Workplace Health and Safety Queensland often reviews complaints about traffic management in relation to construction sites, particularly in built-up areas with a lot of construction work underway.
Complaints can come from impatient motorists who have been held up by construction work, and often there is some substance to the complaint.
There are two main considerations for traffic management on a construction site. The first consideration relates to separating mobile plant, workers, and other people on the construction site. The second consideration looks at when the construction work impacts public roads, and the motorists, pedestrians, and bike riders using the roads.
Construction works carried out on, in, or adjacent to a road or other traffic corridor that is in use by traffic, is considered high risk construction work. This means a safe work method statement is required.
A principal contractor is responsible for managing risks to health and safety associated with traffic in the vicinity of the workplace that may be affected by construction work carried out in connection with a construction project. The principal contractor should identify the control measures likely to be required during the construction project and agree upon them with the developer, local council for roads under its jurisdiction, and Transport and Main Roads for roads under its jurisdiction, before entering a contract to undertake the project. For construction projects valued at $250,000 or more, a traffic management plan should form part of the required Work Health and Safety (WHS) Management Plan or attached to the WHS Management Plan.
Traffic management plans are live documents that must be reviewed regularly and updated as the construction site changes. A thorough risk assessment must be undertaken and consider peak periods of road usage (for example, near schools and shopping centres), and a variety of control measures (for example, for different times of the day and during school terms). You should also factor in risks associated with motorists being distracted (for example, being inattentive, in a rush, or talking on their phone).
Principal contractors need to provide a safe workplace for personnel and plant, and safe and convenient conditions for road users. Care should also be taken to avoid, wherever possible, long delays or detours which may cause unnecessary inconvenience to road users. Ensure that all personnel at a worksite are aware of their responsibilities, and that traffic controllers are appropriately trained and informed of their duties.
If there is a serious incident on a road, any party associated with the construction work that could have prevented it would likely be a key duty holder of interest. An inspector will consider what is agreed on in the contract between parties – this might include who has authority, control and influence over the aspects of work in question; who commissioned the work; who is undertaking the work, and who has the capacity to implement control measures.
When developing a traffic management plan, refer to:
- Traffic management for construction or maintenance work code of practice 2008
- Queensland Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
- Australian Standard AS1742 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices
- Queensland Guide to Road Safety
- Queensland Guide to Temporary Traffic Management
- Queensland Guide to Traffic Management