Even someone with nerves of steel can get a little rattled working on the road just feet from speeding traffic. Our Iowa DOTers work in many different types of work zones with both construction and maintenance projects. Depending on the work to be done, the work zone setups can differ, but many of the same safety measures can be implemented to help both our workers and the drivers on the road get home safely at the end of the day.
To make sure we are living our core values of "safety first" and "people matter," we're preparing our field staff to be as safe and successful as possible on the road. Much like the standardized set of training materials developed for new garage employees, training staff from the Maintenance Bureau and in each district also recently implemented a more formalized work zone training system to assure new team members have the skills they need to safely come back to their loved ones after every shift.
Jason Fisher, the Iowa DOT field training coordinator, said, “This training was developed with input from Iowa DOT employees with years of experience. It is based on safety practices that are proven to work. The pilot project was first developed by members of the District 5 Safety Committee and successfully implemented last year in Southeast Iowa, now we’re working to expand this hands-on session to all areas of the state.”
He continued, “This hands-on training is exactly what these people will be doing every day. We set up common work zones and go through where to best place signs and other elements of the work zone depending on the work being done. There is a classroom element to the training, but we take those lessons right outside and work through different scenarios with the actual equipment that will be used.”
To get this training to as many people as possible, Fisher is working with each of the Iowa DOT’s six district safety garage operations assistants to make this training possible.
This season’s training sessions started in May in North Iowa with District 2 staff. The training then moved to Central Iowa and District 1 staff. Fisher said, “We are scheduled to present the training to 25 to 30 people at two locations in each district this summer. We hope to have 300 to 400 people trained this year. With more than 900 team members in more than 100 locations, it will take two to three years to get all of our field staff through the training. Once that is done, we’ll start another round. We feel this training is essential to the safety of our people working on the road.”