Construction work can, by its nature, be inherently dangerous. But with proper equipment, planning, and procedures, much of the danger can be eliminated. Here in New York City, a particularly important part of construction site safety is flagging traffic. Motor accidents on construction sites have the potential to affect numerous groups – motorists, pedestrians, fellow workers, and traffic flaggers themselves. Follow these tips to be a successful flagger:
Body Language is Everything
In order to be a successful flagger, you must hone your non-verbal communication skills. Many times, multiple flaggers may be directing traffic in different directions, so it’s imperative to know the signs and signals for communicating with your fellow co-workers, drivers, and pedestrians. Flaggers should be particularly cognizant of all signaling devices – including regulation flags, traffic signs, and paddles – so that drivers know when to slow down, stop, or go.
Now is NOT the time to blend in. As a flagger, it’s imperative that you can be seen by motorists at all times, even from a distance. The further away a vehicle is when its driver sees you, the more time the driver has to react to changes in signs and traffic patterns. Stock up on high-visibility clothing, including t-shirts, pants, and safety vests. As the weather gets colder, make sure you have a high-visibility jacket as well.
Be a Defensive Flagger
The key rule of defensive driving is to depend on yourself, not other drivers, to do the right thing. As a flagger, you should have the same mentality towards vehicles. Even if you’re using all of the correct flags and signals, always assume that a driver may be distracted. If you see a driver swerving or not looking at the road, be sure to have an escape route in the event of an emergency. You need to protect yourself before it escalates into a dangerous situation where your life is on the line.
Remain Alert and Aware
Know yourself: Are you a highly aware person? If you are the type of person who can pay close attention to multiple things at once, flagging will come far more naturally than if you get easily distracted. Make sure to self-reflect on your personality traits. When you’re on the job, always remain alert to all situations around you, including traffic, pedestrians, and your co-workers. Most importantly, have your eyes on moving vehicles at all times – and never, ever turn your back to oncoming traffic.
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