OSHA Safety Manuals | Flagger Safety
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flagger safety

Flagger Safety

Flagger Safety

Flaggers keep motorists and road workers safe during temporary roadwork by following the safe work practices and training requirements from OSHA and the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

Get training from a qualified person on safe work practices, traffic control procedures, and communication techniques with the public.  Understand the different traffic control setups and roadwork hazards.  Recognize hazards and emergency situations, respond and maneuver quickly, and warn coworkers if needed.  Demonstrate that you can control traffic with the correct procedures during your training.

Wear high visibility safety apparel that meets Performance Class 2 (daytime) and Class 3 (nighttime) requirements of the ANSI 107-2004 standard.  The apparel background should be fluorescent orange-red or fluorescent yellow-green background.  The retroreflective material can be orange, yellow, white, silver, yellow-green, or a fluorescent version of these colors, and needs to be visible at a minimum distance of 1,000 feet.  Wear a hardhat, safety boots, and gloves.

Locate the flagger station far enough in front of the work zone to give motorists time to recognize construction activity, slow down, and stop.  Consider road speed, visibility, and other road conditions when choosing the flagger station location.  Use advance warning signs spaced and sized according to the road conditions and speed.  Place stations out of the way of moving construction vehicles to avoid backing accidents.  Locate stations where vehicles accidentally running through the area can have access to an escape route. At night, light the flagger station.  Signs and lighting are not required in emergency situations.

Control traffic in the roadwork zone by using STOP/SLOW paddles, lights, or red flags for emergencies.  Use deliberate, easy to understand hand gestures and body postures so drivers can see you, follow your instructions, and maneuver safely through the area.  Where flaggers can’t see each other, use communication devices.

Remain alert at all times while on duty.  Face traffic and stand off to the side on the shoulder or in the closed lane of traffic to avoid moving vehicles.  Don’t enter the open roadway until traffic has stopped.  Don’t multi-task while you are flagging.  A split second awareness and emergency response on your part can save lives.

  • To stop traffic, stand in a safe location on the shoulder of the road, away from moving traffic.
  • Face traffic and extend the Stop paddle in a stationary position with your arm extended horizontally away from your body.
  • Your free arm should be raised with your palm toward approaching traffic.
  • Look directly at the approaching driver. Make sure that you make direct eye contact with the driver.
  • Remain on the shoulder of the road after the first vehicle has stopped.
  • Always make certain that the flagger and the paddle are visible to the drivers of all stopped vehicles.
  • The flagger should never stand in the traffic lane unless, in the flagger’s opinion, the drivers of the stopped vehicles are unaware of the flagger’s presence.
  • If it’s necessary for the flagger to stand in the traffic lane, the flagger may only stand near the center line and never cross it.
  • When the flagger is satisfied that the drivers of all stopped vehicles are aware of his or her presence, the flagger should return to the shoulder of the road.
  • To direct stopped traffic to proceed, remain at your station on the shoulder. If you’re in the stopped traffic lane, return to the shoulder.
  • Face traffic and turn the Slow paddle to face traffic. Hold the Slow paddle in a stationary position with your arm extended horizontally away from your body.
  • Do not wave the paddle around as it creates a confusing message.
  • To alert or slow traffic, stand on the shoulder of the road and face traffic with the Slow sign paddle held in a stationary position with your arm extended horizontally away from your body.
  • You may motion up and down with the free hand, palm down, indicating that the vehicle should slow down.
  • Never stand in the path of oncoming traffic.
  • At night, flagger stations should be well illuminated.
  • The flagger shall wear reflective pants, and vest, shirt, or jacket, or other approved garment such as a jumpsuit.
  • Reflective channelizing devices should also be used. In an emergency situation, a minimum size 24 inch by 24 inch red flag may be used instead
  • of a paddle, until a paddle is available.
  • However, as soon as a paddle is available, it should be used.
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