Aurora maintenance site holds on to Tollway’s Extra Mile for Safety Award for a second year

Aurora maintenance site holds on to Tollways Extra Mile for Safety Award for a second year

To train the Illinois Tollway’s Aurora (M-8) maintenance facility crew to safely and effectively do their jobs, M-8 Manager Brian Fuqua uses a tried-and-true technique he used when he was a high school football coach: circuit training. 

Just like athletes get conditioned by performing a variety of exercises, the 27 roadway maintenance workers at M-8 gear up for what can be a sometimes dangerous job by learning how to properly use their many tools and equipment and perform their duties in small groups. 

The Aurora maintenance facility is responsible for maintaining the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) from Sugar Grove to Oak Brook and rain or shine. 

Their work includes clearing roadway incidents, picking up debris, plowing snow, mowing grass, repairing electrical equipment, fixing guardrails and fences and other jobs to keep the roadways in good condition for customers. They also work with a variety of powerful tools: chainsaws, wood chippers, lawnmowers, jackhammers, concrete saws and acetylene cutting torches. 

“We want everyone to come in, enjoy their work and most importantly, stay safe,” says Fuqua. “We don’t want training to get boring or stale. So we take them out into the yard in smaller groups and let everyone operate the machines or equipment. And safety flows from that.”

This commitment to training helped the Aurora maintenance facility repeat as winners of the Illinois Tollway’s annual Go the Extra Mile for Safety Award for 2023.

Tollway Chairman Arnie Rivera and Tollway leadership recognized the safety achievements at the Aurora maintenance site and presented the traveling trophy team at an awards luncheon on April 19. 

The safety performance award is presented to one of the Tollway’s 12 maintenance facilities that achieves the highest cumulative score based on three safety criteria: incident rate, Toolbox Safety Talks and positive feedback from managers and supervisors who observe and document outstanding safety practices. 

Toolbox Safety Talks are training resources available to maintenance facilities. Each month, the Tollway safety department recommends three safety topics for discussion. Topics include the three-contact rule for entering or exiting vehicles, back safety and proper equipment and materials handling. It also includes watching and discussing the Protect Your Assets series of safety videos, which cover topics including roadway debris removal, proper lifting techniques and moving equipment. 

The Aurora crew conducted 103 Toolbox Safety Talks, which is nearly three times more than the required number of 36 talks. Twice each week, M-8 conducts training sessions on the operation and maintenance of various tools and equipment and discuss various situations maintenance crews might encounter on the roadway.

The Aurora maintenance facility also delivered more positive feedbacks than any other maintenance site, delivering 54 in 2022 – more than four times the number of positive feedbacks they delivered in 2021. In fact, all Tollway maintenance facilities together delivered significantly more positive feedback in 2022: nearly 200 in 2022, compared to only about 60 in 2021. 

“It’s nice to pay compliments and show we appreciate their efforts,” said Fuqua, who keeps all the positive remarks in a binder near the 2021 Go the Extra Mile for Safety Award as a reminder to the crew that their good work is noticed.