admitted to the trooper she fell asleep at the wheel.

If I hadn’t seen that vehicle, it’s likely I wouldn’t have gotten out of the way in time. My co-worker who was on a truck would have most likely been hit as well. I guess it just wasn’t my day to die, and I’m grateful for that!

If you’re driving through a work zone, remember to slow down and pay attention. Move over for workers. When you see those arrow boards telling you to move over, do so immediately, not later. Workers put their lives at risk making the roads better for you.

You will always be loved

By Shirley McDonald
Before you turn on the ignition of your vehicle, take a moment and a deep breath.  Focus.  Clear your mind and think safety for yourself and others.  Engage your seat belt, forget the cell phone. 
Before entering a work zone, pay attention to the alerts that are given well before entry into the zone.  Think about those whose lives depend upon you.  We have all heard these admonitions, unfortunately many do not really listen to the message. Save a life, it may be your own.
In memory of Scott McDonald
killed in a work zone June 1, 2005:
A fraction of a second, a different decision, more awareness, and response ability and you might still be here with your family and friends.  A horrific work zone accident on highway 75 took you away from us 10 years ago and our memories, dreams and plans with you and for you all changed. 
Now you are immortalized, frozen in time while we go on living.  You are missed every second of every day. Your loss created a hole that cannot be filled.  A piece of each of us left behind died with you. Thankfully, you gave so much to us during your life that we can hold on to who you were and who you were becoming, but we will never know who you would have become. 
Your enthusiasm for life, your constant dreaming that life would always get better, knowing that effort and direction in life could get you where you wanted to be are sorely missed. Your commitment to caring for and about others is a precious memory. Each holiday, birthday, anniversary, special shared event becomes a time of sadness and memory of you and your lack of presence in our lives today. We have had to learn to get beyond constant grief and focus on today and what we can do to honor your name. 
As we have said goodbye to other relatives and friends our grief for your loss has swelled again and threatened to overtake us, but that grief has also proven to us that life goes on and that even with grief there can be joy as we commit to other relationships taking the risk to lose again knowing the benefits of being connected.
No one knows what happens when we die. But my mother's belief is that heaven exists and that you are there at peace and with those you have loved who have gone before you. I believe that you can see those of us left behind and serve as our angel. You will always be loved.
Shirley McDonald is the mother of KDOT employee Scotty McDonald, who was killed in a work zone crash in 2005.