Flaggers: The Key Component To Road Work Safety

In a work zone, the safety of workers and motorists depends largely on the flagger’s capabilities in carrying out their duties.  Additionally, because flaggers are in direct contact with the public, their professionalism and demeanor can greatly affect the public’s perception and respect for the work being done. It is important that flaggers be alert but courteous. A neat appearance also earns respect which can make the job easier for all who are executing duties in a work zone. 
Clothing and Equipment 
Proper clothing and equipment is a must. For daytime, ANSI Class 2 high visibility safety apparel must be worn and a Stop/Slow paddle with a 7’ staff is used to direct traffic. The paddle should be reflective and measure 24” across. For nighttime, when visibility is compromised, it is important for workers to wear ANSI Class 3 retro reflective vests and have a retro-reflective Stop/Slow paddle. Auxiliary lighting is important to illuminate the work area as well as the flagger. And the worker must use an LED Light Baton or flashlight with a glow cone to wave traffic on. 
Preparation is Key
No work should begin, nor should the flagger attempt to direct traffic until the advance warning signs are in place. These signs indicate to drivers that a work area is ahead and helps them anticipate and slow down prior to reaching the work zone. Once the signs are in place, flaggers should look for a safe place to stand in a visible area, away from workers and work vehicles. Make sure no vehicles or equipment are blocking egress in case a flagger should need to move away from an oncoming vehicle.  
Know the Moves
Before stopping traffic, be sure you are in a safe area on the roadside, display the “Stop” panel and raise your free hand toward oncoming traffic to indicate that traffic should stop. Try to make eye contact with the oncoming driver. Once the driver is stopped, moved out so that the following vehicles can see the stop sign. Remember not to step out to the roadway before traffic is stopped and always face toward oncoming traffic. If necessary, glance back but do not move your body so that your back is to the traffic flow. Once the lead flagger indicates that traffic can proceed, hold the free hand up again, move out of harm’s way to the side of the road and rotate the paddle to reveal the “Slow” panel — then motion with your free hand for traffic to proceed. 
Being alert and responsive to quick changes is important in keeping both motorists and workers safe. It is important to be assertive but courteous as you are the company’s first impression to the public.