Despite using warning signs, reflective clothing and other visual signals to alert drivers of changing road conditions, there are still accidents in our work zones. The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse reports that out of the 799 work-zone fatalities reported in 2017, 132 were workers. The fact that 60% of drivers admit they have used their phone at least once while behind the wheel is even more unsettling; it amounts to 69 million distracted drivers on the road on any given day.
On top of distracted driving, flaggers face another set of challenges. Traffic management services provider Area Wide Protective (AWP) wanted to take additional steps to help their flaggers combat the extreme temperatures and fatigue flaggers experience from standing on the hard roadway surfaces. For the past year and a half, the organization has been evaluating and providing feedback for the prototype of a new product, StandGard Base Temporary Portable Standing Assistant.
StandGard Base from PSS is designed to improve worker efficiency, visibility and safety. The product serves as a tangible location demarcation for flaggers, which makes it easy to maintain an appropriate amount of space between the worker and live traffic. The temporary portable standing assistant also combats the common issue of “flagger drift” or “wandering flagger syndrome” (where the flagger unintentionally moves out of their required position at the beginning of the flagging taper or across from the termination taper) by providing them with a clearly defined “home base.”
Outdoor workers, especially flaggers, who remain in a stationary position for hours can experience additional fatigue from the hard surface, which a temporary portable standing assistant combats using an anti-fatigue mat. The mats are easily replaced once they wear out over time.
Flaggers also are susceptible to excessive heat in hot weather and lose significant body heat in cool weather. The standing assistant reduces the transference of heat between the worker and the street, sidewalk or parking lot surface by up to 84% when compared to shoes alone.
Featuring a safety orange polyurea coating, StandGard also has a strip of conspicuity tape on two sides. These visibility features make it applicable for both daytime and nighttime projects. The integrated relief handle is designed to easily transport the product from jobsite to jobsite.
All in all, feedback on StandGard Base Temporary Portable Standing Assistant was positive. AWP was impressed with the durability of the product, especially with it weighing in at less than 5 lb. They also noted that after more than a year of use, each sample had very few signs of wear. Flaggers who utilized the mat felt less fatigued at the end of their shifts and were less affected by heat and the cold. As the flaggers were elevated by approximately 2 in. when using these devices, AWP’s flaggers also felt more visible to road users. Several of their suggestions were incorporated into the final version of the product.