Construction Road Safety - Flaggers are Your Friend

Slow Down, My Daddy Works Here

Advertisement for a work safe environment and work-safe gear. photo from theshsgroup.com
Advertisement for a work safe environment and work-safe gear. photo from theshsgroup.com
Just another day on the job - photo from www.elcosh.org
Just another day on the job - photo from www.elcosh.org
What part of this sign don't you understand? photo from www.burlington-wi.gov
What part of this sign don't you understand? photo from www.burlington-wi.gov
Traffic plan - necessary for any road work. Photo from www.osha.gov
Traffic plan - necessary for any road work. Photo from www.osha.gov
photo from flickr.com
photo from flickr.com

A Hazardous Occupation

1996 - Edmonton Ab, Canada - flagger dies after being run over by a water truck backing up on a worksite. This fatality is the 9th in Alberta since 1976
Alberta Labor Information Services. Fatal Accident Investigation Reports. Alberta, 1996

British Columbia - 8 flagperson fatalities since 1978. 325 disability claims filed by flaggers since 1986 Worker's Compensation Board of British Columbia. Fatal Claims Tables for 1978-1995. Vancouver, Canada: Worker's Compensation Board of British Columbia, 1995.
Worker's Compensation Board of British Columbia. Injury Claims Tables for 1986-1995. Vancouver, Canada

1995 - Ontario Canada - flagperson suffers two broken legs after being struck and dragged 16 meters by motorist.
Can Occup Health Safety News 1995: 18

2004 - New York State - 47 year old flagger struck by pickup truck in highway work zone. Read more here.

1980 - 1986 - Washington State - 42 fatalities, 2389 injuries, 5886 damages to property Accident data was obtained by the Headquarters Construction Office of Washington State Department of Transportation

Finding statistics for job related injuries orfatalities for Traffic Control Persons (the actual job title forflaggers) is extremely difficult. This could be due to the fact that the statistics might be listed under ConstructionEquipment Operators, as flaggers are an integral component of work sitesafety, simply listed under each State or Province.

Didn't Your Mother Ever Tell You Not To Play In Traffic?

This occupation might not have made the Top Ten List For Most Dangerous Jobs,but it should. This job is not for the faint of heart, or slow witted. It may seem very easy, after all, it isn't rocket science, and at times it's akin to watching paint dry, but there is a huge risk to life and limb that goes with this profession.

*DISCLAIMER*
Any views or opinions presented in this hub are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of
Hub Pages.

Those of you who are politically correct should skip this next section.

I realize that when dealing with the public one can expect to come in contact with certain individuals who can be challenging (to say the least,) but I have never seen so many ignorant, careless, inattentive, cell phone wielding, texting, road raging, stupid people in all my life!

Please tell me, what part of "Road Closed" isn't understandable. Slow does not mean move over and maintain your speed, it means slow! Stop does not mean it's ok for you to ignore the sign and drive through, it means stop - and not two inches from my ankle either! Honking your horn is not going to make the construction crew do their job any faster. Large equipment needs time and a lot of room.

It is not acceptable for you to yell at me because the road is closed and you are late for work. It is not my fault that the city won't put up road closure signs half a mile before you get to me. Contrary to popular belief, I did not get up this morning with the express thought of standing in the middle of a barricaded road just to piss you off! How would you like it if I came to your place of work and screamed at you?

Believe it or not, my job is to keep you from getting smushed by backhoes, dumptrucks, and oncoming traffic, and the crew from getting run over by you. Every summer, on almost every road across the country, you will see the familiar High Vis (short for high visibility) jackets and vests, worn by everyone foolish enough to 'play' in traffic. Please show a little respect for these people, even if some of them do look like they have their thumb up their butt. It takes a lot of courage (or stupidity) to stand a foot away from a car moving at 30 miles an hour, never mind the ones who fly past at 50 simply because they are running late and don't want to obey your sign. Pay attention to those bright orange and yellow jackets. A lot of us take our responsibility very seriously and work hard to keep everyone safe.

Certification

All Traffic Control Persons who work on public roads have to be certified.The only exceptions to this rule are flaggers who work on private construction sites. I am not familiar with the regulations governing flaggers in the United States, but in Canada, if your workplace is on any of the highways or streets in the country, you need certification.

  • The Ministry of Transportation and Workers Compensation Board have strict regulations that have to be adhered to by anyone who works in traffic control. Before any signs are placed on the roads, there has to be a traffic plan submitted to the appropriate city planner for inspection and approval. Only then will a permit be issued for the period of time agreed upon by the planner for the subsequent road work. This is submitted by the company that contracts the actual work, and once approved is given to the Traffic Control Supervisor so he or she (generally she,) can set up the work site according to the specifications.

Safety Equipment

Flaggers are responsible for purchasing their own equipment as set down by the Workers Compensation Board and Ministry of Transportation. These are to include:

  • High visibility vest,
  • Arm and leg reflectors
  • Orange hard hat (construction sites are allowed to use different colours as long as the flaggers remain on their sites. All road/highway flaggers must wear high visibility orange hard hats.)
  • Reflective strips adhered to the hard hat
  • Steel toed boots - these can be either low or high, but must cover the ankle bone, and have the appropriate safety ratings. Steel toed runners are not allowed.
  • Stop/slow sign.
  • Flashlight for night work
  • Appropriate rain gear

Most companies will provide their flagpersons with signs, as stated in the regulations, however, the majority of flaggers prefer to purchase their own, which is why I included it in the list.

Safety Shoes

The single most important item that a flagger wears are his or her boots. I can tell you from experience, you need to have comfortable, good fitting boots if you are going to be standing in the middle of a road for sixteen hour, back to back shifts.

I find that even though the insoles that come with the boots can be quite thick and cushioned, they don't do much for comfort. After my first day on the job, which was a ten hour shift, I immediately hobbled to the closest drug store and picked up a pair of Dr. Scholl's insoles for the heels and lower back.

You wouldn't think it to look at a flagger, unless of course it happens to be pouring buckets at the time, that they would be the least bit uncomfortable. Trust me when I tell you - we are! You try standing on concrete or pavement in the pouring rain or 30 degree heat, holding a 3 pound sign at arms length and moving deliniators and cones for 8 to 16 hours. Then tell me my job is easy.

Please resume speed

For those of you who have braved the the bumpy road of my single lane, construction hub, I would like to thank you for obeying the traffic signs, and allowing me to keep you safe. It is always a relief to say goodbye to construction zones and continue your journey unimpeded. You may now resume your speed to the posted limits.

Have a nice day.

One for the ladies

Don't you just love a man in uniform...photo from site.victorytraffic.com
Don't you just love a man in uniform...photo from site.victorytraffic.com

More by this Author


Comments 17 comments

Buffoon profile image

Buffoon 6 years ago

Dig that disclaimer :) Dig the black cowboy hard hat, too! *g* Back to business tho: Are people really such cretins? Nah, don't bother answering that! *L*


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Hey Buffoon - I was pretty surprised to see hard hats that look like stetsons, and yes people are really that bad. As soon as you put them behind the wheel of a car something changes. People who wouldn't dream of cutting in front of you in a bank line up and wait quietly and patiently, suddenly act like the road is their private domain and think nothing of swerving directly in front of you and slamming on the brakes. Or in my case, of taking out their frustrations on the first person they see.

I had one older gentleman stop and roll down his window to tell me how outrageous all of this construction was and how inconvenient it was to turn around, and how much time he would lose, and now of course he was going to be late. Then he paused and said, I realize that it isn't your fault...and before he said another word I said, I know, but you're going to yell at me anyway.


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

It is so disturbing that people do not slow down for these workers and how many of them are hurt and killed. It is not their fault that they are inconveniencing traffic..it is their job and they are there to keep drivers safe. Such a dangerous job. I do hope they get paid well!! great hub!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

I think 'well' is a relative term thh, depending on what side of the fence you are on. Here, at least, you still work hard for your dollar. It is better (when the work is good,) than provincial or state income assistance, but it isn't always a full time, 8 hour a day job. We can go a full week and only work a 4 hour shift, or we can work back to back 16's four days straight. Feast or famine lol...

I'm pleased you liked the hub :) thanks!


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

I've seen cars moving too fast and almost hitting a flagger. Scary.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

We've got a similar traffic campaign in Alberta - hope it works! This is a great hub, Enelle - just what I've come to expect from you.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Funny you should mention that...I've seen the same thing! Seriously though, it is scary sometimes...

Thanks RedElf - I read Patty's hub about dangerous jobs and figured I would add my two cents!


Joe 6 years ago

we are the direct manufactor of safety vest


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Well since I have you as a captive audience, how bout some improvements! That velcro has got to go! It snags everything! And how about making them a little more 'female' friendly while you're at it? Something with a little curve. We get tired of looking like we weigh 300 lbs and can bench press 250 with one hand tied behind our backs!

Just a thought....:)


George 5 years ago

I see that the work sites are not detouring or stopping traffic and therefore the workers are rushing heavy equiptment around in the few seconds they think that the traffic has stopped for. Its ridiculous. The flagger killed in Edmonton was hit by a construction co-worker...Not a passing car. Others hit by drunks and confused people make sense as they are out ther and anyone else venturinmg into their path is doomed. I always slow down to the posted speed and also am prepared for an "emergency stop" which i have had to do even when going slow and have personally almost had a mishap at least a dozen times. Once a heavy equiptment operaton on site and then a dumptruck driver 3 seconds after that backed up fast (into traffic) and threw a flagger directly onto the hood of my car. Luckily I was already stopped but its like Russian roulette out ther!!! Cheers.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 5 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

I here ya! It can be pretty crazy out there, and half the time the workers don't tell the flaggers where they are going which makes it really hard for us to do our jobs properly...


ravko profile image

ravko 5 years ago

I too am in traffic control, I made a hub on it and then in my searches came across your hub, it is great, I am sure glad I came across this...


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 5 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

A pleasure to meet you my dear! I will have to check out yours :D


Dellas 5 years ago

lots of great comments...i am looking for statistics on flagger ingeries and fatalities. i not a sadistic person, i am a foreman in so cal and am worried about empoyees that are texting and working. i came across this blog by chance, and it is real...i would like to help to keep my people alive and real. In the 7 years i have been doing this job i have been hit by a trucks mirror, landed on a hood of a lexas, and had a Range Rover flip over and ride the "K" rail towards me!!! i can not tell you how many people have yelled obsenities at me, and yet I haved tried to smile and wish those people a wonderful day... our work is one of the most thankless jobs out there, and yet we still do it, and it still has to be done!!!!!!!!! I would love to take to the safety meetings every Friday something that would stick in my workers brains so that they could go home to their families that and every other day@ thank you for reading my ramblings


smiley 4 years ago

I found your hub by accident and as I read it I was, Yeah! Right on the money. I too am a Flagger and can relate so much to what you're saying. In fact, just the other day I had a guy who came flying at me, and when I stopped him,he was all yelling about being late. I walked over to his car and gave him a big smile saying"I thought you'ld like to be number one" Humour is a huge defuser and I use it. But, sometimes I want to smack the people who say our job is easy "all we do is stand there and flip a sign." HAH. They have no clue. Not only do we have to keep control, some crews and operators think we're psychic. I keep telling them its PSYCHO. We gotta be a little to do this job and I love my job!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

So true smiley! Sometimes I think traffic trying to sneak through is doing it to see if we are paying attention! I had one fellow that kept creeping past my stop sign - until I stepped right in front of his bumper and used my free hand to point to each letter while looking him in the eyes and saying each one aloud! LOL...He had a very sheepish look on his face when I finished :D


Bethann Wood profile image

Bethann Wood 3 years ago from Banks, Oregon

I need to share this info on facebook

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