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Have a care for traffic controllers during holiday rush


18 December 2020

The Queensland Government is urging drivers to slow down at roadworks and for bosses to protect their traffic control workers as we head into the festive season and annual getaways.

Head of Workplace health and Safety Queensland Craig Allen said the best thing drivers can do is observe designated speed limits through roadworks. Just as important, road construction businesses must have plans in place to protect traffic controllers from fatigued or distracted drivers and heavy holiday traffic.

"In a festive state of mind, people are rushing and not concentrating on the road as much as they usually would," Mr Allen said.

"Whether it’s to get home, get away or just get things done, people are more pushed for time and in a hurry."

"That tension and the extra cars on the road mean traffic control workers are at a much greater risk than normal."

"Tragically this leads to at least one traffic controller’s death every year, while around 100 are injured and need medical treatment or time off work."

Fatigue levels vary for individuals and there are many factors to consider—but staying awake for 17 hours has a similar negative effect on performance as driving over the legal blood alcohol limit.

Principal contractors doing construction work on roads must prepare a written work health and safety management plan before starting the project. And every person working on the project must be informed about the plan.

Mr Allen said a traffic management plan or traffic guidance scheme should be part of the safety management plan.

"If you’re in charge of high-risk construction work, you must prepare a safe work method statement which includes measures to control risk, and how these measures will be monitored and reviewed."

"Traffic controllers perform high risk construction work, so a safe work method statement must be prepared."

In line with the Traffic management for construction or maintenance work code of practice (PDF, 0.8 MB) managing risks at roadworks includes the setting up, operating, changing and ultimate dismantling of a traffic guidance scheme, followed by the determination of appropriate measures to manage exposure to the risks. This process applies to all roadworks, regardless of size or complexity.

"We all look forward to spending time with family and friends during the holidays, so it’s easy to get frustrated if we get stuck in traffic."

"But please spare a thought for those people helping us to get through the busy traffic as smoothly as possible."

"They are still at work and they have families to go home to as well."

"Be sensible, slow down, and observe the traffic rules and the directions you’re given by traffic controllers," Mr Allen said.

Read the Traffic management for construction or maintenance work code of practice (PDF, 0.8 MB).

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