Rock to Road

News
Flaggers still vulnerable


September 28, 2009
By Andy Bateman

September 28, 2009 – An incident in B.C. last
Friday underlines the ongoing risks to construction workers on roadbuilding
projects.

The Province reported on Saturday that a 23-year-old flagger is
in critical condition after she was struck on Highway 10 in Delta Friday
morning. The woman suffered serious injuries after she was hit by an eastbound
Honda SUV at 6:55 a.m. in a well-marked construction site in the 7200-block of
the highway.

The 29-year-old driver, the only person in the Honda, remained at the
scene and was taken by police before being released on Friday. Police say a
charge of dangerous driving causing bodily harm is being considered. It is
unknown if speed was a factor, although alcohol does not appear to have been involved,
according to Delta police.

Construction is the second most dangerous occupation in the province,
says the report, with flaggers an easy target for distracted motorists. At
least three flaggers have been killed on construction sites since 1994, according
to WorkSafeBC.

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The numbers are drastically down since a mandatory province-wide
training program was created in 2003 to certify traffic control persons, or
flaggers. But despite the decline in fatalities, injury claims for flaggers
have remained relatively steady, with 417 approved disability claims between
2004 and 2008.

"What we need to do as a public is be outraged that this continues
to happen," said Steve Torrence, the chief executive officer of the
Construction Safety Network of B.C., which runs the traffic-control training
and certification program.

"It’s every part of society that seems to think that their time is
more important, their lives are more important than that man or woman who has
put their life on the line to do a high risk job in terms of traffic control.”

Industry officials say the 12,000 certified flaggers working in B.C. are
constantly in danger, as rushing motorists put their lives in peril by
disobeying, misunderstanding or ignoring the flaggers’ actions.

Motorists need to recognize their bad habits or risk being the next
person to injure or kill someone simply trying to do their job, Torrence said.

Flaggers in B.C. have the highest training levels in Canada. Each flagger is required to
complete an intensive two-day training and certification program, followed by
an examination devised by the Construction Safety Network, WorkSafeBC and B.C.
Road Builders. It covers job and safety precautions and must be written before
they can begin the job.