A certified Traffic Control Flagger for Danella, Alexandra Vergara is responsible for monitoring and controlling vehicles that drive past Danella utility construction job sites – a role that assures the safety of drivers and passengers as well as crews performing infrastructure work. We talked with Alexandra – who goes by Alex – during her lunch break about her start in the industry, the challenges of flagging, and what she likes most about her role.
Alex, how long have you worked as a Traffic Control Flagger?
Before Danella, I was a flagger with a construction company for three years, and I’ve been with Danella for about eighteen months. So almost five years total.
For those who aren’t familiar with flagging, explain what you do.
If you’re ever driving and see a person in a bright vest ahead telling you you need to slow down or stop because of utility or construction work – I’m that person. As cars approach the jobsite where a Danella crew is laying gas lines, I hold up the red paddle that tells them to stop. If I’m the point person on the other end of the jobsite, I make sure cars continue at appropriate speeds past our site and back into the standard traffic flow. I’m constantly on the lookout for any traffic issues or any dangers to our crew.
How did you get started with Danella?
Prior to becoming a flagger, I was a hairdresser for twelve years. I liked that line of work, but it didn’t offer the stability or benefits I wanted. My husband heard about a flagging position. I looked into it, applied, got trained, and found that I really enjoyed it. After three years as a traffic control flagger for my first employer, I applied for this job at Danella.
What are some of the challenges of flagging?
You have to be incredibly focused. There is a lot at stake when you have moving vehicles near utility crews. Occasionally I deal with impatient drivers who honk or yell. And I do have to stand on my feet most of the day. Luckily, I was already used to standing from my work as a hairdresser.
What’s it like working outside all day?
It didn’t take me too long to get used to extreme weather. I’ve had people say to me, ‘I couldn’t stand the extreme heat and extreme cold.’ But as long as I wear the right clothes, I can tolerate it.
How long are your stints at each jobsite?
It varies. Our team is at our current jobsite for two months. We start at 7am and wrap up between 3:30 and 6pm.
Are there other female flaggers at Danella?
I’m the only female flagger right now in Connecticut, but this is a great career for anyone. I enjoy being near important utility work and learning more about it, and the importance of my role keeps me engaged and focused at all times. Everyone has been so friendly and helpful. Women are outnumbered on jobsites, yes, but as long as you’re okay with that, there’s no reason other women shouldn’t consider a flagging career.