Safety: Reflective Tune-Up

Reflectives are not something that most operators give a whole lot of thought to, however, properly implemented they can enhance the safety of your crews, the public and your valuable trucks.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) reported that 2017 saw an 18 percent increase in fatalities compared to 2016. In 2017, there were 132 recorded fatalities, 94 of which were members of the public and 38, workers on the job. Of course, these are just the fatalities; now add the many thousands of non-fatal yet damaging accidents and it highlights why every operator needs to be focused on safety.

An environmental contributor to the large number of accidents is that refuse trucks are often operating in pre-dawn or evening hours, where visibility is an issue. This is where reflectives can help. They are not a large investment typically about $500 to $750 per truck and, if done correctly, can dramatically enhance the visibility of your trucks.

Typically, truck manufacturers install the DOT required conspicuity tape at the factory and, if requested, a 6′ caution sticker, maybe glass bead reflective.

Planning for Safety
Safety does not just happen it requires planning and careful implementation to maximize the positive impact and corresponding enhancement in safety. There are any number of opportunities which can enhance your safety program’s effectiveness, some of which are discussed below.

All Reflectives Are Not the Same
There are two types which you will have the ability to use and within each type there is no doubt some are better than others:
• Glass Bead Reflectives—The most common are visible up to about 500′, significantly less if raining.
• Prismatic Reflectives—Think high quality conspicuity tape, visible up to 1,800′ with minimal degradation in the rain.

Both are great products, but have some different capabilities; however, due to recent advances in technology and materials we can use the prismatic reflectives in more places than where possible one year ago. We can now print complex patterns and shapes on prismatic reflectives doing more than simple chevrons.

Disrupt the Environment
When designing reflective warning decals, be conscious that they have two jobs to do, by day and by night. For daytime it is best to use extremely vibrant colors, in patterns designed to disrupt the environment in the line of sight of the viewer. By night, all of the above applies; however, the other important factor is selecting the brightest reflective available for the location:
• So Much More than Conspicuity: Large rear caution decals for FELs and ASLs are impactful decals for rear loaders and side guard decals to start with. All of these are now possible with prismatic. A new opportunity is on the horizon for most operators, Truck Side Guard protection. This important enhancement to trucks will save scores of lives and is becoming a requirement in major cities, like NYC. These barriers are also the perfect opportunity to expand your reflective foot print and enhance safety.
• Maximize Your Footprint: A great example is the standard rear caution decal on a refuse truck is 23″ x 72″ but the space universally allows 23″ x 86″, allowing a 16 percent larger decal.

Longevity
Finally, the advancements in technology allow not only expanded processing capabilities, but also in longevity. This is critical because we all understand that there is a major difference between Capex and maintenance budgets. The more you do on the front end to use the proper designs and materials the better off you will be. The last thing you want are poorly designed or manufactured reflectives not doing their job but without money in the budget to fix or maintain the problem. Instead look to implement your reflective projects with materials that will stand up to the harsh refuse environment. Planning for safety will maximize the effectiveness of your plan.

Originally published on Waste Advantage