How to become a more productive highway construction worker

shutterstock_51526282“Work smarter, not harder.”

How many times have you seen that quote? Over time, the idea that your best performance is a result of how you work, not how long you work, has become widely accepted. Studies have shown that the last employee to leave each day isn’t necessarily the hardest worker; they may simply lack organizational skills or the ability to prioritize work. The most productive employees are the ones who are able to get real, meaningful work done during regular business hours, and then return home at a reasonable time to rest and recharge for the next day.

Of course, it’s easy to advise someone to get organized or polish up their delegating skills, but it’s much harder to achieve that dramatic of a change in work styles and management approaches. Also, not every business management tip will work for every person. If you’ve tried in the past to incorporate changes to the way you work with little success, try instead to incorporate lifestyle changes that will impact your overall well being – including those hours you’re on the job.

Boost sleep

How you sleep is the number one factor in how successfully you conduct your day. Lack of sleeps decrease your ability to pay attention and retain information, can cause psychological problems such as depression and interferes with your ability to create memories. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not functioning at your peak. Although the amount of sleep needed can vary from person to person, research indicates the majority of healthy adults require between 7 and 8 hours per night. According to the Mayo Clinic, even if you feel rested on less sleep, tests have shown that adults who sleep less than 7 hours per night do not perform as well on complex mental tasks than those who get a full night’s sleep. Sleep durations of 4 to 5 hours have proven to cause a negative neurological and physiological impact in laboratory tests.

So, make sleep a priority. Schedule it and treat it with the same importance as you would any other appointment. Ramp down in the evenings so that you are not engaged in stimulating physical or mental activity as you approach the time you need to go to bed. Create a comfortable and soothing environment that is conducive to restful sleep. Once you’re in the correct sleep pattern for your needs, you’ll find you’re more alert and productive during the day.

Improve cognitive function

As we spend more and more time in front of screens we increase the amount of time we spend in sedentary, passive activities, and reduce the amount of time we spend interacting with others—an activity critical to retaining cognitive function. According to Psychology Today, you must “work out” both hemispheres of your cerebrum and cerebellum, which is something that simply cannot be done by staring at a tablet, smart phone or TV screen.

Disconnect as often as possible. Reduce the temptation to check your smart phone every few minutes, and connect with others in person whenever possible. Break up your routine by changing your habits and trying new things, especially with friends and acquaintances. New real-world experiences will help your brain stay sharp, which will boost both your decision-making abilities and your productivity.

Reduce stress

While it’s likely impossible to completely eliminate stress, just accepting it and trying to deal with it is not a workable solution. The negative impact of stress is well documented, and it’s more than worth trying to eliminate it wherever possible. Acute stress can cause or worsen a variety of serious illnesses such as heart disease, strokes and cancer, and at a minimum will impact your sleep, your cognitive performance and your psychological and emotional well being.

Determine what types of events or situations create the majority of the stress in your day. Pay attention to the things that really make you upset or angry, and then try to assess them objectively. Is what’s upsetting you really worth the harm it could cause? Can the situation be corrected? Once you isolate the stressor and analyze it a bit more calmly, you’ll find you deal with most situations rationally.

You can also incorporate ways to help you deal with stress. Not every stress-busting tip will work for every situation, but doing something pleasant like taking a walk or going for a cup of coffee with a friend will take the edge off your stress. Realize that although you’re confronted with a negative situation, there’s no need for it to occupy all your time and consume all your thoughts. Once you’re managing stress properly, you’ll improve your concentration and focus on other tasks.

This article was written by Amy Materson, Managing Editor of Equipment World.

SCDOT signs biggest road project contract in over a decade

385-JPGThe South Carolina Department of Transportation has signed its biggest contract for a state road project in more than a decade. SCDOT will use its $231 million contract to improve the interchange of Interstates 85 and 385 in Greenville to Flatiron-Zachry Joint Venture.

The project will be the state’s largest since 2001 when it spent $631 million on construction of the Ravenel Bridge linking Mount Pleasant and Charleston.

Although no start date has been set, the Greenville project will make life easier for drivers by eliminating tight loops that go from one interstate to the other and increase the number of lanes on I-385. Once construction begins, it will take roughly two years and 10 months to complete.

SCDOT reports the I-85 and I-385 interchange is the third busiest in South Carolina, serving an estimated 194,000 vehicles per day.

In 2011, South Carolina picked up American Transportation Award’s for road projects. With any luck, the state’s current project will get recognized as a success someday too.

Voting now open for 11th annual Faces of Transportation contest

or_001_fotThe American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has opened online voting for the eleventh annual Faces of Transportation photography contest.

Voters are invited to choose their favorite photograph from among 78 images being judged in three categories: “Quality of Life/Community Development,” “Historic Projects,” and “Taking the Road Less Traveled.” Each picture represents the positive effects of transportation on individuals and/or communities.

The photo receiving the highest number of votes will receive the People’s Choice Award, and a $500 cash prize will be awarded to the photographer.

The voting will run through Sept. 8, and winners will be announced on Sept. 29.

For more information and to cast your vote visit: http://www.facesoftransportation.org.

High school students developing designs to combat tired driving

shutterstock_191888066Calling all high school students! If you have a knack for art or just like creating artwork, now is the chance to help out a good cause and display your talents.

The Illinois Tollway, Blick Art Materials and CBRE, commercial real estate services and investment firm, has invited high school art students to participate in the 2015 Tollway Map Cover Art Contest.

The winning contest entry will appear on the cover of the 2015 Tollway map

Students are being sked to submit original works of art created to remind motorists of how tired, reckless drivers on Illinois roadways.

According to the call for entries, students may choose to focus on one or more of the following themes:

  • Effects of tired driving, which include decreased reaction time, blurry vision and poor judgment that can lead to unsafe driving.
  • Stay alert. Stay alive. Recognize the signs of fatigue and know when to stop and rest.
  • This is your wake-up call: tired driving kills. Highlight the deadly consequences of driving when you’re tired.

Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur says that in the past year, “tired, reckless drivers have killed at least six people in Illinois, including an Illinois Tollway worker.” Nationwide, driver fatigue results in about 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries each year, according to the Illinois Tollway Authority. Nearly 40 percent of adult drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel, according to the National Sleep Foundation

The Tollway Authority hopes that by increasing awareness, it will “keep tired drivers from getting behind the wheel and make our roadways safer for everyone.”

This is a good reminder. I’m guilty of driving while tired.

In fact, during my latest trip driving my two kids by myself from Central Pennsylvania back to the Chicago area, I noticed that I was having a hard time staying awake. My eyelids started feeling heavy, opening up the windows to get fresh air didn’t help, and I even started doing that shifting around in the driver’s thing to keep myself awake.

I realized at that point, it was unsafe for me to be on the road. I left the highway at the nearest exit and pulled off to a safe place to rest for a few minutes. I realized I was not only putting others at risk, but myself and the most precious people to me – my children.

Contest rules and all required entry forms are posted on the Tollway’s website at: IllinoisTollway.com. Art contest entries will be accepted beginning Sept. 2, 2014, and must be postmarked no later than Oct. 3, 2014.

BLOG_IL Tollway_Blick Art Materials_image001 (BLOG_High school students charged with creating artwork to combat fatigued driving story)

Artwork created by the grand prize winner will be featured on the cover of the Tollway’s 2015 map, which is distributed at no cost to more than 125,000 customers. Three runners-up will be featured in the Tollway’s annual report. Awards include the following:

·Grand prize winner: $400 gift certificate from Blick Art Materials and $200 in gift certificates from CBRE to use at oases retail shops and restaurants

·Runners-up: $200 gift certificate from Blick Art Materials and $100 in gift certificates from CBRE

·A certificate of appreciation for all students who participate in the contest

·Acknowledgment of winners at the Illinois Tollway Board of Directors meeting on Nov/ 20, 2014

Turn Around! FDOT seeking ways to alert wrong-way drivers

wrong waySince 2012 there have been four deaths resulting from drivers going the wrong way in Interstate 275 in Tampa. Since that’s four too many, the Florida Department of Transportation has began to look for new way to alert wrong-way drivers.

Kris Carson, spokesperson for the FDOT, has said her department has worked hard to notify wrong-way drivers, but thus far their methods have not worked. The department is now considering some new technology that might help drivers, and ultimately save lives.

“There a software they’re looking at that would notify our traffic management center, FHP (Florida Highway Patrol) right away and then there’s also signage that we’re looking at that have radar in them and they would start flashing or they would say wrong way,” Carson said.

It’s important to note that all of the wrong-way deaths that have occurred on the interstate involved drivers who were under the influence of either alcohol of drugs. Due to that fact, the FDOT has even flirted with the idea of tire spikes that would immobilize wrong-way drivers.

“That was also studied but they found that the spike strips can actually get trash underneath them and debris. They can also damage the cars going the correct way down the ramp so that was not found to be feasible,” said Carson.

With tire spikes ruled out, Carson’s department is waiting on approval from the Federal Highway Administration to begin testing flashing signs that will alert drivers when they’re going up the wrong way ramp.

Florida has always been creative when it comes to transportation safety. For example, South Florida uses illusions to slow down speeding drivers.

VIDEO: Semi hauling an excavator plows through a guardhouse while pulling onto college campus

Excavator destroys guardhouse

At Bellhaven University they’re referring to it as “the Guardhouse Incident.”

With construction having begun on a new on-campus apartment complex, a lot of big construction equipment is making its way onto Bellhaven’s small campus in Jackson, Mississippi. And, as you can see in the video below, a particular guardhouse at an entrance to the campus didn’t afford one hauler quite enough room to squeeze an excavator in.

Thankfully no one was inside or close enough to the small structure to be injured and the university has been able to laugh off the situation. Bellhaven posted the video on its Facebook page noting, “We have begun construction on the new University Village, but planning the project we knew that one of the tough challenges would be getting equipment into the center of campus.”

“This is the fast way to move the guard house out of the way,” the page read.

The best part of the video has to be the guy running up from behind to warn the driver before it’s too late. And the runner in the white T-shirt who witnesses the destruction’s reaction of “Nope” without losing stride is perfect. Watch below.

 This article was written by Wayne Grayson, Online Managing Editor of Equipment World.

Kansas to receive $1.2 billion for improvements

i-70-signThe Kansas Department of Transportation has announced a projected $1.2 billion improvement program for highways, bridge replacement and local projects throughout the state. The funds will create several short- and long-term highway and bridge construction jobs, with work expected to begin throughout 2015 and 2016.

The improvements are a continuing part of the 10-year T-Works project passed during the 2010 legislative session.

The largest projects include a $116 million expansion of the Interstate 235/US 54 Highway (Kellogg Ave.) interchange in west Wichita, and a $95 million expansion of Kellogg from Cypress to Wiedemann in east Wichita.

A handful of other projects are planned to take place as part of the $1.2 billion improvement program, including two major projects on Interstate 70 in western Kansas. $52.6 million will be used for 11.5 miles of improvements in Thomas County near the Logan County line; and $43.4 million for nine miles of improvement in Gove County near the Trego County line.

With all of the planned road construction, let’s hope workers follow safety guidelines to avoid serious injury.

How to avoid highway work zone injuries and deaths

dsc02136Serious injury and death is becoming an all-too-common occurrence for highway construction workers. Although workers aren’t always at fault, there are several preventable measures that can be taken to help reduce the risk of such a horrible and tragic accident.

Here are several steps that can be taken to help keep road crews safe:

Use temporary traffic control devices

You can never have too many signs, warning devices, paddles and concrete barriers throughout a work zone. If you’re not sure you have enough, add a couple more. What can it hurt? It’s also important to keep all signage clean to maintain its reflective intensity and visibility.

Communicate with motorists

Communicate with motorists before and during road construction.It’s important to communicate with motorists before and during road construction. Give drivers advance warning of upcoming work zones, and install warning signs with estimated time of delay, and other road closure information. Continue to update warning signs as conditions change.

Highly visible apparel

All highway construction workers should be required to wear highly visible safety apparel. It’s important that workers stand out and can be seen by anyone who may be driving in the area. Fluorescent and reflective materials should be used if possible.

Illuminate the work zone

Install enough lighting for the workspace, but be careful to reduce glare so workers and passing motorists are not blinded. If possible, use glare-free light balloons and glare screens.

Work site coordination 

Make supervisors responsible for documenting hazards, and quickly finding solutions.Try not to assign collateral duties that end up distracting workers from their personal safety responsibilities. It’s also a good idea to make supervisors responsible for documenting hazards, and quickly finding solutions.

Safe equipment operation 

It’s always a good idea to keep workers on foot away from areas where heavy equipment is being used. Train equipment operators and workers on foot how to appropriate communicate. Be sure equipment operators never move equipment when workers on foot are near.

Safety First!

When it comes to safety, you can never be too careful. It’s important to always use common sense at a work site. Always double, and triple check, before doing something that poses an injury risk. If it doesn’t seem safe, DON’T do it. Take a step back and figure out how to make it safer.

It’s better to be cautious than quick. If you feel a work zone is unsafe, and don’t know how to make it safer, contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Elderly woman destroys newly poured road

car in concrete 3_jpg_475x310_q85-2

An elderly woman caused $10,000 worth of damage when she drove through 50 feet of newly poured cement in the 25th Street construction zone in Fargo, North Dakota.

The 78-year-old woman was southbound when she got confused by road signs, took a wrong turn and ended up in cement that had just been poured. Her car sunk into about a foot of the wet cement before grinding to a halt.

The damaged concrete had to be replaced.

WomanConcrete

Police say the elderly woman was on her way to a doctor’s appointment when the accident occurred. She was not cited.

Luckily the woman did not hit anyone, all road workers were safe, and she walked away unscathed as well.

Ohio expands bridge partnership program

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor unveils the Ohio Bridge Partnership Program.

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor unveils the Ohio Bridge Partnership Program.

Ohio’s Local Bridge Partnership Program is adding 10 bridges to its plan that provides $120 million to local governments to make transportation safer. The program is already  fixing or replacing 220 bridges in local communities throughout Ohio.

“This first-of-its-kind program is getting better because Gov. John Kasich and I value the state investments we are making in the infrastructure of our local communities,” said Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. “Ohio is in a better place today as we continue to focus on jobs and the economy, and transportation is critical to moving our state forward.”

The first bridge completely reconstructed as part of the new program opened up on Friday, Aug. 22, in in Meigs County. The project took just took just six weeks and $492,570 to complete.

The new bridges added to the program are:

1. Johnson Road over Bradford Creek in Madison County

2. Township Road 365 over Wills Creek in Guernsey County

3. Thayer Road over Dry Creek in Knox County

4. Wilmington Road over Gum Run in Warren County

5. Clay Pike over Little Salt Creek in Muskingum County

6. County Road 25C over Rock Riffle Run in Athens County

7. Millsboro West Road over a stream in Richland County

8. Blue Rock Road over Blue Rock Creek in Muskingum County

9. Sandbar Road over the Little Muskingum River in Monroe County

10. Remsen Road over a branch of the Rocky River in Medina County

Programs like this is the reason why some reports suggest Ohio’s bridges are better than the national average. However, Ohio has 44,000 bridges – the second-highest number in the nation behind Texas – which means there are still plenty of bridges in need of repair.

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