ATSSA flagger training: The importance of being certified
How knowing the standards helps the ‘first line of defense’ protect all roadway workers
ATSSA's flagger training courses have been teaching individuals how to be safe and effective flaggers for nearly 50 years. These courses help trainees understand why proper flagger operations are essential, identify standard flagger control references, and learn standard flagger practices for many situations—both expected and unexpected.
While the association has taken great strides to provide and adequately train individuals across the country, there still are infrequencies when it comes to having consistent standards on a national scale.
“From coast to coast, we see flaggers who need training. The fewer gaps and inexperience you have with flagging, the more lives you will save,” said ATSSA Master Instructor and association member Brad Henry. “We've seen everything from workers not being at their station, to not paying attention to traffic, and even using the wrong equipment. Flaggers are our first line of defense in the work zone for our roadway workers, and a safe work zone starts with being certified and properly trained.”
ATSSA Master Instructor and President of J.M. Morales & Associates Juan Morales said taking the four-hour class to become a certified flagger not only keeps all individuals safe in a work zone, but it prepares them for the unexpected.
“Flagging is so much more than just flipping a paddle. It's about the 'what ifs,'” Morales said. “When I'm instructing, we go over unexpected events that occur in roadway work zones. What if the car doesn't stop? What if there is an ambulance? What if I don't have the right equipment? What if I have an angry driver?”
Morales said that some jurisdictions simply have individuals watch a video to become certified flaggers. There is no active participation or proof that they learned the standards and best practices. ATSSA's flagger certification program involves face-to-face (or instructor-led) training and proving that the proper flagger signals, skills and practices were learned, through both a dexterity demonstration and a written exam.
“After formal training, you become more demanding in the sense that you want to ensure you have the right equipment and everything is properly set up and your fellow roadway workers are following protocol,” Morales said. “The exam is another component that protects from litigation because it proves they know better. A lot of times people will not pay enough attention to the video and not retain any information, but with the exam, we know they are walking away knowing the standards and how to conduct themselves in a work zone.”
ATSSA Director of Training Jessica Scheyder said while there are some issues with flaggers not being adequately trained or certified, the association will continue to provide the highest-quality flagging training and promote the importance of obtaining certification.
“This all comes down to making our roadways safer,” Scheyder said. “We want help to ensure roadway workers are adequately trained and know what to do in a work zone and that starts with becoming certified.”
For more information on ATSSA Training, visit www.atssa.com/Training.