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Construction Zone Safety: Lane Closures & Flagging Procedures

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has issued a number of rules concerning construction zone safety.  Since they are charged with making these dangerous areas safer, the administration has created procedures and guidelines for almost everything that can happen in these areas.  In the event of lane closures, they have outlined the appropriate flagging procedures.  By following OSHA’s procedures and using the right traffic safety equipment, workers can be assured of the best construction zone safety.

The closed lane must be clearly marked with a product like a breakaway barricade.  Then, there must also be a flagger who can help to channel the traffic through the area.  If they are properly trained, the flagger should know how to give clear messages to drivers in a time frame that allows the drivers enough time and distance to react safely, and of course, must work well with other flaggers.  Once they are trained, a flagger must have the right traffic safety equipment to do their job correctly.

They must wear clothing and a hat that is brightly colored and visible to oncoming motorists.  They can use paddles or flags, but these should be retro-reflective or illuminated if they are working at night.  To reduce fatigue and discomfort, a flagger can use a self-supporting lightweight stop/slow paddle that provides 360-degree rotation.

OSHA mandates that flaggers follow different procedures based on the type of lane closure that they are working near.  For instance, if they are working on a low volume two-lane road, they may work alone without another flagger, but they must be visible to traffic approaching from either direction.  They may also work in conjunction with channelizing devices that direct the traffic in the right direction.

OSHA has detailed different procedures depending upon the number of lanes in the road and the volume of traffic.  As long as a construction zone uses the best traffic safety equipment, trains their flaggers well, and follows the steps outlined by OSHA, they can be assured of having adequate construction zone safety.