Flagging, Equipment and Proceedures
Flagging is a very important and demanding job whether it be in a work zone, during utility installation or repair, or during an emergency road hazard situation. Flaggers should only be used when required to control traffic. Flaggers protect workers, emergency repair and rescue personnel, and the traveling public. It is unfortunate and sometimes disastrous that too often flagging is assigned to unmotivated or untrained people. Supervisors may assume that everyone knows how to flag when, in fact, road workers need to be trained to be effective flaggers.
Flaggers need the proper attitude, the proper equipment; and proper training. Proper attitude includes being:
To maintain attention level and alertness, it is important to relieve flaggers regularly. Flagging shifts should not last more than two hours.
- Stop-slow paddle (preferred) or red flag (in emergency situations)
- High visibility vest or jacket. Orange, yellow, and yellow green are allowed for flagger clothing. Retroreflective material is required for flagging at night. ANSI / ISEA Class II vest, or better, shall be worn by flaggers.
- Suitable clothes/footwear
- Two-way radio to communicate between flaggers if hand signals will not work
- Orange hard hat
- Air horn or whistle to warn other workers if a driver does not stop
- "FLAGGER AHEAD" sign and other work zone traffic control devices prescribed by the MUTCD
- Flagging stations shall be illuminated at night
The stop/slow paddle is the preferred device and should be used wherever practicable.
The signal flag should be used only in emergency situations, in cases where control with a single flagger makes the use of a stop/slow paddle impractical, or at locations where speeds and/or volumes are low. Many local agencies still use flags to control traffic. New equipment should include the recommended stop/slow paddles.
The first rule of flagging is do not stand in the travel lane! The proper place to stand in order to stop traffic is at the right shoulder of the road. That way, if the driver doesn't see the signal to stop or slow down, the flagger won't get hit. Flaggers should always have an escape route. It is preferable for drivers to hit traffic cones and stop in the buffer area than to hit the flagger. Make sure that the sight distance is long enough to allow drivers time to see and react.
It is important to train all flaggers to adhere to standard signals. Non-standard actions will confuse drivers.
To Stop Traffic
- Stand on the edge of the road facing traffic
- Hold up your left hand palm outward, like a Police Officer
- Hold the paddle out away from your body, the STOP side toward traffic
- If you are using a flag, hold it out horizontally. Do not wave the flag! It confuses drivers. Make eye contact with the driver
- If necessary, after the first car has stopped you may go to the center of the road to stop succeeding cars.
- If two flaggers are working, use a two-way radio or hand signal to tell the other flagger that your traffic is stopped. Do not use the flag to signal.
To Release Traffic
- After receiving the signal from the other flagger, step back to the shoulder of the road, turn your paddle to SLOW (or drop flag by your side).
- With your free hand, motion traffic to proceed.
- Do not wave the flag! It confuses drivers.
To make sure drivers see your flagger, remember these tips. Flaggers should...
- Be dressed appropriately
- Wear a clean, regulation vest
- Stand alone, away from other people
- Face traffic and make eye contact with drivers
- Be alert and pay attention
Make sure that flaggers have a good escape route in case a driver fails to stop. After they get out of the way, they can use an air horn to alert the other workers.