We all see the signs posted to warn us. However, many people don’t give a lot of thought to flagger safety and all the responsibilities that a flagger must handle while on the worksite. Some may even think of flagging as a “cake job”. As a flagger, the keys to flagger safety are staying out of the roadway until traffic is stopped, providing a way out if things go wrong, and providing clear authoritative directions through body language and signage. Would you find this situation you see in this photo acceptable at your roadway construction site?
Untrained, poorly trained, or unsupervised flaggers can result in dangerous conditions for themselves, co-workers, and those traveling on the roadway. The flagger’s primary task is to control drivers in the work zone. This is done by clearly communicating one of three traffic direction commands: STOP, PROCEED, SLOW. To do this effectively, several things must happen. First, a Temporary Traffic Control Plan (TTCP) must be developed according to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). And secondly, the flaggers involved must be properly trained and equipped.
A few things to remember regarding flagger safety and responsibilities are:
- Flaggers must be mentally alert, authoritative, courteous, and ready to get out of the way and warn others if a rouge vehicle enters the work zone.
- A properly designed TTCP should have defined areas where the motorist should stop, when to transition lanes, and provide a safe area out of the roadway for flagging.
- The MUTCD dictates that flaggers must be visible for a minimum distance based on traffic speed. For example, if this operation was on a highway with a speed limit of 45 m.p.h., the flagger would have to be visible for a minimum of 495 feet.
- Flaggers must always command attention while performing their duties.
- Flaggers must wear high visibility clothing that has a reflectivity capable of being seen for a minimum of 1,000 feet at all times.
Now that you know a little more about flagging requirements, what do you see wrong with the picture above? Do you think it might be difficult to see this flagger from a long distance? Because he is seated, he is obscuring quite a bit of his high visibility clothing and potentially reducing his visibility. Could it be hard to command attention and communicate to drivers what to do while sitting on the back of a truck?
It should also be noted that OSHA is continuing to inspect and cite organizations for failing to develop and implement proper traffic control measures and flagger safety. In 2012, OSHA issued an inspection directive prescribing how compliance inspectors shall inspect work zones involving traffic control. Additionally, OSHA recently issued a $42,000 in penalties to a construction company for multiple traffic control violations.