Health, Safety, Security and Environment

Photo of the day: Flagman and Traffic control

10 min read

 Road construction is a necessary process of development for the comfort and safety of users. Most road construction is a tidies job whereby the duration and safety are always considered very important for the construction management. One of the most crucial factors in a road construction site is the safety of the road users and the construction workers. Proper safety signs and indications systems should be utilized to ensure safety to be optimized. The most common practice of safety indication is performed by a traffic controller or also known as the flagman.

The Photo of the day outlines the roles and responsibilities of flagmen and their big roles to control the traffic which is very crucial in a road construction site in ensuring the smoothness of the road traffic operation and to alert the road users on road construction activity, in addition, the basic flagging functions that flagman will be performing

Keywords: Flagman, traffic controller, road construction site, safety at road construction, intelligent traffic light.

When FlagmenAre Needed

There are flagmen needed on all sorts of road construction and maintenance jobs across the state of Colorado. In general, flagmen are needed whenever the safety of the construction crew or the motoring public is a question. Safety questions arise whenever a traffic lane is going to be blocked, whenever an area is congested and construction equipment is going to be moved in or out of this area, and for many other reasons. Thus, flagmen are used to keep traffic moving smoothly and safely and to protect the crew members.

As a flagman, you may be working for construction companies–contractors who have submitted bids for and been retained to perform various road construction and maintenance projects. In addition, flaggers are usually needed for some projects run by public utilities, such as the telephone company or the gas company. All of these various jobs will require
the same standards of professionalism from flagmen. And, usually, the requirements, duties, and responsibilities in working for these various organizations will be the same.


City/county construction crews will be set up very much like the public utilities. Regardless of whom you work for a contractor, public utility, or the city or county, your basic responsibilities and qualifications as a flagger will remain the same. You have read earlier about these responsibilities but let’s look at them again, in more detail. ( read more about Construction Site Traffic Management Plan (CSTMP) Guidance )


It is the EMPLOYER’S RESPONSIBILITY to ensure that the flagger meets the minimum qualifications as outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).


Flagman will be responsible for

  • PROTECTING himself and his co-workers from traffic that is passing through or around a road construction or maintenance site
  • PROTECTING the traveling public from construction dangers that are present on the construction site
  • GUIDING traffic efficiently through or around a construction site
  • USING his skills and intelligence in all flagging situations
  • Flag use should be limited to emergency situations, and low-speed and/or low-volume locations, that can best be controlled by a single flagger.
  • Flags used for signaling shall be a minimum of 24 inches square made of high grade red material, and securely fastened to a staff at least 3 feet long.
  • The free edges should be weighted so that the flag will hang vertically, even in heavy winds. Night flags are required to be retroreflective red.
  • Flagger stations must be located far enough ahead of the work space, so that approaching traffic has sufficient time to stop before entering the work
  • zone. This distance should be related to variables like approach speed, friction factors, pavement type, and road conditions.
  • The flagman should stand either on the shoulder adjacent to the traffic being controlled, or in the barricaded lane. At a “spot” construction site, aposition may have to be taken on the shoulder opposite the barricaded section to operate effectively.
  • A flagman should NEVER stand in the path of oncoming traffic to give direction, but may move into the lane after the traffic has stopped, if the
  • flagman needs to communicate with the driver, or must be visible to other traffic.( Safe work site Activity for Traffic Management )


There are three basic flagging functions that flagger will be performing. he will be:

  • Stopping traffic.
  • Releasing traffic which has been stopped.
  • Slowing traffic.
  • Each of these functions will be performed differently. And there are different procedures forday and night time flagging. Let’s look a how flagman will do each of these functions.



Hold Paddles Straight-Flagman shall make sure the paddle sign is held straight up not leaning to the right or to the left. Do not wave his STOP/SLOW paddle. Make sure that the front of the “STOP” side is directly facing traffic. This way, the sign will be visible to motorists. When traffic approaches hold out his free hand/arm, above shoulder level, with his palm facing traffic.

Maintain Eye contact This is a standard “STOP” hand signal. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that his attempt to catch the driver’s eye. It will help him become more aware of what he is doing. Keep his position, and maintain eye contact until the driver comes to a complete stop. Be firm! and Make sure that the driver sees him.

Move to center-After the first vehicle has stopped, move to a clearly visible position near the center of the roadway or the left of the traveled lane. Be sure that he doesn’t move directly into traffic that may be coming the other way. Do not stand directly in front of the car you have just stopped. Remain in his “STOP” position until it is time to release your traffic to travel through the area.


Show Slow Sign- When it is safe to let traffic proceed, the flagger should move to the right of traffic and stand directly facing the traffic flow. Only then turn the “STOP/SLOW” paddle to “SLOW”. Using slow arm movements, motion for the traffic to proceed.


Hand signals- The flagman shall Face the traffic and hold the paddle upright just as he would stop traffic. Be sure that the “SLOW” portion of the paddle is facing traffic. If he needs to emphasize his position, he shall raise and lower his free arm slowly in front of him, with his palm parallel to the ground. Be sure to make eye contact with each driver. If he is only trying to warn or alert traffic to the construction ahead, but he does not need to slow the speed of the cars greatly, stand in his position on the side of the road, or in a barricaded lane facing traffic and display the “SLOW” side of his paddle


Reflectorized Equipment- Night-time flagging is a whole different ball game. Remember, everything that flagman use, vests, hard hats, paddles, or signs must be reflectorized. In addition, his flagging stand shall also be lighted. Thus, before the flagman steps out to perform his duties at night, shall make a quick check to be sure all of his equipment and required clothing is either reflectorized or has retroreflective tape on it. Also, be certain that his reflectorized material can still be seen if it becomes wet. In addition, it is a good idea to wear light-colored clothes under your vest at night. This will help him to be seen easily.


Hold Flashlight Out-The Flagman shall be sure that his flag station is lighted. Then, stand on the shoulder of the road or barricaded area facing traffic. Hold the paddle sign as he has learned for daytime flagging. he may hold his free arm out, palm facing traffic to emphasize his motion.
If he is using a flashlight or wand, hold it in his free hand, with his arm in a horizontal position. his arm should be about shoulder high. (Be sure that if he has a flashlight, that the proper 6-inch red cone has been attached.) Slowly swing the flashlight or other lighted materials in a sweeping motion across his body. Do not swing the flashlight
over your head. Keep your movements slow and deliberate and never swing the flashlight or wand above his shoulder.


Lower the Flashlight-The signal that Flagman uses to get traffic moving should be made by lowering his flashlight to his side, standing facing traffic, and motioning drivers ahead with a slow, sweeping motion of his flashlight or wand.


The flagman shall Stand in with his lighted flag station, either on the shoulder of the road or in a clearly barricaded or marked area. Using the “SLOW” side of the paddle sign, he will slow traffic. Using a flashlight or wand, face the traffic, and slowly swing the light across his body, making sure that his arm does not swing above his shoulder.

Now you can download the Infographic of Flagman and Traffic control which can be used and posted at your workplace

Download the infographic

Flagman and Traffic control

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