Paving Equipment Operators
On the Job
Paving equipment operators use machines to apply asphalt and concrete to roads.
You might say that no smell is quite as unique as the wafting scent of asphalt on a hot and breezy summer day. Okay, let's speak truthfully here. Asphalt stinks. It smells very, very bad. Until recently, that is. A company developed a chemical additive that, when mixed into asphalt, reduces asphalt's characteristic sharp odor. It isn't a perfume, either. Instead of covering up the smell, it actually reduces it. This has made several people much happier, perhaps no one more so than asphalt paving machine operators.Asphalt paving machine operators control machines that apply asphalt to roadbeds. They turn valves that regulate the temperature and control the flow of asphalt. They watch to be sure the machine pours the asphalt evenly and without leaving empty areas. They also make sure there is a steady flow of asphalt into the hopper.
Concrete paving machine operators run machines that spread and level wet concrete. They move levers and turn wheels to operate the vehicle and control attachments. Operators also observe the surface of the concrete to point out low spots where workers should add more concrete. Operators use other attachments to spray on a compound that cures the concrete, or to cut joints so the concrete can expand.
Tamping equipment operators use machines to compact the earth. They also compact other fill materials such as rocks. In addition, they operate machines that cut or break up old pavement.
The operation of much of this equipment is becoming more complex. Some machines are operated by computer controls. Many operators also set up and inspect the machines they use. They make adjustments and minor repairs. In addition, operators coordinate truck dumping and drive equipment to and from job sites.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Move levers and turn wheels to operate and control equipment.
- Set up and inspect equipment. Make adjustments and minor repairs.
- Watch to be sure machines distribute the materials evenly.
- Observe the surface of concrete to point out low spots for workers to add concrete.
- Operate equipment with computerized controls.
- Coordinate truck dumping.
- Turn valves to regulate the temperature of asphalt and control its flow onto the roadbed.
- Make sure there is a constant flow of asphalt going into the hopper.
- Operate tamping machines that compact earth and other fill materials for roadbeds.
- Set up guidelines for curbs, using a variety of materials.
- Shovel blacktop.
- Fill equipment with paving materials.
- Operate machines that cut or break up old pavement.
- Drive equipment to and from job sites.
- Install equipment onto machines, using hand tools.
- Use other attachments to spray on a curing compound or cut expansion joints.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Control machines and processes.
- Operate vehicles or mechanized equipment.
- Perform activities that use the whole body.
- Handle and move objects.
- Inspect equipment, structures, or materials.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Work for the public.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Repair and maintain mechanical equipment.
- Estimate sizes, quantities, time, cost, or materials needed.
- Teach others.
- Judge the value of objects, services, or people.
- Coordinate the work and activities of others.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a medium level of job-required social contact. They work with others most of the time.
- Communicate with coworkers daily in person.
- Are responsible for the health and safety of other workers.
- Are responsible for work outcomes and results of other workers.
- Often are placed in conflict situations.
- Sometimes deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous individuals.
- Sometimes communicate with coworkers by telephone.
- Work in a group or as part of a team.
- Nearly always work outdoors.
- Always wear protective attire, such as hard hats.
- Are exposed to contaminants on a daily basis, such as concrete sealer and asphalt.
- Are exposed to hazardous equipment on a daily basis. However, accidents can be avoided by following safety practices.
- Are always exposed to very hot or very cold temperatures when working outdoors.
- Are exposed to sounds and noise levels that are distracting and uncomfortable on a daily basis. They use equipment that is noisy.
- Are exposed to hazardous conditions or situations on a daily basis. They may get cuts or minor burns.
- Are often exposed to very bright or dim lighting conditions.
- Often are exposed to whole body vibrations from the machines they operate. This is especially true for tamping machine operators.
- Are sometimes exposed to cramped work places that require getting into awkward positions.
- Work in open equipment on a daily basis. Often operate enclosed equipment.
- Work near other people, but usually have a few feet of space separating them from others.
- Must allow the work pace to be set by the speed of the paving equipment.
- Must be sure that their work is exact. Errors could result in safety hazards.
- Repeat the same physical activities, such as shoveling blacktop.
- Make decisions on a weekly basis that strongly impact other workers. They can make most decisions without talking to a supervisor.
- Are able to set some tasks for the day without talking to a supervisor.
- Must meet strict deadlines on a weekly basis.
- Generally do not have a set schedule each week. Their schedules depend on the weather, and availability of work.
- Usually work more than 40 hours a week.
- May work in remote locations.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Use hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.
- Repeat the same motions.
- Bend or twist their body.
- Stand or sit for long periods of time.
- Walk or run for long periods of time.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- Move two or more limbs together (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while remaining in place.
- Adjust body movements or equipment controls to keep pace with speed changes of moving objects.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- React quickly using hands, fingers, or feet.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- Use one or two hands to grasp, move, or assemble objects.
- Bend, stretch, twist, or reach out.
- Use muscles to lift, push, pull, or carry heavy objects.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- See details of objects whether they are nearby or far away.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- Choose quickly and correctly among various movements when responding to different signals.
- Be physically active for long periods without getting tired or out of breath.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Coordinate movement of several parts of the body, such as arms and legs, while the body is moving.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Use muscles for extended periods without getting tired.
- Move arms and legs quickly.
- See objects in very bright or very low light.
- Make fast, repeated movements of fingers, hands, and wrists.
- While looking forward, see objects or movements that are off to the side.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.