New training offered to SHCA members helps construction crews communicate more effectively with motorists
By Martin Charlton Communications
Motorists who are patient and cautious while driving through a work zone are appreciated and necessary.
So, too, is the training that Wade Hoffman provides to heavy construction employees, who are taught to communicate with drivers as they pass through a work zone while also learning all the other information they need to be effective traffic accommodation supervisors (TAS) in work zones.
Hoffman is the lead instructor at Traffic Training and Consulting (TTAC), his own business that is working with the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association (SHCA) to make members aware of his training. His own course is in work zones, and he will provide the Heavy Construction Safety Association (HCSAS)’s course in flagging.
Clearly communicating with motorists can make them less hazardous as they use the route established for them to transport people and goods through the area. Hoffman says the brightly colored personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as the signs in a work zone are a few ways to communicate necessary information to drivers.
“We’re putting ourselves in harm’s way by being out in traffic,” said Hoffman. “The only way to try and protect ourselves is to let the traffic know that we’re there. So that first sign tells them we’re there.
“The rest of the information is asking the motorists to slow down, change lanes, stop – whatever we need them to do so that we can get the work done safely and that they can travel through the work zone safely and not have any incidents.”
He sees this training as relevant to anyone involved in road construction, whether they work on a provincial highway, a municipal road or for a Crown corporation.
Any heavy construction company working on a provincial highway must have a TAS on the work site and that person must have a current training certificate from a vendor approved by the Ministry of Highways. It is a condition of their contract with the ministry. The ministry has issued a detailed list of course objectives that the training is expected to deliver. Someone working in traffic accommodation supervision must update their training every five years.
Those working on municipal roads don’t have that same requirement, but Hoffman sees a benefit to them being trained with a similar program developed for their needs. That is something he can offer.
“The fundamentals are all the same. You just get into a few different logistics,” said Hoffman.
The person acting as the TAS can vary from company to company, Hoffman explains. In one company, it could be the foreman of the crew. In another company, it may be the person running the water truck because they have the time in their day to check the signage between loads of water.
Larger companies could have a role exclusively handling traffic accommodation supervision with that person responsible for monitoring signage, supervising flag people and handling related documentation. Sending more than one person from a company for the training provides the employer some flexibility because they have someone to fill in if their primary person gets sick or needs to be away from work for some other reason.
During the training, Hoffman teaches participants what they need to know about the law, their responsibilities and their authority under the law.
“We go through the Ministry of Highways manual, so everybody is aware of the information,” said Hoffman.
Some more of what he covers includes occupational health and safety matters as it relates to the TAS as well as traffic control plans that are to be developed to protect workers.
“The last half of the manual is the sign plans and they’re generic – typical situation plans that are supposed to be modified,” said Hoffman.
He then gives participants the opportunity to apply that knowledge to a situation they could encounter on the job.
“I bring in some fairly complicated scenarios, have them walk through [those] and get them to learn how to do a sign plan. [Then, I] give them some guidance as to how to set it up safely,” said Hoffman.
He wants those taking his training to understand what they are trying to accomplish so that they can determine if they have succeeded. He recognized this was missing in most training programs when he began to provide training.
“I try to give them working knowledge and understanding so that they can take the principles and apply them in any situation that they come into,” said Hoffman. “Hopefully this training will equip them better out in the field so they’re not just trying to memorize stuff and apply it, but actually understand it and then apply it.”
Zero incidents are not the only measure of success. From Hoffman’s perspective, motorists should be able to pass through the work zone efficiently, with that being another indicator of success. This is a perspective he developed as he gained experience through various roles with the Ministry of Highways and worked with people with different perspectives – not just in Saskatchewan, but throughout North America and even Australia.
“If a motorist feels that they’ve been taken care of, they’re a lot more compliant with what we’re asking them to do. They do slow down more. They do pay attention more going through the work zone,” said Hoffman. “It works best for everybody. It will hopefully keep the motorists happier, but it’s also safer for us in the work zone.”
He also helps those in his training to understand how to verify their due diligence through documentation. Being able to effectively document their thought process when determining their plan will benefit them if they are audited or investigated, he explains.
The day-and-a-half of training concludes with a quiz. Those who complete the training successfully receive a certificate as well as a card for their wallet.
Hoffman is flexible about where and when he provides the training. It is typical for construction companies to want their employees to participate in training after the new year but ahead of the construction season in the summer. He can travel within the province to meet with groups who invite him. He is also set up to provide training to those who travel to Regina for scheduled dates. He can work with larger employers who want him to provide their team’s training at their workplace. He can even provide training on weekdays or weekends, depending on the need of employers.
To find out about registering for Hoffman’s training – either the flagging course or the work zone course – he can be contacted by phone at 306-537-9648 or by email at email@example.com.
Martin Charlton Communications is the largest public relations company in Saskatchewan and one of the largest in western Canada.