A worker was fatally injured and another seriously injured when struck by a car while setting up traffic management for road works.
There have also been a number of other incidents recently where workers have been struck and injured or placed at risk by errant vehicles.
The most common hazards to employees’ health and safety while undertaking traffic management activities is the risk of serious or fatal injuries due to being struck by moving vehicles or plant.
Traffic management activities include the installation, operation and removal of traffic management controls.
Recommended ways to control risks
Assess the risk
To reduce the risk of an employee being struck by an errant vehicle the following factors should be considered when identifying and assessing the risks associated with traffic management activities:
- volume, speed and type of motor vehicles using the roadway
- clearance between moving traffic and traffic management set-up
- other vulnerable road users that may be impacted by the traffic management set-up (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.)
- location of the traffic management set-up (eg straight road, sharp bends, corners, intersections)
- road conditions (eg bitumen road, gravel road)
- environmental factors, visibility and weather conditions
- construction plant/equipment used on site
- safe site access and egress for construction vehicles and plant
- time of day (eg peak traffic periods) and duration of the traffic management set-up/works
Employers must eliminate any risks to health and safety, so far as reasonably practicable. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, it must be reduced so far as is reasonably practicable. Below are examples of risk control measures that may be implemented. Usually a combination of risk control measures will be required to control the risk.
- Elimination - close the road, implement detours onto other roads and traffic diversions.
- Substitution / Engineering / Isolation to reduce risk – rated safety barriers, close the lanes adjacent to work area, use different construction method, vehicle mounted attenuators, automated process for cone/bollard installation.
- Administrative controls to reduce risk - use of portable traffic signals, speed reduction, warning signs, variable message signs, delineation of travel path.
- Personal protective equipment - wear high visibility clothing.
Construction work and traffic management
Construction work on or near a live road is high risk construction work (HRCW). Employers and self-employed persons must prepare a safe work method statement (SWMS) before commencing HRCW and implement the controls set out in the SWMS.
SWMSs must identify and control the risks associated with the HRCW, including traffic management set-ups, for example risks:
- to employees undertaking traffic management activities
- to employees who are being protected by the traffic management control measures
- to pedestrians and motorists, including clear instruction and signage
- associated with any plant set up and operated on the construction site or road reserve
The SWMS should reference any traffic management plan in place, and must address hazards and risks to employees and the broader public, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
If the high-risk construction work changes or if there is an indication that control measures are not adequately controlling the risks, the HRCW works must stop and the SWMS must be reviewed and, if necessary, revised.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must:
- so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and independent contractors and their employees
- so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to the health of employees and independent contractors and their employees
- provide employees and independent contractors and their employees with the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health
- so far as is reasonably practicable, consult with employees, independent contractors and their employees, and health and safety representatives when identifying or assessing hazards or risks and making decisions about risk control measures
Employers and self-employed persons must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of their undertaking.
Employers and self-employed persons undertaking construction work also have additional duties under Part 5.1 Construction of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017.