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Navigating the Storm: Flagging in Extreme Weather Conditions

Traffic flagging is a cornerstone of traffic control, ensuring vehicles’ safe passage through construction zones and roadwork areas. Effective flagging demands vigilance, communication, and adaptability. However, when extreme weather conditions strike, new challenges arise. In this article, we’ll explore the weather obstacles flaggers face and explore discuss strategies to mitigate the associated risks.

Pennsylvania is subjected to a diverse range of meteorological challenges throughout the year, making it necessary for Summit to develop safety protocols for a range of conditions. The Commonwealth often faces significant snowfall, ice storms, and freezing temperatures in winter. These conditions can lead to hazardous road conditions, school closures, and disruptions to transportation systems.

During the spring and summer, Pennsylvania is prone to severe thunderstorms, including lightning and hail. Flash flooding is also a common concern, particularly in areas with poor drainage or near rivers and streams. 

In the fall, PA often experiences heavy rainfall and windstorms, which can lead to flooding and fallen trees. Our state’s climate presents a wide range of challenges throughout the year, so Summit stays vigilant and trains all our staff on procedures that minimize the impact of weather-related risks.

Traffic Flagging in Extreme Heat

Although Pennsylvania enjoys the cooler climes of the Allegheny Mountains, high temperatures combined with high humidity can increase the risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Because summer is the busiest season for flaggers, many must endure prolonged outdoor exposure. Without proper precautions, that exposure can compromise their health and impair their ability to perform their duties effectively. 

Frequent breaks are more crucial than ever when temperatures soar to prevent heat-related illnesses. Summit traffic flaggers work in short shifts to reduce heat fatigue and stay hydrated with constant access to water. Summer gear is lightweight and breathable, wicking moisture and keeping workers cooler. 

In addition to summer safety training, flaggers stay in continual communication with drivers and other flaggers to ensure everyone stays hydrated, healthy, and safe.,

Traffic Flagging in Winter Weather

Eastern Pennsylvania is often subject to brutally cold winter weather. When the mercury plunges, Summit traffic flaggers are ready to meet a different set of challenges. Extended time in cold weather carries the threat of hypothermia and frostbite, particularly when coupled with prolonged exposure to frigid winds. Even minor cold can impair manual dexterity and reaction time, diminishing the flagger’s ability to respond swiftly to changing traffic conditions.

In regions prone to snow and ice, traffic flaggers face hazardous road conditions in work zones that threaten the safety of both motorists and construction workers. The treacherous terrain increases the risk of slips, falls, and collisions, necessitating heightened caution and vigilance on the part of flagging personnel.

Summit traffic flaggers wear layered clothing in cold weather to provide insulation against the chill. High-visibility rain gear also makes seeing workers in snow, sleet, and winter weather easier. High-traction, waterproof footwear is used to keep workers dry and safer on icy surfaces. 

Flaggers also receive training on how to safely manage traffic in icy conditions, including how to stand and move on slippery surfaces. Clear communication with drivers and other flaggers helps everyone understand the situation and stay safe. Finally, Summit traffic flaggers take regular breaks in warm, dry areas to prevent frostbite or hypothermia.

Work Zones in Wet Weather

Pennsylvania receives over 40 forty inches of rain each year on average. Tropical storms can increase the rainfall in any given year by as much as 15 fifteen inches. Even mild rain presents yet another obstacle for flaggers. Low light and reduced visibility are safety issues for both drivers and flagging personnel. Rain, mist, or fog can obscure road markings and signage, making it difficult for drivers to navigate safely through construction zones. Furthermore, slippery conditions increase the risk of falls and accidents, heightening the danger flaggers face on duty.

While all Summit traffic flaggers have rain gear to keep them dry, impaired visibility and slips are the primary hazards in wet weather. Summit provides comprehensive training programs for slips, trips, and falls and education on the challenges of visibility in wet weather.

Staying Safe in Any Conditions

Flagging in extreme weather conditions presents a formidable challenge, requiring resilience, adaptability, and a commitment to safety. By understanding the unique challenges posed by heatwaves, cold weather, rain, and snow, Summit is able to implement strategies to mitigate these risks. We work to increase the safety and well-beings of flaggers on duty. Through proper training, appropriate attire, regular breaks, equipment maintenance, and effective communication, Summit traffic flaggers navigate the storm and keep our roads safe for all.