Protect Our Traffic Controllers

Yesterday, 30th November 2016, a traffic controller was struck by lightning at a worksite on the Gold Coast during an electrical storm.

According to news reports she was holding a “metal pole” that attracted the lightning.

From my vast experience both as a traffic controller as well as traffic manager on many major road projects, I would assume that she was working on a road and for the safety of the general public, she would not be in a position to abandon her position, or stop holding her “Stop/Slow” baton. I would further assume, due to the report that she was holding a metal pole. her baton was an aluminium adjustable pole supplied by her employer.

Adjustable aluminium poles are preferred by the traffic control industry due to ability for them to be collapsed to a size that can be transported in the boot of a car etc.(the height of the sign by regulations should be 1.8 m above the ground)

Non-traffic control companies (councils etc) generally use the non adjustable wooden handle type.

On projects that I managed the traffic controllers directly, I ensured that wooden poled batons were issued to all the traffic controllers under my direct control along with the more convenient metal poles. The instruction was “In case of the possibility of lightning, the use of aluminium poles was banned” At times when we supplemented the company employed traffic controllers with employees of traffic companies, we made some of our wooded pole available to them.

Please …. traffic control companies, come up with a better solution than having your employees exposed to lightning strikes. e.g. examine the possibility  of a hinged or two part pole. Increased expense or inconvenience should not compromise safety.

Regularity authorities should also look at this issue.

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