Our work takes us through a large variety of road conditions. From sandy soil, to muddy dirt roads full of ruts to rocky hills, it’s very rare that our work happens on a paved road. In fact, on any given day, we may encounter all of these types of driving surfaces. The problem is that with each of these types of surfaces comes new hazards and precautions that must be considered.
Sandy soils, especially during drier weather, have a tendency to shift when weight is applied. At any time the sand could shift and your vehicle could slide uncontrolably into surrounding objects.
When driving on a slope, consider changes in soil composition or moisture. At any time the surface you’re driving on could give way causing your vehicle to slide and/or roll over.
Muddy surfaces should be approached with caution as well. Many times we take on muddy roads as a challenge. Instead, precautions should be taken. If you’re following a vehicle, leave enough distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you to ensure that you have more visibility of the road and can see mud holes. If you’re driving too close behind another vehicle at a slower speed, you’re more likely to get stuck. Also, if your truck manages to get stuck, it’s better to build up a surface underneath the tire initially instead of digging a deeper hole with your tires and then trying.
Take into consideration the type of vehicle you are driving. If you’re in a truck with a full spray tank, remember that the back end of the vehicle is heavier than the front and could pull the truck downhill. If operating a tractor or skidder, consider that the vehicle is taller than it is wide, making the vehicle more top-heavy and capable of turning over.
If you’re entering a work zone that you haven’t previously worked in, take time to assess the area to take note of the environment. Are their any inclines to consider? Does the soil composition change? Is the ground saturated or full of puddles due to a previous rain? Include this information in your daily JSA so that all crew members will consider the potential hazards. Also, if the crew is large enough, it may help to have someone walk the work area prior to entering with vehicles.