Attenuator trucks are highway safety vehicles equipped with an impact attenuating crash cushion for the purpose of reducing the risks resulting from crashes in construction work zones. These specialized vehicles are often required for government highway contracts to improve safety and reduce work zone fatalities.
The truck mounted attenuator, or TMA, is a crash cushion that is specifically designed to attach to a vehicle such as a snow plow, road construction vehicle or maintenance truck, in order to absorb kinetic energy if struck by a motorist. Not only do attenuator trucks save lives by absorbing the impact of a crash, they also reduce debris hazards after impact to improve traffic flow and reduce the risk to passing motorists.
TMAs are tested by the federal highway association for effectiveness and speed ratings. When mounted to road construction vehicles, TMA attenuators are subject to weight requirements and must be positioned at adequate distance to ensure the safety of workers and equipment in the event of a crash.
Attenuator Truck Equipment and Options
There are various types of truck mounted attenuators including tiltable or foldable options and trailer mounted attenuators. Tiltable options such as Trinity Industries’ MPS-350 are designed so that the attenuator will pivot up or down to engage or disengage the attenuating crash cushion. Foldable options such as the Safe Stop 180 will fold in half so that the attenuator is stacked on itself when disengaged. Trailer mounted varieties do not pivot or tilt and are always engaged when attached to a truck.
Road construction attenuator trucks typically have a bed for transporting equipment and an arrowboard or message board to instruct drivers of traffic conditions. Many other equipment options may be necessitated by the environment and conditions including strobe lighting for driver awareness, work lights for night visibility, and equipment racks.
Safety & Numbers blog sponsor Innovative Access Solutions, LLC produces portable flatbed truck access platforms for fall protection safety. The IAS platform is a new and innovative approach compared to other available flatbed fall protection options. With this in mind we are happy to help promote and review the advantages of a lightweight, portable platform as compared to bulky traditional wheeled systems.
Advantages of a Portable Flatbed Access Platform
As mentioned above, the IAS flatbed access platform is an innovative approach to fall protection for loading/unloading, tarping, and maneuvering around flatbed trailers. The platform is composed of lightweight aluminum and equipped with CNC billet mounting hooks, making it ideal for fall protection at offsite locations, on stationary trailers, and where space is limited or time is of the essence. The IAS flatbed access platform is ANSI rated to 3 man / 3,000 lbs making it versatile and durable. IAS platforms also provide a safety rail that is easily removable for convenient stow away and mobility. The IAS flatbed access platform is standard at lengths of 4′ and 8′ and can be customized to meet specialized requirements.
Compared to Traditional Flatbed Platform Systems
The majority of available flatbed access platform systems are wheeled or rolling platforms. These systems are ideal in certain applications. Truck fleets with high shipping volume, available space at their facility, and a sizable work force will appreciate the traditional wheeled flatbed access platform system. These systems typically provide space for a truck trailer to pull in between two parallel platforms which sandwich together on each side of the trailer deck. Traditional systems are generally expensive and less flexible.
Choosing the Best Fall Protection Option
When deciding on the best fall protection flatbed access platform for your company’s needs, we recommend considering available capital/workforce, the importance of mobility, and whether a bulky wheeled system will suit your needs. The IAS flatbed access platform is mobile and portable, preventing the need to have a system consuming space at each site. Being lightweight and modular, it is also easier to mount at any location and with fewer available workers. And the IAS flatbed access platform is ideal for specialized applications such as stationary flatbed trailers, contractor truck fleets, and industries including construction, mining and energy.
Whichever flatbed access platform you choose, always remember the importance of fall protection risk management even at limited heights. Investing in basic fall protection safety equipment such as a flatbed trailer work platform will ultimately save money and hardship in the long run when compared to workers comp claims, lost worker time, and indirect work injury costs.
Today marks the beginning of National Work Zone Awareness Week 2014. In an effort to reduce accidents, injuries and deaths in highway construction work zones, the American Traffic Safety Services Association designates a week at the beginning of the construction season each year to promote safety initiatives. National Work Zone Awareness week was initiated in 1999 and has been effective at improving the safety of motorists and workers while reducing work zone crashes. This year’s initiative kicks off today, April 7th, 2014, with events being hosted in Seattle, WA.
Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake
This year’s theme focuses on the dangers and risks of speeding through highway construction work zones. “In 2012, 609 workers and motorists were killed in highway work zones nationwide. Approximately 85 percent of those killed in work zones are drivers and their passengers.” Surely speeding played a role in a significant percentage of these accidents.
Events and Information
The National Work Zone Awareness Week 2014 kickoff event will be held on April 8, 2014 at 10 AM in Seattle Washington. The event is hosted on State Route 99 at the Alaska Way Viaduct Replacement Program project. For more information, visit the following websites.
The 2014 fiscal year marks the completion of MAP 21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. The act provides funding for surface transportation programs and has been a landmark achievement for improvements in infrastructure and safety in the United States.
The Federal Highway Administration published an update to the status of MAP 21 activities in October in preparation for the coming year. MAP 21 is set to end in September 2014. The following summary highlights the achievements of the program, with respect to topics relevant to highway construction, the trucking industry, and work zone safety.
National Highway Performance Program
Surface Transportation Program
Emergency Relief Program
Appalachian Development Highway System
Territorial and Puerto Rico Highways
Guidance on infrastructure topics:
National Highway System design standards
Construction management/general contractor contracting method
Buy America (including impact on utility relocations)
Stewardship and oversight
Collection of element-level bridge data
Interstate access justifications
Strategy, schedule, and outreach on performance management
Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking on National Tunnel Inspection Standards
Guidance and notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on value engineering
Guidance on safety programs and related topics:
Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) eligibility and reporting
Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP)
High Risk Rural Roads
State safety data systems
Penalty transfer provisions
Older road users
Process for development of National Freight Network
Guidance on freight-related topics:
Higher Federal share for freight projects
State freight advisory committees and plans
Guidance and best practices re: special permits in emergencies
National Work Zone Awareness week is wrapping up today after five day of events and outreach initiatives to spread the word about an important work safety agenda. Work Zone Safety refers to construction and maintenance on highways and roads, encompassing a wide range of individuals, from pedestrians and drivers to road workers, municipal employees and law enforcement.
Work Zone Safety: “We’re All In This Together”
National Work Zone Awareness Week is a collaboration between the Federal Highway Administration and ATSSA with support from organizations including Associated General Contractors and WorkZoneSafety.org, to bring awareness to the risks involved in highway work zones. In 2010, 576 workers and motorists were killed in highway work zones, a marked improvement over a 10 year period as informed drivers and state awareness programs are helping to increase safety. With road construction beginning to ramp up after the winter months, National Work Zone Awareness Week serves to remind us of the importance of caution when traveling through work zones.
Work Zone Construction Safety: An Important Agenda
National Work Zone Awareness Week was initiated in 1999 and has coincided with a reduction in work zone crashes and fatalities each year since 2002. While there is always room for additional construction safety measures and caution in work zones, statistics support the effectiveness and importance of the campaign.
Crashes in work zones caused 720 fatalities in 2008, a 39 percent decrease from 2002, when 1,186 work zone fatalities occurred
In 2010, 576 workers and motorists were killed in highway work zones
Approximately 85% of work zone fatalities are drivers and their passengers
18%of work zone crashes injure construction workers, and 8% cause fatal injury
38% of highway contractors had motor vehicles crash into their construction work zones during the past year
45% of all work zone fatalities for 2010 were 35 years old or younger
Highway Safety Equipment and Work Zone Safety Initiatives
Since National Work Zone Awareness Week kicked off in 1999, innovation and technological developments have helped to manage injury risk associated with automobile crashes in highway work zones. Manufacturers such as Trinity Highway Products and Energy Absorption Systems produce highway crash cushions, crash rated traffic barrier, and shadow vehicle attenuator trucks to absorb and manage collision impacts. Highway safety equipment contractors such as Site-Safe Products specialize in work zone safety on highways across the country.
But the most important initiative for accident prevention is driver awareness. Products such as RoadQuake Rumble Strips help to alert drivers when workers are present. Always be mindful of work zone signage, put away any distracting devices, slow down, and observe posted speed limits when workers are present.
As National Work Zone Awareness Week reminds us, highway safety will help protect not only your family, but also the families of construction workers and municipal representatives operating in work zones.