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OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.
January 4, 2011
Mrs. Lucy B. Skinger
17 Thornbush Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109
Re: Concern about unclear traffic directing at highway construction areas and general information about what laws to follow when the normal traffic control of a roadway is suspended
Dear Mrs. Skinger:
This is in response to your letter dated June 20, 2008, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concerning hand signals used by police officers in temporary traffic control zones and traffic control. We apologize for the delay in responding.
In your letter you suggest the development of a uniform federal requirement that workers engaged in construction traffic wear high-visibility gloves or use a high-visibility paddle to direct traffic.
The Department of Transportation's Federal Highway (FHA) publishes a document titled the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD sets requirements for traffic control devices nationally. The controls include signals, barricades and other controls for use on the nation's roadways. The MUTCD is available electronically on the internet at: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2003r1r2/pdf_index.htm.
Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require employers on highway construction sites to comply with the signaling requirements of Part VI of the MUTCD with regard to their employees.
Part VI of the MUTCD contains requirements for control of traffic in temporary control zones including highway construction areas. There are two hand signal methods allowed on construction sites. Chapter 6E of the MUTCD provides information about these two methods. The "preferred method" is for the flagger to use an octagonal STOP/SLOW paddle. The paddle width is to be at least 18 inches and it is to be mounted on a long pole. The background of the STOP side of the paddle is shown as red with a white border, and the word "STOP" is shown in white. The background of the SLOW side of the paddle is shown as an orange diamond shape surrounded by a black area between the outside of the diamond and the octagonal edges of the sign and shows the word "SLOW" in black.
The second method is used during "emergency situations." In an emergency situation, the flagger uses a square red flag with dimensions of 24 x 24 inches. The flag is attached to a staff or handle that has an overall length of 36 inches.
The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required employers on highway construction sites to comply with the signaling requirements of Part VI of the MUTCD with regard to their employees.
In 29 CFR 1926 subpart G (Signs, Signals, and Barricades), 1926.201(Signaling) states:
(a) Flaggers. Signaling by flaggers and the use of flaggers, including warning garments worn by flaggers shall conform to Part VI of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, (1988 Edition, Revision 3 or the Millennium Edition) , which are incorporated by reference in §1926.200(g)(2).
We hope that the previous information that we provided addressing you particular issue be beneficial. If you need additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.
James G. Maddux, Director
Directorate of Construction