Safety is the highest priority on construction jobsites, but not all equipment helps attain safety goals. In 2020, more than 174,100 injuries and 124 deaths occurred on construction sites in the United States. Unfortunately, those statistics only encompass reported cases. Many jobsite accidents and near misses — with potentially dire consequences — are never reported.
The United States Department of Transportation made a move toward improving safety with its initiative to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by 2050. The Moving to Zero movement, combined with skyrocketing insurance premiums, is prompting manufacturers to focus on innovative safety solutions.
Ride-on compaction equipment is a prime example of a potentially problematic design, especially on uneven or side-sloped surfaces. It is not uncommon for road construction crews to witness a silent rollover, watching their crewmember jump to safety when the equipment they are operating unexpectedly gives way to gravity while compacting a steep slope.
To combat these issues, Road Widener created a safer alternative that ensures operators remain safe on flat ground during compaction, all through the form of an attachment.
The safety is in the design
This new approach to compaction is achieved by relocating the drum to a remote-controlled offset arm that can be attached to almost any grader, compact track loader, wheel loader or skid steer — immediately solving the safety issue. With its offset position, the roller drum pivots up to 30 degrees and reaches 30 inches below the mounting point. The host machine stays on flat ground while the attachment extends to the edges of road shoulders and ditches. The attachment safely compacts slopes at angles that would flip a traditional compaction machine.
The increased safety of the offset roller attachment reduces workers’ comp claims, lowers insurance premiums and enhances safety ratings.
Maximum capabilities in a compact package
Although safety is the top priority on any jobsite, the efficiency and quality of a job along with equipment versatility also prove critical. With the high infrastructure demand and scarce, inexperienced workforce, ease of equipment use is key to a project’s overall efficiency. Some offset compaction attachments incorporate remote controls, combining safety with an intuitive operation that is easy to learn, and allows the operator to adjust the height, angle, extension and compaction adjustments all from the comfort of the host machine’s cab. Additionally, compaction roller attachments can be purchased in a variety of interchangeable drum widths, ranging from two to four feet, providing heightened adaptability.
While a compaction roller attachment may not achieve density as quickly as a ride-on roller on a flat roadway, it excels in a sloping ditch or trench which places an operator in a hazardous position. Because of the rigid design of traditional compaction rollers and the stability issues working on a slope, operators tend to drive at a slower rate, resulting in a slower compaction rate. Alternatively, the offset compaction roller attachment allows an average vibratory density of 106.5 pounds per cubic foot in just one pass on a typical gravel shoulder.
Efficiency is not only seen through the work on the job but also by reduced transportation challenges. The compact design of compaction attachments allows it to fit on any common trailer along with the host machine and be towed by a standard pickup truck.
A federal stamp of approval
The safety and productivity benefits of compaction roller attachments are powerful, and the data that demonstrates the impact they bring to the industry speaks volumes.
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation conducted a study to measure the effectiveness of Road Widener’s Offset Vibratory Roller attachment connected to a wheeled skid steer versus the traditional steel drum and rubber-tired rollers used by NHDOT contractors. The study examined the density of gravel compaction on a road shoulder to determine which method of compaction would yield the most consistent results in terms of gravel density, ensuring a longer wear life of the road shoulder. NHDOT recognized that longer wear life would result in saving thousands of dollars for the state that could be reallocated to other areas to improve infrastructure.
Previously, NHDOT contractors primarily used self-propelled rollers in static mode to prevent the risk of rollovers or sliding into ditches. To prove the effectiveness of the study, the self-propelled rollers were utilized in both static and vibratory modes to accurately compare with the offset compaction roller attachment, which was only capable of operating with vibration.
For this compaction testing, the material was placed two ways for each roller, first being approximately a half-inch higher than the existing pavement prior to compaction, and second, the material was placed flush with the existing pavement.
The results of the study showed that the offset compaction roller attachment had almost equal compaction when tested against the two other rollers that were eight to 22 times greater in weight. Additionally, the variance of the attachment was the least out of the three.
Overall, the roller attachment provided more consistent density and flexibility with its offset arm, eliminating the risk of injury.
Moving to safety
In a world where so many elements are outside of our control — the supply chain, the price of fuel, inflationary costs and more — it is more critical than ever that contractors control risk and costs wherever they can. And their equipment investment is a great place
By carefully evaluating equipment selection and choosing options that maximize the capabilities of their current fleet, contractors will see an increase in the efficiency and profitability of their business while providing unparalleled safety for their crew.
About the Author
Lynn Marsh is the president of Road Widener LLC and has 20 years of experience in the road construction industry.
About Road Widener LLC
Road Widener LLC puts more than 30 years of construction experience to work manufacturing innovative road and utility construction equipment. Founded by two construction professionals, Road Widener is equipped with the industry know-how to provide the solutions contractors need to increase productivity and safety on the jobsite. For more information:
Road Widener LLC, 514 Wells Street, Suite 1-W, Delafield, WI 53108 Call 844-494-3363; www.roadwidenerllc.com