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

B.C.’s north heats up to record highs

Bella Bella, Masset, Prince Rupert and the Cassiar Area all broke records

Special prosecutor appointed in Burns Lake mayor sex assault case

Luke Strimbold has been charged with numerous sex related charges

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C.-pioneered wood construction on a roll internationally

Washington state considers mandatory engineered wood for public buildings

Cops say gun-toting robbers used fake police lights to pull over victims

Information wanted on North Shuswap robbery, police impersonation, burnt vehicle, motorhome theft.

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles and Powell River Kings close to advancing

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Plane filled with smoke lands at Nanaimo Airport

WestJet flight came in from Vancouver

VSO to perform ‘Star Wars’ music while 1977 movie plays on big screen

Three shows for the classic at iconic Orpheum Theatre this summer

B.C. emergency alert system being tested Wednesday

Alarm tone and message will play on TV and radio

BC Conservatives pumped by poll results

Surge in popularity has BC party picturing elected representatives in Victoria

Most Read