Flaggers threaten rally after another worker injured
Construction zone flaggers in B.C. say that unsafe drivers are not following rules, and workers are paying with their lives.
B.C. flaggers are making a plea with drivers to slow down after a woman was the latest traffic control person to be injured early Sunday around 2:30 a.m.
"‘The driver drove right through the cones and hit her," said Diane Herback, spokeswoman for B.C. flaggers. The woman was taken to hospital and released with minor injuries. Police say that alcohol and speed may have been factors in the collision.
"Drivers don't care. They speed, talk on their cell phones, and drink and drive. Her physical injuries may not have been serious but she was very traumatized," Herback said. In July, another flagger wasn't as lucky. He was struck and killed by a speeding car at a Mission construction zone.
Donna Freeman from WorkSafe BC told ctvbc.ca Tuesday that in 2009 17 flaggers were injured on the job and two of those people lost their lives as a result.
For Herback, that's 17 flaggers too many. She says the RCMP needs to do more to protect their safety. She suggests police increase their presence or install radars in order to enforce the double fine for speeding in a construction zone.
But construction zones aren't safe for police either. On Aug. 11, a police officer was attempting to flag down a car that was speeding in a construction zone on Highway 99 in Richmond when he was hit by another vehicle. He was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Metro Vancouver RCMP say that more enforcement could help protect flaggers but there isn't enough manpower to keep up with the increase in construction in B.C.
Herback says that isn't good enough and if the police won't take action, flaggers will.
"The public needs to realize that we have a lot of power. We could shut a bridge down in about 10 minutes," she said. The flaggers have also started a Facebook group called FLAGGERS AGAINST SPEEDERS. The 117 members of the group use it to discuss safety issues and possible public demonstrations.
One thing the RCMP and flaggers can agree on however is that drivers need to slow down and pay attention in construction zones.
"Every month another flagger is hit," Herback said. "Speed is the number one factor."