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Mobile LiDAR Improves Safety By Reducing Need for Work Zones

Transportation surveyors are frequently exposed to significant danger from traffic as they work to collect the asset data required to maintain, build, or repair infrastructure.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that transportation incidents accounted for 76% of roadway work zone fatal occupational injuries between 2011 and 2017. In 60% of these transportation events, the worker was struck by a vehicle in the work zone.

Clearly, roadway operations and maintenance require a safer, accurate, and efficient way to collect infrastructure asset data.

Reducing Traffic Exposure with Mobile LiDAR

A Mobile LiDAR scanning system is the efficient way to inventory transportation assets and their condition at highway speed, eliminating the need for a static work zone that impedes traffic flow as surveying staff conduct their work. Instead, Mobile LiDAR collects data from a vehicle driven at posted speed limits and creates a digital 3-D representation of existing road conditions within the right-of-way.

Mobile LiDAR scans the conditions of infrastructure assets like pavements, guardrails, mowing acreages, bridges, highway signs, and more. Mobile LiDAR takes transportation asset management to the next level, collecting massive amounts of data with speed, precision, and cost-efficiency. Complete surveys in a fraction of the time it takes with traditional survey methods and yield higher quality data for optimal operations and maintenance plans.

Advantages of Mobile LiDAR

  • Easily identify the location of all your transportation assets.
  • Gather robust data while mitigating exposure to dangerous working conditions for employees.
  • Avoid the extra cost and man-hours that come with work zones.
  • Reduced exposure to road accidents and other roadway related injuries.
  • Advanced collection methods ensure accurate asset data and rapid data extraction.
  • Integrate asset data with existing databases and workflows.

Minimize Employee Risk and Maximize Productivity With PILLAR

With advances in surveying technology, the transportation industry is investing in innovative asset management solutions to improve operational efficiencies, optimize budgets, and ensure employee safety in the field.  

As a transportation asset management firm, PILLAR houses advanced technological solutions like Mobile LiDAR, drone aerial collection, street level imagery, and geospatial inventory to locate your assets and identify their condition. Our robust approach to asset management merges technology with specialist expertise to optimize, develop, and execute tailored asset management plans to secure O&M funding and improve the service level of all infrastructure assets.

Partner with PILLAR today and discuss with our experts to figure out the best way to augment your staff safely, reduce traffic interference in your communities, and collect transportation asset data quicker and more accurately than ever before.  

Contact us at info@pillaroma.com or (276) 223-0500 to discuss our Mobile LiDAR solutions and more.

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Save Lives

Drive Safe, Work Safe, Save Lives

National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week is April 26 – 30

National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 26-30, is a timely reminder for motorists to stay alert for DOT and other workers. In 2020, work zone crashes and fatalities increased, despite lower traffic volumes due to COVID-19.

Distracted Driving Costs Lives

Even a small mistake by a driver or worker can be disastrous in and around a highway work zone. Highway workers are in a high-risk category, but statistically, motorists are even more at risk. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), most fatalities in work zones are motorists, not highway workers. The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse – which collects federal data – reported that in 2019, there were over 760 work zone fatal crashes that resulted in 842 deaths.

National Efforts to Increase Work Zone Safety

To combat this significant public safety issue, 48 states have banned text messaging for all drivers, while 25 states, including Virginia, prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. Using a handheld cell phone while driving, and especially in a work zone, can be a deadly choice.

Defensive Driving Tips for Work Zones

  1. Stay focused and alert in a work zone: DO NOT use a cell phone, change the radio, eat, apply makeup, or create a distraction from the road.
  2. Research your route. When possible, try to avoid work zones altogether and use detours when available. 
  3. Lane closures and reduced speeds are common in work zones. Slow down when entering a work zone and pay careful attention to the presence of workers and machinery.
  4. Move into an open lane as soon as possible when approaching a lane closure. Remember to pay close attention to other vehicles around you, particularly in your blind spot.
  5. Avoid trucks of all types when possible. They usually have limited visibility and cannot maneuver as well as smaller vehicles. Give them a lot of room in all driving situations.
  6. Because rear-end crashes are the most common types of collision in work zones, always maintain extra following distance between vehicles. Four seconds is the recommended following distance.
  7. Turn on your headlights, even if it is not required by law. It is good ‘driving practice’. Headlights ‘on’ is the equivalent of wearing a high visibility vest on your vehicle. This helps other drivers identify your presence.

Be Alert. Risks Abound Outside Work Zones

The risks and challenges associated with highway travel are not confined to defined work zones. There are numerous other activities on a road that can easily create impairment to safe travel, such as mowing, litter pick up, snow & ice control, law enforcement activity, animal hazard, standing water, pavement defect (i.e., pothole), etc.

While work zones are usually well marked with signage and devices, most of these other impairments offer minimal advance warning to motorists. The combination of ‘Boots on the Ground’ (that would be Pillar!), a distracted or impaired driver, failure to reduce speed or any of the other risks noted above can prove to be costly, if not deadly, if you aren’t paying attention.

When transiting work zones, remember to be patient and stay focused.

PILLAR employees and other work zone crew members across the nation diligently strive to improve our infrastructure and make the roads safer for everyone. Join PILLAR next week as we raise awareness for work zone safety.

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PILLAR Talk Save Face Save Lives Save Money Save Time

TRANSPORTATION ASSET MANAGEMENT: A VITAL TOOL IN COMMUNITY RESILIENCY EFFORTS

In recent years, local municipalities and the federal government have invested millions to make their cities more resilient and prepare for natural disasters, along with mitigating the imposing threats of climate change. Local and federal governments are realizing the critical role transportation infrastructure plays in assisting in disaster and climate adaption efforts and are searching for ways to increase community resilience, improve aging infrastructure, and decrease flood risks with transportation asset management.

Investing in Resilience and Sustainability

In 2017, the City of Miami passed a $400 million general obligation bond, with half of the investment funding community resilience, disaster, and climate relief efforts. This includes reducing flooding risks, mitigating rising sea levels, enhancing public safety, and improving infrastructure. As of March 2021, there are 7 on-going projects in the city to assess transportation assets and improve infrastructure.

In February 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded a $1.1 million grant to the Miami Conversancy District in Dayton, Ohio to protect communities from flooding and upgrade Dayton’s levee system. The grant is matched with a $276,254 local investment, all focused on supporting key infrastructure improvements in the Miami Valley.

Challenges of Resiliency Planning and Disaster Management

From mitigating flooded roadways to effectively planning emergency routes, community resiliency plans start with a comprehensive and accurate assessment of all transportation assets, including pavement condition, stormwater management systems, bridges, tunnels, signage, medians, and guardrails—just to name a few. 

A significant challenge for most asset management and disaster prevention systems is the lack of a reliable infrastructure asset collection, leading to delays in response time. In terms of the cost to human lives and properties, delays can be hazardous for disaster management agencies. A robust asset management and analysis system is required to ensure that the asset condition is properly assessed, so accurate insights for improving the asset are found.  

With lives at stake, effective transportation asset management requires industry expertise and next generation technology to make informed decisions based on data.

PILLAR’s Mobile LiDAR collects massive amounts of data with speed, precision, and cost-efficiency. This system helps us complete surveys in a fraction of the time compared to traditional survey methods. As a result, higher quality data is collected to develop effective emergency response and community resiliency plans and secure appropriate budgets for repair and ongoing maintenance.

With Mobile LiDAR’s fully Automatic Feature Extraction System (AFES), data can be instantly extracted and integrated with existing databases – increasing efficiency, transparency, and better planning.

BE PREPARED WITH PILLAR

Municipalities across the nation are using transportation asset management data to better prepare and protect their communities against natural disasters and the imposing threats of climate change. This is where PILLAR comes in. Equipped with the best asset management experts and advanced technology, PILLAR efficiently collects transportation asset data, accurately assess asset conditions, develops, and executes asset management plans to maintain and optimize their performance against climate change and natural disasters.

As a transportation asset management firm, we help organizations save time, money, and face (by preventing public outcry in the case of a disaster). Partner with us today and help the communities that you serve be more resilient.

Contact us at info@pillaroma.com or (276) 223-0500 to discuss your asset management plans with a PILLAR expert.

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Save Lives

Work Zone Safety Week 2020 – In the Time of Covid-19

Despite the sharp drop in traffic volume, work zone activity does not relent. And it remains as dangerous as ever. Distracted or impaired drivers are still on the road. In our role as highway workers, the risk is clear and unmistakable.

We have tried to educate and inform our staff about these risks. Most of us have a distinct appreciation for the hazard. It starts with basic Defensive Driving and Defensive Positioning. When we are outside the vehicle in a highway setting, the risk is amplified exponentially. We know that a protective distance and position is our best defense when boots are on the ground.

Achieving this protection is easy to say, hard to practice. Each year there are triple digit fatalities in and around work zones of all types. They are uniformly preventable by workers and motorists.

Our society is basically suffering from two illnesses. The Covid Pandemic is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room right now. But it will recede eventually. The other illness is more insidious – poor driving skills by motorists, focused on all kinds of things, except Defensive Driving.

 This illness is going to be a lot harder to control. In the rather sterile parlance of the US DOT, the class of “Unprotected Highway Users” includes pedestrian, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and US. Highway work zone ‘boots on the ground.’ The statistics for this class of ‘highway users’ are heading north at an eye-popping rate.

Symptoms of this illness include: oversized vehicles, cheap gas, distractions, generous speed limits, and poor driving skills. The result is pretty hair-raising for a pedestrian. Most of whom are not exactly blameless in this picture: wearing dark clothing, looking at their cell phone, bikes encroaching into travel lanes, etc. The end result is not good.

In summary, we know what the cure for this illness is. Defensive driving, high-visibility apparel, defensive positioning, focused attention on the driving equation, and a few other situational survival skills. Boring as they are, that’s the medicine. We can beat the Covid. That’s already in the works. The other illness is going to a lot harder to treat.

This week we remember the Highway Workers who sacrificed their lives in the interest of keeping roads safe. Their memory should inspire us to practice safety skills in all walks of life.

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O&M IS Critical Infrastructure

During these times of uncertainty, we have all heard the call from our respective Governors about “critical industries” such as healthcare and first responders. Our infrastructure is also “critical”. As for Maintenance: Rust doesn’t stop, potholes still form, debris doesn’t stop building up, trash and debris continues to accrue. As for Operations: the trucks, busses and automobiles that keep it all moving are still out there. Motorists will need our help, meaning the Safety Service Patrol (or whatever it is called in your state) must continue – all while maintaining our “social distancing”. Electronic tolling is increased, as most states have removed human toll takers due to the obvious concerns with viral transmission.

We have noticed that while automobile traffic has subsided, truck traffic is still present, if not increasing. Our clients have seen this lower traffic volume overall and decided to take advantage of the lower traffic volumes by INCREASING the amount of preventive maintenance by extending or lifting lane closure restrictions.

While future state budgets will undoubtedly be affected, we must continue to maintain our assets, even during an impending budget crunch. If not, as we have seen time and again, the cost to play catch up will be multiple times the cost of doing it right while we can.

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Pillar Partners With Rose-Hulman Ventures

Rose-Hulman Ventures recently featured PILLAR and reviewed our patented salinity measurement device, SAM. PILLAR President Mark Boenke, shares his expertise on how SAM will reduce harmful salt usage on public roads and highways. Boenke partnered with Rose-Hulman Ventures back in 2017 when PILLAR was trying to find the best materials to use for the SAM device that would not be damaged by the highly corrosive saltwater. SAM was first developed by Mark’s daughter, Bridget, as her high school senior year science fair project!

SAM is a salinity measurement device that reads the salt concentration, via electrical conductivity, in the water spraying off of the salt spreader’s back tire. If the salt concentration levels are too low to prevent the forming of black ice, the driver is notified to apply more salt. If concentration levels are adequate, the driver is notified that no additional salt is needed.

PILLAR hopes to bring SAM to the market by 2021. Be sure to check back in for updates on SAM’s release and all of PILLAR’s projects!

Read the full article.

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Keep Control of the “Fatal Four” At Your Jobsite

John Meola, PILLAR’s Safety Director was recently published in Construction Business Owner Magazine providing insight on the fatal four dangers that plague your job sites & how to avoid them.

Read the full article here.

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Top 10 Ways of Safely Getting Through The Day (and Life)

It’s as tough of a job as it is an important one – each year the National Safety Council tries to make a dent in the collective consciousness of America by celebrating “Safety Awareness Week.”

Because safety is often forgotten until we wish we remembered it, we should applaud this effort and practice a constant focus on safety in all aspects of daily living.

Consider the following top 10 list of ways you can help protect you, your family and others.

  1. Put the phone down: Does it seem like a good idea to be watching funny Facebook videos while driving 65 mph down the highway? No? Then you probably shouldn’t do it – it may even keep you from becoming a hood ornament. Call us old fashioned, but we even like to go up and down the stairs or cross the street while keeping our eyes looking at where our feet are taking us.
  2. Get noticed: Wear a high-visibility garment or article of bright color when you’ll be in close proximity of moving vehicles or machinery. This means you, pedestrians, joggers, dog walkers, or parents pushing strollers. Make it difficult for motorists to NOT see you. At least give your family estate attorney the leverage to say, “How could you not see them? They were wearing an outrageously bright safety vest!”
  3. Watch your step: The “slip & fall” accident category is the number-one cause of insurance claims around the world. Walking and using stairs properly are not automatic – concentrate while on the attic stairs, front stoop, driveway, and sidewalk.
  4. Sleight of hand: We work with our hands, so it’s no surprise hand and finger injuries are so common both on and off the job site. Safety authorities have issued rules for workers to use proper gloves, but the average Joe is not included in these requirements. Be aware of where you stick your hands and make sure the kids don’t play with doors or objects such as hinges, linkages, bicycle chains, etc. Even seemingly mundane acts can be dangerous. An ER doctor in San Diego wrote a book about safety – his worst hand offense was putting stuff in the dishwasher. Take no act for granted when it comes to safety.
  5. The eyes have it: Another common avoidable incident is eye and face injuries from foreign objects, such as hammering a nail, etc. Even a pair of reading glasses or sunglasses are helpful should a stick come flying at your face while mowing the lawn. A pair of impact-resistant, safety-rated, wraparound glasses – costing about $3 – can save you a lot of misery. It’s a small investment to not ruin your eyesight. Avoid the overuse of tinted lenses in low light conditions.
  6. Drive defensively: You can’t control what other people are doing in their vehicles, but you can make sure you’re paying attention to their poor driving. Use seat belts. Don’t be distracted. Leave at least four seconds of distance between you and the car in front of you. Use extra caution on two-lane, undivided highways – they’re at the top of the car crash food chain. Pay attention at intersections, not assuming that Mr. or Mrs. Jones is going to actually stop at that stop sign.
  7. DIY FYIs: “Do it yourself” efforts can potentially save you money, but they can also cost you your health and a trip to the emergency room. Whether we’re talking about projects in the yard or home, pay someone to do it if you don’t have the knowledge or skillset. You’ll feel better about spending money for a job well done than you will for a medical bill after a job went wrong.
  8. The calm after the storm: When storms hit, call the authorities rather than breaking out the chainsaw and trying to take care of it on your own. Trees down, electric lines, flooding, and other storm damages require homeowners to tread carefully and cautiously. Here’s a time to pick UP the phone rather than being a hero.
  9. OSHA Focus Four: The safety experts at Occupational Safety and Health Administration worked overtime to identify the top four fatal incidents: falls from heights; electrocution; struck by (practically anything); and caught in or between. The first two are fairly self-explanatory, while the second two are broader. Think of hazards in your driveway, highway work zones, mechanical pinch points, and using long-handled tools in low-clearance areas.
  10. Take a dip in safety: Precaution and common sense can make the difference between life and death around pools and bodies of water. The list includes proper supervision of children; avoiding alcohol; ensure life jackets are on watercraft; avoid being on or near water at night; make sure electrical appliances have a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI); and locking gates and fences around pools.

After a top 10 list of safety concerns, it may seem like life is too dangerous to enjoy safely. This is untrue, of course. All you have to do is pay attention to potential risks, starting from the moment your feet hit the floor beside the bed.

Have a great Safety Week as an introduction to a Safe Summer!

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Top 10 safety rules for the end of summer

John Meola, PILLAR’s Safety Director, penned an article for the Richmond Times-Dispatch discussing safety rules motorist should be aware of as summer comes to an end. 

Read the full article here.

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Safety Should Not Take Days Off of Work

The safety measures a company puts in place tend to be taken for granted. That is until an accident occurs and the issue is brought to the forefront.

June is National Safety Month, an initiative led by the National Safety Council (NSC) to ensure “No One Gets Hurt.” The month aims to reduce the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in homes and communities.

Each week of the month highlights a different aspect of safety: Week 1, emergency preparedness; Week 2, wellness; Week 3, falls; and Week 4, driving.

Prepare for the Unexpected

As news reports confirm, there are many types of emergencies we must be prepared to face in today’s workplace: active shooter situations, weather and natural disasters, terrorism incidents and medical emergencies, among others.

It’s critical for employees to be prepared to act according to your safety policies before, during and after such emergencies. Having plans in place and reviewing them with employees will help everyone get on the same page and minimize the risk of worst-case scenarios in an emergency.

Don’t Slip on Fall Prevention

Did you know that the third-leading cause of injury deaths is falls? According to the NSC, almost 32,000 people died from falls at home and work in 2014. In 2013, more than 47,000 workers were injured severely enough from falls that they required days off of work. Half of all fatal workplace falls were from 20 feet or lower, according to Injury Facts 2016®.

The good news is that falls are 100% preventable if proper safety procedures are implemented and followed. A couple of tips to keep in mind:

  • Ensure you and coworkers are properly trained on equipment.
  • Make certain stepladders have locking mechanism to hold front and back open.
  • At all times, keep either two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet on the ladder.
  • The ladder should be one foot from the surface it rests on for every four feet of height; it should also extend a minimum of three feet over the top edge.

Decrease Distracted Driving

The most proactively safe companies are going above and beyond state laws to ensure employees are not driving distracted on company time. Knowing you are four times more likely to crash when operating a cell phone, NSC maintains that any company serious about eliminating distracted driving accidents implement a cell phone ban on both hand-held and hands-free devices.

The NSC points to one Fortune 50 company with a simple phone-ban policy that covers all of the bases. It states that employees cannot use cell phones if an employee is doing any of the following:

  1. Driving a company car
  2. Operating a personal car on company business
  3. Driving on company property
  4. Using a company-supplied phone
  5. Using a personal phone for company business

Although June is designated as National Safety Month, it’s a reminder that safety procedures do not take vacations. Following safety protocol is of utmost importance to your business and its employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

PILLAR’s safety team offers innovative and cost-effective solutions for your organization’s unique needs, including job-related safety meetings, distance learning opportunities, safety records management and on-site training.

For more information on PILLAR’s safety program, contact us online or call 276.223.0500.