The New Year has gotten off to a rainy start. That’s tough on any paving crew, but especially for Paving Foreman Tom Davis. Even though 20 years have passed since the accident that crushed both of his legs, resulting in 11 surgeries and rendering him immobile for the better part of a year-and-a-half, the weather still causes pain in his shins.
“Some mornings, if it’s raining or overcast, I sit on the side of my bed waiting until I can stand up,” he says. “Every day, I still feel it.”
The incident behind Davis’ pain occurred in Charlotte, NC on David Cox Road, north of downtown. While performing patch repairs in a traffic-controlled area, he was struck by a motorist who had entered the work zone, and pinned between the vehicle and a walk-behind saw. The driver admitted to police that she did not realize she had entered the work zone until she heard Davis’ top half slam against the hood of her vehicle. Davis, too, was unaware until the moment of impact.
“It happened so quickly,” he recalls. “I never saw the vehicle until I felt it hit me.”
38 years old at the time, and a paving supervisor for another company, Davis says that his crew was implementing all safety and traffic control measures when the accident occurred: “Nothing we could have done differently would have stopped that person from coming into the work zone,” he says. “Nothing. You can’t stop people from doing their makeup while they drive, or being on their phone, or what-ever. All you can control is you.”
Today, Davis instills that message in each member of his paving crew, by focusing on preparation and developing a clear safety plan long before the first piece of equipment arrives on-site. He also sets a clear expectation for safety performance throughout his team, backed up by the experience he survived 20 years ago. “My goal everyday is to keep my team safe, and spare them what I’ve been through.”