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On-site traffic management

You must manage the risk of collision and injuries when vehicles and powered mobile machinery and equipment operate in the same area as pedestrians.

What are the risks of traffic in the workplace?

Between 2014 and 2016, 10 workers died in Queensland after being hit or trapped by mobile plant. In the same period, there were 1,200 accepted workers’ compensation claims for serious injuries. Effectively managing worksite traffic can help prevent these kinds of incidents and injuries.

Harm can result from:

  • being trapped between a vehicle and a structure
  • vehicles colliding with each other or a structure
  • being hit by a vehicle
  • items that fall off vehicles (unsecured or unstable loads).

How do I manage the risks?

Workers and management can work together to reduce the risks from vehicles and mobile machinery and equipment. You can watch our video on managing traffic on site and read more information below.

For workers

Workers have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and to not negatively affect the health and safety of others.

As a worker, you must:

  • follow any reasonable instruction
  • cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety at your place of work.

The Traffic management for construction or maintenance work code of practice 2008 (PDF, 0.8 MB) has information about the hazards, risks, and responsibilities associated with traffic management for construction or maintenance work. It also has information about traffic control measures.

For businesses

If you’re an employer or a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), it’s your duty to use a risk management approach to manage traffic , as outlined in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

You may also have responsibilities and obligations under the Traffic management for construction or maintenance work code of practice 2008.

Following a four-step risk management process will help your business meet its responsibilities under work health and safety (WHS) laws.

You can also refer to our:

Four steps to risk management

You can identify potential hazards by:

  • observing the workplace to identify areas where pedestrians and vehicles interact. Think about:
    • the floorplan
    • if work is done close to public areas
    • when traffic volumes are higher
    • where potential blind spots are
    • areas of poor visibility.
  • asking your workers, pedestrians and visiting drivers about traffic-management problems they’re aware of
  • reviewing your incident and injury records including near misses.

Safe Work Australia has a useful checklist for identifying traffic hazards.

When you’ve identified risks, consider:

  • how likely it is that they’ll cause harm
  • how serious the harm could be.

This will help you determine what you must do to control the risk and how urgently you have to do it.

Most vehicle incidents at the workplace are from collisions between pedestrians and vehicles that are reversing, loading, or unloading. It’s important to control this risk by keeping people, including customers and visitors, away from vehicles as much as possible.

The traffic management self-assessment tool (PDF, 0.36 MB) will help you identify and assess risks and develop a traffic management plan to control them.

Work health and safety laws require a business or undertaking to do all that is reasonably practicable to eliminate or minimise risks. Ways to control risks are ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability, to the lowest. This ranking is known as the hierarchy of risk control. You must work through this hierarchy to manage risks.

Completely remove hazards, if possible

If possible, completely remove hazards from the workplace. For example, physically separate pedestrian routes from vehicle areas. You could do this by:

  • using physical barriers or overhead walkways, or
  • only using machinery and vehicles when no pedestrians are around.

Minimise risks

If it’s not reasonably practicable to completely eliminate the risk, consider one or more of the following options, in the order they appear below, to minimise risks:

  • substitute the hazard for something safer, for example, replace forklifts with other load-shifting equipment like a walker stacker or pallet jacks
  • isolate the hazard from people, for example, create a delivery area away from other pedestrians or work activities
  • use engineering controls, for example, speed limiters on forklifts, presence-sensing devices, or interlocked gates.

If the above control measures do not remove the risk, consider the following controls, in the order below, to minimise the remaining risk:

  • use administrative controls, for example, warning signs, or schedule delivery times to avoid or reduce the need for pedestrians and vehicles to interact
  • use personal protective equipment (PPE), for example, high-visibility clothing.

Refer to Safe Work Australia’s traffic management guide for detailed information on how to control traffic risks.

Regularly review your control measures to make sure they’re working as planned and are effective. Take account of any changes and of the nature and duration of work.

Further information on the risk management process is in the How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB).

Traffic management plans

If your workplace is large and has a high volume of traffic, a traffic management plan can help you communicate how you’re managing traffic risks in your workplace. It may include things such as:

  • the flow of pedestrian and vehicle traffic
  • the responsibilities of people managing traffic
  • procedures for controlling traffic in an emergency.

See Safe Work Australia’s traffic management guide for more information about traffic management plans.

Standards and compliance

The  Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the WHS Act) provides a framework to protect the health, safety and welfare of all workers at your place of work. It also protects the health and safety of all other
people who might be affected by the work.

Codes of practice

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Case studies