Flagger Job Description
Drivers might curse road construction traffic, but they need to take a moment to thank those who keep cars moving around these construction sites. These workers are known as flaggers, and it’s their job to maintain traffic flow when lanes are closed for emergency or maintenance repairs. Flaggers use knowledge of traffic safety and flow to direct vehicles around work sites. They work in all kinds of weather and often stand for long periods of time. Flaggers should be attentive and display strong communication and observation skills. They work mainly for construction companies or local departments of transportation. They might also be employed by temp agencies specializing in construction labor. This is typically a seasonal job, with long hours required during the spring and summer months when road construction is particularly common.
Flagger Duties and Responsibilities
Specific job duties for flaggers vary based on their employer. However, there are several core tasks common to all flaggers, such as:
Direct Vehicles Around Road Construction Sites
Flaggers use hand signals and signs to stop and direct traffic at construction sites. They typically use large direction signs to tell drivers when to stop or proceed slowly. Flaggers might also answer questions about detours.
Communicate with Other Flaggers and Construction Personnel
Using radios, flaggers communicate with other flaggers positioned at different spots along the construction site. This helps them coordinate two-way traffic on single-lane roads. They might also contact members of the construction crew to alert them to any traffic concerns that might impact their work or safety.
Place Traffic Cones and Construction Signs
Flaggers set up traffic cones and signs at and around road construction sites. These signs include detour signs, Road Work Ahead signs, End Road Work signs, and Road Closed signs. Flaggers also retrieve all cones and signs at the end of the workday as directed.
Record Information About Disobedient Drivers
It’s up to flaggers to observe and record any details about drivers who fail to obey construction signs, speed limits, or other directions. They submit this information to site supervisors or, if possible, law enforcement officers.
Flagger Skills and Qualifications
If you can stand for long periods of time and have excellent communication skills and a mind for safety, then you could make a good flagger. Employers also prefer candidates who display the following skills:
- Physical fitness - in addition to standing for long periods, flaggers must be able to carry and lift equipment as needed
- Mechanical skills - flaggers must know how to use electronic safety and traffic control devices
- Communication skills - when providing directions and safety instructions, verbal communication skills are critical. Familiarity with nonverbal communication methods such as hand signals, signs, and other devices is equally important
- Organization skills - setting up cones and maintaining traffic patterns around construction sites requires that flaggers possess strong organization skills
- Interpersonal skills - the ability to greet drivers and pedestrians with a friendly, outgoing manner and to interact with a diverse population is essential
- Self-motivation - flaggers should be able to conduct traffic control with little to no supervision during the course of the day
Flagger Education and Training
This role has no formal education requirements beyond a high school diploma. However, a flagger must have certification, usually through the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), in order to work in this position. Most companies also have their own training programs for flaggers.
Flagger Salary and Outlook
As reported by PayScale, flaggers earn a median hourly wage of $12.17. Those earning in the lowest 10th percentile are paid $9.76 per hour, while those earning at the top of the pay scale realize an hourly wage of about $22.50. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that construction laborers working in highway, street, and bridge construction are paid an annual mean salary of just over $44,000.
The BLS predicts a 13 percent employment growth rate for construction helpers, including flaggers, through 2026. The continued need to repair and replace the country’s infrastructure will increase demand for these workers. However, all construction trades are affected by economic fluctuations that could negatively impact this projection.
Feel like you’re driven to work as a flagger? If so, you might want to explore more details about this occupation, which you can do by accessing the links we’ve provided below:
American Traffic Safety Services Association – since 1966, ATSSA has provided safety training, certification, and advocacy for flaggers and others involved in traffic safety
Work Zone Safety Guidelines Handbook – this short spiral-bound book uses illustrations and tables to review safety practices that flaggers and other construction personnel should know when repairing roads, bridges, and other structures
Traffic Control Insider – hosted by Flagger Force Traffic Control Services, this blog discusses industry news and trends such as technology and safety planning practices
On the Move – published electronically by Flagger Force, this quarterly publication provides information about traffic control and safety and includes interviews with transportation and traffic industry leaders
Flagger Blog – use this blog to review safety tips, best practices, and the importance of flaggers at road construction sites
National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse – here you can access online articles, pamphlets, brochures, videos, and other resources covering flagger safety equipment, training, procedures, and certification
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