Originally published 06/07/2017
Work zone flaggers are the first line of defense for road construction workers and are there to help protect the public. It is a critical and dangerous job. Because they are the ones that deal with the speeding, distracted or sometimes angry driver, they must also know how to protect themselves while on the job.
What flaggers should do to protect themselves:
- Most importantly, all flaggers should have the appropriate flagger training and have periodic refresher training.
- Wear high-visibility clothing such as orange, yellow or green vests. Use retro-reflective vests at night.
- Wear other protective equipment such as hard hats, long-sleeved shirts and pants, safety footwear and eyewear.
- Dress appropriately for the weather.
- Stay alert and out of harm’s way by following these guidelines:
- Stand alone on the shoulder in clear view.
- Never stand in the open traffic lane.
- Plan an escape route for emergencies.
- Stay alert and focused on your work.
- Make sure your hand signals don’t conflict with the traffic signals.
- Treat motorists with respect and courtesy. Don’t pick fights or respond in anger. If a driver is a problem, record the make, model and license number of the car, and report the incident to law enforcement.
- If a driver violates your warnings and trespasses your flagging station, warn the other workers in the work zone. Establish a warning signal ahead of time for the work crew in case of an emergency.
Dangerous behaviors flaggers should avoid:
- Standing where you can be crushed;
- Standing in the shade, over the crest of a hill or around a sharp curve;
- Leaving your position until properly relieved;
- Standing near equipment;
- Standing in a group;
- Participating in unnecessary conversation;
- Reading or daydreaming while on duty;
- Using your cell phone;
- Listening to music or using ear phones; or
- Turning your back on traffic.
Remember, working in traffic areas always presents some risks. The job of a flagger is an essential component of worksite safety.