Flag Controller: "Flagger" Role and Requirements
I use to think a Flag Controller was not a very important role in keeping the public and workers in a work zone safe. You may think as I did, that a Flag Controller's job is simple, but on the contrary.
As a “Flagger or Flag Controller", you need to constantly mitigate traffic in work zones. .
What does it take?
A "Flagger" must be able to communicate clear and precise messages to motorist and the keep traffic moving. In addition, a "Flagger" must always be alert of what's taking place at the work site in order to maintain the safety of pedestrians, motorist, or for the workers on site.
Being a "Flag Controller" can be stressful if not properly trained. If you are considering becoming a "Flagger" do a self evaluation. Ask yourself, am I able to do the following:
- Do I think quickly on my feet?
- Am I able to receive and understand non-verbal messages?
- Could I clearly communicate non-verbal directives to others while standing in moving traffic?
- Can I do all of the above, in a pleasant manner that demands audience attention?
OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, provides helpful information on the role of a Flag Controller.
Lots to think about I know. Nonetheless, here are three things I found to be important when it comes to considering becoming a "Flagger".
It’s one thing to be heard, and it’s another thing to be seen. As a "Flagger", You need to be heard, and you need to be seen by others.
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) provides information on qualifications and requirements for a Flag Controller. When it comes to safety apparel for a Flag Controller, MUTCD identifies a set standard regarding high visibility apparel for a "Flagger".
The Class 2 or Class 3 safety vests which SafetyGear Online offers, are ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 rated, which also comply with MUTCD requirements. Having the proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as a hard hat, safety glasses and high visibility work gloves should also be worn by a "Flagger", along with traffic batons and handheld stop signs.
Knowing the Work Zone and Communication
As a Flag Controller, it is critical to always be informed of the work zone layout. In addition, they also need to be aware of the work zone protection plan in case of an emergency. The "Flagger" will need to know how, and where, to direct traffic quickly as not to interfere with the emergency.
In addition to knowing the work site, it is also important to know what types of machinery and vehicles will be in the area, so they are able to position themselves to stay visible to machine operators, traffic, pedestrians and workers.
Then there’s the use of radios for communication, use of handheld traffic signs and hand signals, to direct traffic to drivers of heavy machinery, large trucks, cars, vans, buses, bicyclist, and pedestrians.
Getting Training and Certification
With all that said, proper training is important. At times, the role of a Flag Controller is delegated to a worker who has not received the proper training, which can put people in danger.
So be sure you get the proper Flag Controller, “Flagger”, training. There are various training and certification courses that are available for Flag Controllers.
The American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) provides information on state requirements, as well as, resources in "Flagger" training courses. You can read more on their ATSSA website.
Considering a Flag Controller?
If you are considering becoming a Flag Controller, or planning on hiring a Flag Controller, be sure he/she receives proper training. Remember, Flag Controllers – “Flaggers” help mitigate safety for workers and the public.
And if you’re a motorist traveling through a work zone and see a “Flagger”, remember he/she has a big responsibility to mitigate safety, so pay attention to their directives. Keep yourself and others safe.
Your best route to safety, is with SafetyGear Online.