Building products distributor Dindas Australia has highly active worksites with forklifts and trucks of all sizes at each branch, working in close proximity with each other and with pedestrians. A recent audit enabled the company to implement effective traffic management processes.
In a 2012 incident on one worksite, a forklift ran over a worker's foot who was in the exclusion zone. Dindas entered into an enforceable undertaking with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland that required the company to engage a consultant to conduct a traffic management system audit across three states - and implement improvements.
The consultant visited each worksite and discussed the issues with managers, supervisors, truck drivers, forklift operators and workers. This helped to clarify how the operation worked, production capacities, lead times and other business constraints.
A key focus was that the safety system and business requirements should be closely linked to ensure that the worksite remained safe while production was maintained or improved.
It became clear that although Dindas believed it was working safely, there were a number of safety issues, including:
- workers and forklifts working too close to each other
- truck drivers working too close to forklifts whilst loading or unloading
- truck drivers not clear about site safety rules
- pedestrian walkways not always in the safest of locations.
As well, although the core business was the same, each worksite had specific hazards. As a result, an individual traffic management plan was developed at each site, which now provides a system of control over all parts of vehicle and pedestrian movement. Each plan has been individually designed to suit the way each site works, including entry and exit, production and site layout and addresses how vehicles and pedestrians can move around each site safely.
Other changes implemented include:
- new pedestrian walkways and barriers, including redirecting pedestrians via a safe route behind the production facility, rather than across the face of it
- new structures erected as driver safety zones - with sideloader forklifts, it is unsafe to have truck drivers standing beside their cabins during loading or unloading operations. The new zones mean drivers do not need to remain in their vehicles and there is also seating to ensure drivers can rest before travelling again
- the installation of new racking with a more user-friendly layout for forklift operators
- the introduction of a new forklift fleet, incorporating technology such as speed-limiting devices and automated pre-start checks
- additional communication, training and engagement with site-based staff.
Dindas says the results show the importance of consulting with the people who have to work with identified hazards. It is a good example of a business using traffic management planning processes to address the interaction of plant and vehicles with people in a safe and positive manner.