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

VIDEO AND PHOTOS: Langley firefighters take Santa for a ride

Seasonal fundraiser through Walnut Grove and Brookswood swaps candy canes for Food Bank donations

Langley church prepares massive meal

A local chef and parishioners are taking charge in the kitchen for St. Joseph’s 25th annual dinner.

Giants ‘stuff’ Cougars

Vancouver blanks Cougars on Teddy Bear Toss night at Langley Events Centre

Star Wars auction in Langley draws ‘crazy’ response

Seller said to be “very happy” with results

Police sketch shows suspect in assault of 23-year-old woman

Incident took place Nov. 14 on Maclure Road in Abbotsford

VIDEO: Langley Christmas Bureau braces for busy toy distribution days

Volunteers spent the weekend sorting gifts donated for kids from Langley’s underprivileged families.

Amtrak derails over the I-5 in Washington Stage

Injuries and casualties reported, according to sheriff

Mental effects of wildfire still linger in Fort McMurray

‘Resilient, but tired:’ Mental effects of wildfire lingering in Fort McMurray

Climate change hits Winter Olympic preparation

AP Exclusive: Climate change hits Winter Olympic preparation

5 to start your day

Owl found dead in South Surrey draws concern, Vancouver promoter bans Nazi symbols at shows and more

Calgary Flames thump Vancouver Canucks 6-1

Mark Giordano, Sam Bennett lead the way as Flames thump Canucks 6-1

Light snow, cold temps called for just before Christmas in Metro Vancouver

Snow melting Tuesday but back on Thursday, as mercury drops

Homicide detectives now probing billionaire couple’s death

Police release cause of death of Barry and Honey Sherman as “ligature neck compression”

‘Case not made’ for Liberal bill’s problematic cyberspy powers

The Liberal government’s ill-defined plan to give Canada’s cyberspy agency wide-ranging powers to go on the attack against threats could trample civil liberties

Most Read