A Truck Mounted Attenuator (TMA), is a mobile crash cushion attached to the back of an EPWater vehicle’s frame. | Photo courtesy EP Water
The work of an El Paso Water field crew can take them to all parts of the city, from residential neighborhoods to traffic-filled intersections, but the busy streets are where they need the most protection.
The utility recently added a Truck Mounted Attenuator (TMA), a mobile crash cushion attached to the back of an EPWater vehicle’s frame. The TMA can be used on moving shadow trucks, stationary block vehicles, or advance warning vehicles.
“The purpose of the TMA is to protect our workers,” said Albert Gonzalez, Heavy Equipment Trainer Supervisor, who has worked for the utility for more than 20 years. “We’re being proactive instead of reactive to avoid injury or something worse.”
Utility officials say that the newest addition to the utility’s fleet has been in use for several months in high-traffic areas and comes equipped with traffic cones and a marquee sign to alert drivers.
Before employees can use the TMA, they must go through a training class led by Gonzalez. The training curriculum is provided by Texas Local Technical Assistance Program managed by the University of Texas Arlington’s Public Works Institute. The positioning of the TMA is critical at any work site, the vehicle must provide sufficient warning to approaching traffic.
“The TMA must be placed at the start of the work zone to provide the maximum protection for our employees,” said Gonzalez. Through the training course, employees also learn where to place traffic cones and how to direct traffic.
The attachment at the rear of the vehicle is made of aluminum materials meant to provide durability and longevity. The design absorbs the impact of a moving vehicle while shielding employees in a work zone.
Employees are trained to remain vigilant and look out for one another while working in high-traffic areas, but the unpredictability of other drivers can pose a danger to workers in a matter of seconds. The purchase of a TMA vehicle is an investment to add a layer of protection.
“I can’t stress enough how important these purchases are for our field personnel,” said Martin Noriega, Utility Chief Operations Officer. An additional truck was purchased this fiscal year as part of the department’s updated safety program.
“This is a good step for the utility to improve our safety,” said Gonzalez.