Asphalt maintenance is one of the safest jobs you can get into, but that doesn't mean you can be sloppy when it comes to workplace safety. Although sealcoating is not as dangerous as the roofing or construction industry, it's still prudent to prioritize safety in the workplace.
Taking precautions, making sure that you and your employees wear PPEs, and having a contingency plan in case of accidents saves lives and limbs — not just your own but also your workers. You're also less liable to get sued for negligence or reckless endangerment.
So here are some of the things you need to make sure that every sealcoating job site is as safe as it gets.
Personal Protective Equipment
When we think of personal protective equipment or PPEs, we usually think of doctors covered from head to foot in hazmat suits or firefighters in their turnout gear.
But it's different when it comes to sealcoating. We typically see sealcoaters wearing simple short-sleeved tees and a pair of blue jeans.
Some workers don't even bother wearing work boots and just don a pair of regular sneakers. If it weren't for the company logo printed on their shirts (if the company has a budget for that), you wouldn't even know that they are working for a sealcoating company.
The bad news is sealcoating, as a job, also poses unique risks to workers. The chances of accidents happening are relatively small compared to other jobs but it's there. So what are the personal protective equipment you need to ensure that your workers are safe?
Coveralls or Long-Sleeved Shirts and Long Pants
Before anything else, invest in good and durable coveralls for you and your crew. This piece of clothing is important if you're handling hot pour rubberized crack filler and coal tar sealer. Melted hot pour rubber crack filler can cause burns while coal tar sealer can sometimes cause skin irritation, so you must wear full-body coverage every time you handle these supplies.
When choosing coveralls, it's best to get black, dark gray, or navy ones to prevent the stains from becoming too obvious. Make sure that the fabric and fit are comfortable for you and your crew as you're going to wear them all day.
What makes coveralls great is that you can use them for improving your company's brand identity and they can make your crew look professional. Have your company logo and contact number printed on the back of the coveralls to get a better first impression from your customers.
But if you can't afford coveralls just yet, then it's best to provide your crew with long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect them from burns, skin irritation, and other injuries in the workplace.
Plenty of accidents happen because one worker failed to see his colleague even in broad daylight. Make sure that your crew members can easily see each other by requiring them to wear high-visibility safety vests.
You'll be on your feet for eight hours or more every day, so it's essential to get yourself the best pair of asphalt boots or shoes. And while the possibility of a colleague running over your foot while driving is relatively small, it can happen so it's best to be prepared.
A great pair of asphalt boots are designed to protect your feet from hot substances and toxic chemicals. Some even have durable outsoles that prevent you from slipping, as well as steel safety toe caps in case you drop a heavy tool on your toes.
When looking for a pair of asphalt boots or work shoes, look for ones that have slip-resistant outsoles that can withstand high temperatures. Make sure that the upper is made of water- and chemical-proof material to protect your feet from spills and burns.
Safety Glasses and Goggles
Around 2,000 workers in the U.S. sustain eye injury every day, so we can't stress how important it is for you to wear safety eyewear while at work.
While working, make sure to wear safety glasses to prevent the sealcoat from splashing into your eyes. A pair of durable sunglasses will also do to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays.
We also recommend that you wear safety goggles or safety glasses when using a gas-powered leaf blower or crack cleaning equipment to protect your eyes from dust and other debris.
A pair of gloves is another must-have personal protective equipment. Ordinary work gloves with nitrile-coated palms are fine as long as you're only sealcoating for the day. But if you're planning to do some crack repairs or you're handling hot equipment, then make sure you get some heavy-duty heat-resistant gloves.
Workplace Safety Checklist
Apart from sealcoating supplies and equipment, a complete first-aid kit is one of the things that should always be in your company truck.
You never know when a fire's going to break out, so it's always wise to bring a fire extinguisher with you whenever you work.
Eye Wash Kit
An eye flush kit is another must-have for asphalt maintenance workers. Portable eyewash kits can be easily purchased online or from your local pharmacy.
We always recommend wearing gloves each time you handle sealcoat or crack fillers as they are hard to remove once they stick to the skin. But in case you had sealcoat splatter on your skin or you accidentally touched liquid crack filler, then use a special hand cleaner to remove traces of sealcoating or crack filler from your skin.
We hope that you've found this sealcoating and crack repair safety checklist helpful. If you want to learn more about our products or have a question about building your own asphalt maintenance business, then don't hesitate to give us a call at 1-866-399-5562 or send us a message here at the Asphalt Kingdom website.