Working around traffic, including plant and vehicles, can pose significant health and safety risks. Between 2013 and 2017, vehicle accidents in the construction industry caused an average of 251 incidents annually.
Traffic management measures must be used to control the health and safety risks associated with working around traffic.
Traffic management is the planning and control of traffic from one location to another. It focuses on creating and managing an orderly and efficient movement of persons and goods, creating a safe environment for all users. It includes the organisation, arrangement, guidance and control of both stationary and moving traffic, including pedestrians, cyclists and all types of vehicles.
The General guide for workplace traffic management provides information for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage traffic risks at a workplace, including for work on or near a public road.
This General guide is supported by the following suite of traffic management documents:
- Traffic management guide: Shopping centres
- Traffic management guide: Construction work
- Traffic management guide: Warehousing
- Traffic management guide: Events
- Traffic management information sheet
- Traffic control measures checklist
- Traffic hazards checklist
Note: there are multiple laws that can apply to traffic management, not just WHS laws. It is important that you are aware of all your obligations. Contact details for state and territory road authorities are below.
A Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) must manage risks, so far as is reasonably practicable. The risk management process is discussed below.
Identify hazards —find out what could cause harm.
The following can help to identify traffic hazards:
- Observe the workplace to identify areas where pedestrians and vehicles interact. Think about the floor plan and placement of overhead structures in your workplace, whether work is done close to public areas, when traffic volumes are higher, where potential blind spots are and if there are areas of poor visibility. Security footage may be useful if available.
- Review work tasks, design and management. Monitor types and heights of vehicles, where loading and unloading occurs and the general needs of traffic, including parking, road surface and entering and exiting the workplace.
- Ask your workers, visiting drivers and other pedestrians about traffic management problems they encounter at your workplace.
- Review your incident and injury records, including near misses.
Assess risks—In many cases the risks and related control measures will be well known. In other cases, you may need to carry out a risk assessment to identify the nature of the harm that could be caused by the hazard, the likelihood of somebody being harmed by the hazard and how serious it could be.
A risk assessment can help you determine what action you should take to control the risks and how urgently the action needs to be taken.
Control the risks—implement the most effective control measure that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances and ensure it remains effective over time.
When implementing controls, the first thing that should be considered is whether a traffic hazard can be eliminated, for example through the removal of powered mobile plant and other vehicles from the workplace.
Substitution, isolation and engineering controls should then be considered. For example:
substitute the hazard for something safer: for example, swap trucks and forklifts with other load shifting equipment such as a walker stacker
isolate the risk from workers: including by isolating pedestrians from vehicles by using overhead walkways, and
engineering controls: such as fitting vehicles with devices such as reversing sensors and reversing cameras.
If a risk still remains, administrative control measures should be implemented.
Administrative control measures include processes such as training, instruction and supervision.
If the workplace is large with a high volume of traffic, or where carrying out work on or near public roads, a traffic management plan can help plan and communicate how the traffic risks will be managed.
A traffic management plan may include details of:
- the desired flow of pedestrian and vehicle movements
- the expected frequency of interaction of vehicles and pedestrians
- illustrations of the layout of barriers, walkways, signs and general arrangements to warn and guide traffic around, past, or through a work site or temporary hazard, and
- how short term, mobile work and complex traffic situations will be managed.
Personal protective equipment should be used to control any remaining risks. For example, high-visibility vests so that workers are easily visible in the workplace.
The risk controls you have implemented should be monitored and reviewed to ensure they remain effective.
Further information on the risk management process is in the model Code of Practice: How to manage work health and safety risks.
Work on or near a public road
When carrying out work on or near a public road, there are additional risks that must be considered. The appropriate temporary traffic management measures will depend on the circumstances of the work, the work being undertaken and the volume and proximity of the traffic to the workplace. Common traffic controls include the use of signs, speed limits, traffic cones, barricades and traffic controllers.
You should contact your local road authority for advice on the installation and use of traffic control devices on a public road; see the further resources and contacts section below.
Under the model WHS Regulations, work that involves movement of powered mobile plant, or work that takes place on or adjacent to a public road, railway, shipping lane or other traffic corridor that is used by traffic (other than pedestrians), is considered high risk construction work. The model WHS Regulations impose additional obligations for high risk construction work.
A PCBU in control of a workplace that includes the high risk construction work must ensure there is a safe work method statement (SWMS) in place before the work commences. A safe work method statement must identify the work that is high risk, specify hazards and describe the measures to control the risks, including how the control measures are to be implemented, monitored and reviewed. Further information can be found in the fact sheet Safe work method statement for high risk construction work.
For further information on managing the risks related to construction work, see the model Code of Practice: Construction work.