Safety at the Gap
LEESA Pick has had her fair share of rough days at work.
If it’s not a near-miss from an out-of-control driver, it might be sleet and rain – or worse still, cloud patches which make it impossible to see five metres in front of you.
But the stop-go traffic control team leader at Cunningham’s Gap, who has been in the line of work for three years, says there is no better thing.
“I used to be in hospitality, building and in the pub, but I got sick of being behind bars,” she said.
“The best thing about this is being outdoors – it’s great, even when you’ve got bad conditions.
“There are really great people we work with and it’s a great challenge when we do bigger jobs – you watch the project from start to finish. It’s a great job for people who want to get outside and work.”
But being outside means traffic controllers have to put up with the elements of weather; and with a base like Cunningham’s Gap, there is no shortage of changed conditions.
Yesterday, Miss Pick and the traffic controllers were preparing for huge wind gusts of up to 120km/hr.
“We’re making sure our signs are stable, strapping down the speed signs and making sure there are extra sand bags,” she said.
“We also need extra spills kits around in case there is any water or diesel spills. People tend to drive a bit erratically in the different weather conditions.”
Cold winds and high altitudes couple to create freezing conditions, and standing immobile for hours at a time can be tough.
“I’ve been (at Cunningham’s Gap) since mid-October and I used to do night shift,” Miss Pick said.
“But because of the cold conditions I got sick and my doctor said I had to change, so I do day shifts now.
“The coldest day we had was minus 2 degrees, and the wind chill took it down to minus 8.”
The traffic controllers prepare for the cold by wearing thermals provided by their company, Evolution Traffic Control, and generally trying to keep the blood flowing.
Though it isn’t the harsh weather that is the most testing for stop-go traffic controllers, Miss Pick said. It was the motorists.
“Most truck drivers are fantastic and friendly,” she said.
“The most difficult thing is people who don’t obey the speed limits – motorists are unpredictable and impatient, and many of them ignore the slow down signs.
Miss Pick said she had a close call with one utility driver while working at Indooroopilly and said it was incredible no-one was injured when it sped through the road works.
“But our job is to keep traffic flowing and make sure the road works people can do their work – and these guys are doing a great job.”