9/20/1999 12:00 AM
Directing traffic in a highway construction area is a dangerous job. Without adequate training, construction zone workers put not only their lives, but also the lives of coworkers and motorists at risk. Texas leads the nation in the number of people killed in traffic crashes in highway work zones.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Texas recorded 430 work zone fatalities between 1994 and 1997. Training for construction zone workers, especially flaggers, is often inadequate and/or unappealing to workers.
However, the TEEX Transportation Training Division and Communications/CIT have developed several unique training tools for the work zone traffic control courses. A reference guide, a flagger’s survival guide and a video have not only helped to spark students’ interest in the classes, but also are successfully teaching flaggers the skills they need to stay safe on the job, said transportation engineer Howard McCann, P.E.
The training tools were developed by TEEX, in conjunction with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), to make the programs more interactive and allow hands-on involvement with the students, he added. TxDOT supervisors also use the tools for training their own employees.
“We knew we should try something different with these classes,” McCann said. “Students and instructors need to interact with one another to share their experiences in an open and lively classroom environment.”
Defensive Flagging—A Survivor’s Guide and Reference Guide to Work Zone Traffic Control, are two instruction manuals designed to be taken into the field. McCann said the success of the guides can be attributed to their small size and durability. They are also filled with diagrams and working applications to meet almost any situation that may arise at the work site.
“We wanted to create job aids that students could take with them after training and use to work through problems they come across in the field,” McCann said.
Ali Steere, a communications specialist in Transportation who helped develop the reference and defensive flagging guides, said the instruction manuals are becoming increasingly popular with contractors and private organizations outside of TEEX and will soon be available in Spanish. Steere added the guidebooks are also being reworked to include national standards to accommodate the demand from organizations outside of Texas.
“We’ve found something that works well, and is one of the best instructional tools out there. Now it’s a matter of keeping up with the demand for more guides,” Steere said.
After the success of the guides, TxDOT requested a video be filmed to go along with the classroom training. The result is an authentic, how-to video that portrays what flaggers experience in the field. McCann said the genuineness of the video is causing a remarkable response in students.
“There is no substitute for excellence, and students know when a video isn’t authentic,” McCann said. “We had technical advisers present during shooting and used a combination of actual workers and actors to make the best video possible. Students see their job being performed well and feel a sense of dignity for their role.”
The video, which was completed in July, was produced by Kathy Fraser and Steve Presnal of CIT.