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Feb. 15, 2001

Updated rules to protect flaggers taking effect

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries has updated worker safety rules to help employers protect traffic control flaggers from hazards at construction sites.

The new rules, effective Feb. 28, 2001, were adopted at the direction of the Legislature under authority of the "Kim Vendl" bill, legislation named for the 45-year-old Marysville woman who was struck from behind and killed while flagging at a construction project in Mill Creek in 1999.

The updated requirements for protecting traffic control flaggers are contained in the agency's construction standard. The department has developed a PowerPoint slide presentation to educate employers and workers on the new standard. The presentation can be accessed from the agency's website at: www.lni.wa.gov/wisha/topics/flagger.htm

A key change is that "performance-based" compliance has been written into portions of the requirements. This means that instead of specifying how and what employers must do to comply, the updated rule states the requirement and allows the employer to decide how best to meet the requirement. This approach provides the employer with more flexibility to ensure that flaggers are protected from roadside hazards.

For example, a key legislative requirement was to prevent flaggers from being struck from behind. Instead of requiring the use of a specific device or procedure, the rule simply directs employers that when it is not possible to position flaggers so they are not exposed to traffic or equipment approaching them from behind, they must develop a method to ensure that flaggers have adequate warning and are protected. Although the rule contains non-mandatory suggestions for accomplishing this requirement, employers have discretion in determining how to best comply.

Other new requirements include:

  • On-site orientations.
  • On-site traffic control plans.
  • High visibility clothing during daylight hours.
  • High visibility clothing during hours of darkness.
  • High visibility clothing during snow and fog conditions.

In addition, employers must ensure that when flaggers are used:

  • Flagger workstations are illuminated at night, except during an emergency.
  • Warning signs reflect conditions of the work zone.
  • Flaggers are not assigned other duties while flagging.
  • Flaggers do not use devices (cell phones, pagers, radio headphones, etc.) that can distract their vision, hearing or attention.
  • Flaggers receive appropriate breaks from flagging so they can remain attentive and alert.
  • A three-sign advanced warning sequence is used on roadways with speed limits below 45 miles per hour.
  • A four-sign advanced warning sequence is used on roadways where speed limits exceed 45 miles per hour or more.

The updated rules also can be accessed from the L&I website, downloaded and printed. Hard copies may be obtained by contacting Lori Warren 360-902-4622 or by e-mail at warl235@lni.wa.gov

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