Last May, Marie Stewart – a school crossing guard in Everett, MA – died doing what she loved: protecting children on their way to and from school.
As children in Somerville and across the state return to school, it is vitally important to highlight the importance of workplace protections that should be in place to protect crossing guards and to create safe school walking routes for children.
Recommendations issued in a 2009 report by the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health as a result of a similar fatality included:
- Developing a school route plan that meets standards in the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and Massachusetts State laws;
- Ensuring that school crosswalks are clearly visible to motorists and that crossing guards are provided with adequate equipment such as well-designed "stop" paddles, warning signage and reflective clothing that is appropriate for all seasons,
- Annual safety training.
Somerville school officials should be working now to make sure that these safety measures are in place as the school year gets underway.
Crossing guards from several communities met today with safety experts from the Massachusetts Coalition on Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) to share safety concerns and learn about what measures cities and towns are required to take to protect them while they are on the job.
"Motorists need to be reminded that we are in the street to protect the children," said Joe Lyons, a crossing guard leader with 14 years' experience in Somerville. "When you see a crossing guard, be alert because children are nearby. Understand the traffic laws regarding school buses and crosswalks – and obey them!"
"Far too many crossing guards return home from work to tell their loved ones, 'I almost got hit today,'" said Ed Grandmont, another crossing guard from Somerville. "No school crossing guard should have this fear when they go to work each day."