The road traffic control industry has grown exponentially over the past five years, according to WorkCover Queensland. While this is encouraging for those working in the sector, it has also led to an increase in workplace injuries.

Traffic management is a high-risk occupation and failure to follow safety standards can lead to death or serious injury in motorists or road workers, including the traffic controllers themselves.

To combat the rising prevalence of accidents, WorkCover has been working closely with the Traffic Management Association of Queensland (TMAQ).

TMAQ President Paul Kelly explained his organisation’s relationship with WorkCover is a valuable partnership, helping to manage workers’ compensation claims and develop effective occupational health and safety (OHS) procedures.

“It’s important that safety systems keep up with the growth in the traffic control industry,” Mr Kelly said in a March 27 media release.

Pablo Aviles, WorkCover Queensland’s customer advisor, attended a TMAQ meeting on March 13 to present his findings on injury and accidents within the traffic control industry.

“Total claims costs for the industry have continued to rise since 2011, which has impacted on the industry’s premium rate,” he revealed. “This means that there’s more work to be done to prevent injuries and ensure safer work environments.”

WorkCover’s guidance over the industry has enabled employers to reduce the amount of time employees require off work after a workplace injury, falling from an average of 33.7 days in 2009-10 to just 19.2 last year.

However, these figures show the management of injury claims and recovery is being supported, while preventing accidents has taken a back seat.

Ensuring your employees are protected and minimising the risk of injury is an important factor in reducing workers’ compensation claims. The average time and productivity lost from workplace injuries would be drastically diminished if there were fewer accidents in the traffic control industry.

Preventing traffic control accidents and injuries

According to the December 2013 Traffic Management In Workplaces Code of Practice, it is the employer or business owner’s responsibility for ensuring, as far as is reasonably practical, that workers and other people are not exposed to health and safety risks in the workplace or during business duties.

Additionally, workers have a duty of care for their own health and safety in the workplace. This means they are required to follow all reasonable policies and procedures related to OHS.

In the traffic control industry, this responsibility can be covered by following national and state standards and legislation related to traffic management plans.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requires all persons engaged in high-risk construction activities, such as traffic control, to undertake official and specific training in any relevant areas.

This means that employers operating in the traffic control industry are obliged to provide their staff with traffic management and control training from an accredited provider.

What’s involved in a traffic management plan?

A comprehensive traffic control course will enable an individual to correctly implement a traffic management plan, including the process of identifying and resolving risks to workers and the public.

When creating a traffic management plan, it is important to consider every individual that may be put at risk – including visitors to the site, employees and the general public.

The vast majority of traffic control activities involve working with both public vehicles and industry machinery. Ensuring these channels of traffic can operate safely in the same space can be one of the most difficult processes. Additionally, when pedestrians are added in to the mix, a traffic management plan can become a complicated practice.

Reducing the risk of accidents can often be as simple as separating the channels of traffic from one another. This includes creating independent pathways for work vehicles, public motorists and pedestrians. These pathways must be clearly marked and easily followed, to avoid an individual becoming disoriented and taking the wrong route.

For additional safety, installing high-impact barriers, guardrails and elevated walkways is recommended. These safety measures ensure that the people on foot are separated from vehicles and machinery and are forced to pause before stepping into roadways.

When considering the safety of the traffic controller, it is important to be mindful of the inattention of other people on the road. While the controllers’ colleagues will most likely be aware of their presence, a member of the public is likely to not be prepared.

It is therefore important for all individuals likely to be standing on a shared roadway to be highly visible. This includes wearing reflective, brightly coloured clothing, setting up cones and bollards and displaying warning signs.

If you would like to minimise the risk of traffic control accidents, get in touch with AlertForce today about our extensive traffic management and control training.