The importance of managing the risks associated with traffic is generally recognised within the construction industry, especially when work is undertaken on or adjacent to a road, however many non-construction businesses fail to identify the management of traffic as a risk. Recently, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) announced a campaign focussing on identifying poor traffic management systems in order to reduce the numbers of people being struck by moving traffic and mobile plant at workplaces.

Most businesses would have some vehicular traffic on their sites, whether it be cars and trucks, or mobile plant such as forklifts, industrial reach trucks, elevating work platforms, mobile cranes etc.  As such, the risks associated with these vehicles and the management of their movements, would need to be identified, assessed, evaluated and controlled.

As with all risks, organisations should start by identifying the hazards associated with traffic and the potential points of collision between people and vehicles. This can be done by considering the flows of traffic and people, and by consulting with workers about any problems they may encounter at the workplace. Control measures to eliminate or minimise the risks then need to be put in place. A number of control measures are generally needed to control the risks effectively.

The most effective way to protect pedestrians from traffic hazards is to eliminate the traffic hazard altogether. A key means of doing this is by designing the layout of the workplace to eliminate interactions between pedestrians and vehicles.

Whilst elimination is the best way to protect pedestrians, this may not always be possible and organisations should look to minimise the traffic risks.  This can be done in numerous ways:

  • Plan work to avoid or reduce the need for pedestrians and vehicles to be in the same area at the same time.
  • Implement exclusion zones such as pedestrian-only areas or forklift-only areas in loading bays.
  • Ensure delivery areas are located away from pedestrians or work activities.
  • Where there is potential for interaction of vehicles and pedestrians, provide gates or temporary barriers to separate vehicles from people.
  • Clearly mark vehicle areas with signs or reflective paint to warn pedestrians.
  • Use mirrors and vision panels in pedestrian doors entering vehicle areas.
  • Erect signage to indicate hazards such as forklift operating areas and exclusion zones as well as speed limits.
  • Ensure workers wear high visibility clothing.
  • Ensure traffic areas are well lit.
  • Ensure induction and training includes traffic management.

When identifying traffic risks, it is important to look at key delivery or pick up times as well as both day and night operations, as illumination plays a large role in traffic risks.

Once traffic risks have been identified, assessed, evaluated and controlled it is important that the risks are also monitored on an ongoing basis.  A useful way of doing this is to undertake inspections, either as standalone exercises or including them in general workplace inspections.  Areas to monitor within these inspections include:

  • Separation of vehicles and pedestrians
  • Suitability and effectiveness of barriers
  • Vehicle routes and pathways
  • Pedestrian routes
  • Vehicle movements – including direction, speed, separation of people and vehicles
  • Signage
  • Warning devices – such as flashing lights, sensors and reversing alarms installed on powered mobile plant
  • Information, training and supervision
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • General vehicle condition and safety

Please contact QRMC for more information or for assistance with traffic risk assessments or the development and review of traffic management plans.