To safely and efficiently complete night jobs, many requirements must be met to account for the additional safety concerns that arise when working in the absence of light. The main concern with night work is that there’s reduced visibility. Though risk is reduced by performing in off-hours due to reduced traffic volume, operating in low-light situations minimizes visibility for not only the field crews in a work zone, but also for passing motorists. While traffic controllers and other workers on a job site need to see what they’re doing, the traveling public also needs to be able to see the oncoming road conditions. According the to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, temporary lighting shall be provided at all flagger stations, except in emergency situations. Street lights and car lights do not meet the requirement for illumination, so other sources of light must be present.
Floodlights are most commonly used to illuminate traffic control professionals, their flagging stations, and parts of a work zone. Though these lights are effective, they also bring with them some challenges.
CREW MEMBER ILLUMINATION
One challenge of using floodlights during a night operation is ensuring that the crew member performing the traffic control is in the correct position and is properly lit. Those under the dispersed light of the tower may not realize they’re not being seen by oncoming traffic since the ambient light is illuminating the area surrounding them—making them unaware of what the scene looks like to passersby.
To avoid bad illumination, stay mindful and stand in the center of the cascading light—be careful to not block your escape route with the light tower. If you’re too far forward or backward, you’re much harder to see from the motorists’ perspective.
LIGHT TOWER DIRECTION
Another, and probably the biggest challenge of using floodlights, is the position of the light tower itself. In no situation should a floodlight placed in a work zone be a visual hazard for the field workers or passing motorists. This makes the process of setting up the floodlights difficult, because they must be fully evaluated from every angle to ensure they are not causing a strong glare or shadowing anything that must be seen. The floodlights must not be angled toward motorists or in such a way that they “blind” passing motorists. The traveling public needs to be able to fully see the upcoming work zone, so they can comprehend the road conditions. Floodlights must also be placed in a way that the crew members are illuminated and not shadowed.
To avoid improper placement, be aware of where you are setting up and ensure the light tower is out of the roadway, not blocking the crew member’s escape route, and that it’s properly delineated.