MoDOT’s newest employees learn about dangerous job in a safe environment

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Transportation is putting its new employees through important training before sending them out on the highways.

The goal: make the workers, and drivers, safe on Missouri highways.

"I've had plenty of situations where we've jumped out of the way at the last moment," MoDOT Kansas City Safety and Health Manager Eric Ramsey said.

MoDOT is preparing its newest employees in its rigorous Maintenance Training Academy in Lee's Summit.

"The academy was designed to be a safe place where our workforce could learn to do a very dangerous job, but learn it in a safe environment," Ramsey said.

Ramsey said communication is critical from the back to the front end of the flagging operation. Employees are taught how to properly use signs, hand signals and movements to keep drivers safe in a work zone.

The operation is, of course, is just a simulation, but in one week these workers will be out on the highway, inches from traffic going 50-70 mph.

Ramsey said they often use a piece of equipment called a TMA, or truck mount attenuator. It's designed to be a buffer between vehicles and workers, in a worst case scenario. Recently, it was put to use.

"You can see how much power and energy there is in an accident and how quickly a life can be changed or lost," Ramsey said. "We hate to think about it, but what if that was a person? What if those were arms and legs and internal organs?"

Although it's a good piece of equipment, Ramsey said it doesn't replace making good decisions as drivers -- like putting down the distractions and paying attention to these signs.

"It's a very very dangerous job, but with watching out for each other and being smart with our decisions, using our training, using our good equipment," Ramsey said, "then we'll be OK. We'll go home at the end of the day, and that's the goal to go home at the end of the day."

If you are interested in becoming a Missouri Department of Transportation employee, click here and apply for a job.

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