Submitted photo A total of 21 roadside workers were injured last year, according to a recent report from WorkSafeBC, while one person died.

Flaggers brace for careless driving across BC

  • Jun. 21, 2017 1:30 a.m.

Sarina Hanschke was directing traffic at a Lower Mainland construction zone one morning when a driver threw a hot coffee at her.

On another shift, a passenger in a car opened their door while the vehicle was in motion and hit her.

Roadwork projects are ramping up across the region as the weather heats up, and if Hanschke’s stories say anything, so will commuters’ reckless and startling behaviour as they drive through construction zones.

“It’s incredibly alarming to see this kind of behaviour,” says Hanschke, 29, tcp quality assurance for the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance. “Traffic, at the end of the day, is an uncontrollable hazard.”

These kinds of incidents make up her job as traffic control person, or flagger – a job she’s had since she was 18.

They represent the multitude of near misses hidden behind every worker who gets injured, or worse.

A total of 21 roadside workers were injured last year, according to a recent report from WorkSafeBC, while one person died.

How do you persuade people to drive carefully through construction zones, when all they want to do is get home after a long day on the job?

Public awareness campaigns have zeroed in on the fact that the workers are mothers, fathers and people’s children.

Hanschke says workers do their best to look out for each other, but the responsibility falls substantially on the flagger to see what’s up ahead.

Flaggers look out for any safety hazards amid the flow of cars and behind each steering wheel, she says, but things can still be unpredictable.

She says cement barricades can shield workers for long-term construction projects. But for short-term work, employees are usually protected by road cones, which can’t do much to deter a wayward car.

“At the end of the day, we’re at the mercy of the public,” Hanschke says.

Her now-retired dad worked in construction as long as she can remember, and her brother is also in the industry.

“I never realized how significant it was that my dad made it home safe every day until I was out there and had seen first-hand some of the behaviours that significantly impact your ability to do your job safely,” she said.

“If we can get one person to really second-guess and consider and slow down for that person working on the roadside … it forces the 10, 15, 20 cars behind them to slow down and pay a little bit more attention.”

Just Posted

Local area D-Day survivor is 100 yrs on Feb. 5

Stewart Ray is “like a cat with 9 lives, except he’s on at least his 3rd set of 9 lives”

WWII Veteran’s 70th year residing in Fort St. James

J.K. Johnson moved here from Calgary in 1947 and never looked back

“Persian Plenty” quilt fit for a queen

Fort St. James quilter Mona French is almost finished building her magnificent… Continue reading

Community Foundation showcases “777 Challenge” trophy

The 777 Challenge is one way to donate to the Fort St.… Continue reading

VIDEO: Government approves funding of $750,000 drug for B.C. woman

Approval comes one day after province announces funding for Soliris on a case-by-case basis

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

VIDEO: Government approves funding of $750,000 drug for B.C. woman

Approval comes one day after province announces funding for Soliris on a case-by-case basis

B.C. boy’s social media bid to get levidrome in the Oxford dictionary goes viral

‘It’s been five weeks and has totally blown up today.’

Whistler venues could see 2026 Olympic action

Calgary is looking to cut down on costs

Michael Buble announced as 2018 Juno host in Vancouver

Awards will celebrate Canadian talent in March

BC Hydro issues storm safety tips

Bulletin indicates “electrical contact incidents resulting in serious injury are on the rise.”

B.C. flaggers rally after colleague struck in Okanagan

Traffic Control Personnel respond to colleague being hit in Lavington

UPDATE: Washington Governor Jay Inslee visits B.C.

Premier John Horgan talks trains, trade with southern neighbour

Viral video shows deer killed on Snapchat in Campbell River

RCMP say they have identified those involved and are working with conservation officers

Most Read