Paver operators generally want to know everything that's going on, they usually want to know why it's going on, and they don't like hearing "I don't know" for an answer. Because when he's up on the paver, placing an overlay at 20 feet per minute, that "I don't know" answer is going to result in some type of problem for the paving crew or the contractor - whether it's a delay (a waste of money) or poor quality work that must be fixed (delay, wasted time, wasted money).
So paver operators often are the most self-confident people on the crew - they have to be because they are making quick decisions on the fly, adapting to what's happening during the day, and they don't have the time to second-guess themselves.
Paver operators must be alert and constantly aware of everything that is going on around them. Paver operators are situated in the highest spot on a paving job so they have the best view of virtually the entire operation. Every other person on the crew is at or near ground level and can't see over the big paver, so the operator must assume responsibility of policing the jobsite. He needs to know where the laborers are, where the rollers are, and where the trucks are coming in from and going out from. He needs to be aware of traffic concerns surrounding the jobsite and needs to keep an eye out for pedestrians.
So paver operators, who usually move into that job from screed operators are, in the best sense of the term, "know it alls," and if your crew has a good one you should consider yourself fortunate; if you are not a paver operator and want to be one, polishing the skills discussed here will help you on your way.
For more on the role of a paver operator see the online featured article "How Every Paver Operator Should Start and End His Day".
John S. Ball III, president of Top-Quality Paving, is a regular contributor to Pavement and an annual presenter on paving-related topics at National pavement Expo and National Pavement Expo West. Reach him at email@example.com.