Mining is a risky business, especially for light vehicles.

A 2016 WA government report that looked at vehicle collisions in the state’s mining industry revealed that smaller vehicles were involved in 20% of reported accidents and collisions. And when the other vehicle involved is a haul truck or loader, the light vehicle rarely escapes in one piece. That makes visibility for these vehicles around a mine site not only a strict government regulation, but an urgent safety priority to protect property and lives.

A NSW Department of Planning and Environment guideline on mine safety states several methods to improve the visibility of smaller vehicles (see section 11.9.5 if you’re interested in a little light reading).

Among those recommendations: “high visibility buggy whips or flagged aerials”.

A Must-Have On-Site And Off-Road

Go to any mining site around Australia today, and you’ll see the humble vehicle safety flag pole (otherwise known as a buggy whip or vehicle warning whip) on practically every light vehicle around the site.

The “mechanism” of the flag pole, bobbing about with either a reflective flag, pennant, or LED lighting, is simple: it warns others (especially heavy vehicle drivers) that a light vehicle is in the vicinity.

Typically, the flag pole is constructed from fibreglass so it’s strong and flexible enough to survive the conditions of a mine site, then wrapped in a PVC coating for extra protection. However, the flag pole does have one important limit: vehicles can generally go no faster than 30-40km/hr with a safety flag attached, otherwise they risk snapping the pole or damaging the roof of the vehicle (from the violently bouncing flag pole).

Of course, you may have seen the safety flag pole used outside of mines, as sand flags are a common accessory for 4WD “offroaders” who hit the desert dunes. In fact, a sand flag is mandatory for any vehicle driving through the Simpson Desert.

On-site, the vehicle safety flag continues to be a mainstay of mining safety measures, mostly because they’re so affordable, simple-to-use and effective (all of which help to meet government compliance, not to mention any rules the site itself has around vehicle visibility).

Not All Vehicle Safety Flag Poles Are Equal

If you were to lay two safety flag poles next to each other, they may look near-identical. After all, a pole is a pretty simple object, right? Well, not quite.

There are two good reasons why not all flag poles are equal:

1. Since different mine sites set their own safety regulations for visibility and safety, pre-manufactured vehicle safety flag poles may or may not meet those regulations.
2. The quality of flag poles can vary greatly. Some cheaper poles might snap on the first day, while better-quality poles can survive for years in harsh conditions.

So even while a site may need vehicle safety flag poles, it’s not necessarily as simple as buying from the first supplier you come across. These two factors can heavily influence which flag pole ends up being used.

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If you need help sourcing top-quality, site-compliant flag poles to equip your light vehicles with, get in touch with us today.