Flaggers brace for careless driving as summer roadwork ramps up

Construction workers look out for each other, but it’s up to the flagger to spot risks ahead

Sarina Hanschke was directing traffic at a Lower Mainland construction zone one morning when a driver threw a hot coffee at her.

On another shift, a passenger in a car opened their door while the vehicle was in motion and nearly hit her.

Roadwork projects are ramping up across the region as the weather heats up, and if Hanschke’s stories say anything, so will commuters’ reckless and startling behaviour as they drive through construction zones.

“It’s incredibly alarming to see this kind of behaviour,” says Hanschke, 29, quality assurance to the TCP for the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance. “Traffic, at the end of the day, is an uncontrollable hazard.”

These kinds of incidents make up her job as traffic control personnel, or flagger – a job she’s had since she was 18.

They represent the multitude of near misses hidden behind every worker who gets injured, or worse.

RELATED: Flagger accident underlines need for roadside safety campaign: WV police

A total of 21 roadside workers were injured last year, according to a recent report from WorkSafeBC, while one person died.

How do you persuade people to drive carefully through construction zones, when all they want to do is get home after a long day on the job?

Public awareness campaigns have zeroed in on the fact that the workers are mothers, fathers and people’s children.

Hanschke says workers do their best to look out for each other, but the responsibility falls substantially on the flagger to see what’s up ahead.

They look out for any safety hazards amid the flow of cars and behind each steering wheel, she says, but things can still be unpredictable.

She says cement barricades can shield workers for long-term construction projects. But for short-term work, employees are usually protected by road cones, which can’t do much to deter a wayward car.

“At the end of the day, we’re at the mercy of the public,” Hanschke says.

Her now-retired dad worked in construction as long as she can remember, and her brother is also in the industry.

“I never realized how significant it was that my dad made it home safe every day until I was out there and had seen first-hand some of the behaviours that significantly impact your ability to do your job safely,” she said.

“If we can get one person to really second-guess and consider and slow down for that person working on the roadside … it forces the 10, 15, 20 cars behind them to slow down and pay a little bit more attention.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Mission seniors centre delayed as new questions, concepts arise

Bob Ingram steps down after announcement of possible changes to senior/youth concept

Crown appeals stay against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six killings

B.C.’s prosecution service says judge’s decision reveals ‘errors of law’

Mission recycling numbers improving

Less recyclable material being tossed in trash

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Abbotsford and Mission consider Fraser River water source

Project cheaper than Stave Lake but could still cost more than $50 million

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Hwy. 1 avalanche improvements promise less delays

B.C.’s new remote avalanche-control systems near Revelstoke are ready for avalanche season

Rare summer tanager delights Vancouver bird watchers

It’s the first time that bird has been recorded in the Metro Vancouver area

2017 word of the year: Feminism

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017: ‘Feminism’

200 Russians to compete in Olympics as neutrals

The Russian Olympic Committee expects 200 to compete in South Korea

5 to start your day

Gordie Hogg takes South Surrey White Rock, Crown appeals stay against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six killings and more

Researchers claim the ‘man flu’ does exist

Review of scientific studies suggests ‘man flu’ may be more intense: researcher

Trudeau appoints Supreme Court chief justice

Prime Minister Trudeau appoints Richard Wagner as Supreme Court chief justice

Liberal Hogg wins South Surrey-White Rock byelection over Conservative Findlay

B.C. riding to be represented by non-conservative for first time in decades

Most Read