National occupational health and safety (OHS) organisation Safe Work Australia has released a range of guidance materials designed to help employers improve employee and public wellbeing outcomes.

Nine packages were created in support of the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and WHS Regulations. Published on July 4, the guides cover common OHS hazards such as working on scaffolds, using industrial lift trucks and managing risks in the forestry industry.

These nationally recognised guides provide employers and persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) with practical advice on how to manage risks in the workplace. However, some states and territories are subject to particular legislation and requirements, so additional OHS training and support is recommended.

One particular package published by Safe Work Australia covers the risks and best practices related to traffic management across a range of industries. This release contains a number of amendments to the specific sector guides published in July 2013, as agreed upon by the majority of the Safe Work Australia board in June this year. Also included are checklists to assist employers and supervisors manage and address common risks.

General traffic management guide

The general traffic management guide is a vital resource for any PCBU whose operations present a risk of traffic colliding with people in the workplace. Traffic as per these guides includes any vehicles such as cars, trucks or buses, powered mobile equipment like forklifts and cyclists.

However, the guide is not designed to support work carried out on or near a public road. This includes construction projects located on footpaths or close to streets. Undertakings that require working on or near roads should follow the requirements and guidelines set out by your local road authority.

Key considerations laid out in this general guide include the identification and assessment of potential risks, controls to manage hazards and systems of responsibilities.

In particular, workplaces that include high volumes of vehicles and pedestrians should develop a thorough traffic management plan to help communicate risks and controls to all staff and visitors.

A strategic plan may include the best practice pedestrian and vehicle movements and the expected frequency of interactions and occurrences of traffic. This document can also contain illustrations and guides to relevant signs, barriers and hazards as well as overviews of the controls that have been put in place.

An important consideration within the general management guide is the provision of traffic management training to help protect employees from common risks. Workers who are required to perform duties associated with controlling traffic in your workplace should be adequately trained to do so.

As far as is reasonably possible, all individuals who have access to your workplace – including visitors – should be offered the necessary information to protect against OHS risks. This could be managed through a range of methods, from a simple induction to the site through to comprehensive training programs.

Construction Work

The construction and building industry can pose many OHS risks to employees, particularly related to traffic management. Vehicles commonly share the site with pedestrian workers, which presents a number of hazards regarding collisions and crushing.

This industry specific guide outlines the most effective methods of reducing traffic risks on a construction site – including the total mitigation of hazards through eliminating the need for vehicles and pedestrians to use the same pathways. For example, site managers may be able to design the workplace to provide separate routes for each traffic type.

The key considerations laid out within this guide include:

  • Separating pedestrians and vehicles
  • Mitigating the need to reverse
  • Improving line of sight and visibility
  • Minimising potential vehicle movement
  • Installing relevant signs and barriers
  • Developing and enacting a traffic management plan

If these considerations are taken on board when designing and managing a construction site, the potential for accidents and injury should be reduced significantly. Additionally, PCBUs need to consider the provision of information, training, instruction and supervision.

Ensuring employees and visitors hold all necessary information regarding safe work practices and traffic controls is a vital factor in improving OHS outcomes on construction sites. This process is considered the responsibility of the PCBU, employer or site manager, as well as any worker who is required to undertake duties related to the operation of vehicles onsite.

Events

Organising a public event is a highly complex and challenging endeavour, made more difficult by the OHS risks at each step. In particular, when patrons, participants and workers are sharing space with vehicles and equipment, having a traffic management plan in place is crucial.

Whether a recreational, social, sporting or corporate event, traffic chaos can lead to serious accidents and injuries if not correctly managed. In many cases, vehicles that contribute to an event's traffic include buses, forklifts, cars and cranes.

The PCBU in charge of traffic management plans at events may be the event organiser, but this duty should also be handed down to and addressed by any supervisors, contractors and employees who may be required to undertake work related to vehicles and pedestrians on site.

Traffic control procedures will need to be in place during the three phases of the event – preparation, staging and dismantling. Each of these time frames can pose serious risks to employee and public health and safety.

In particular, the separation of pedestrians and vehicles should be a key consideration. Creating independent pathways and roads is vitally important, particularly when dealing with visitors who have not undertaking traffic management training.

Additionally, designated areas should be created for vehicle parking and the loading and unpacking of equipment or goods. Restricting public access to these locations is a recommended control that may help improve OHS outcomes.

During times of peak pedestrian movement, such as just prior and after the main event showcase, vehicle activity should be kept to a minimum.

Training and information is a crucial consideration for event traffic management, including easily visible signs and marked pathways to ensure visitors and patrons understand traffic plans even without prior training.

Shopping Centres

The activity around or within shopping centres often involves a great deal of traffic, such as pedestrians, passenger vehicles, trolley collection carts, delivery trucks and forklifts.

It can therefore be challenging to manage and control this activity. Fortunately, the Safe Work Australian traffic management guide outlines a few key considerations that can help – such as:

  • Schedule deliveries for times of low public traffic
  • Design car parks and loading docks to avoid pedestrian and vehicle interaction
  • Locate shopping trolley collection bays away from high traffic areas
  • Develop and implement traffic management plans

The business owner and employer should also ensure that staff have undertaken adequate traffic management training and information is easily accessible for visitors to the centre.

Warehousing

The practical guide to warehouse traffic management identifies the common risks present in factories and warehouses. This includes the use of delivery trucks, forklifts and passenger cars.

Due to the high volume of vehicle traffic required in the warehousing sector, considerations must be made in regards to effective traffic management plans. This includes separating pedestrians and vehicles, avoiding potential load falls and ensuring employees know how to safely operate machinery.

For example, the traffic management plan for a warehouse will generally include the provision of forklift training and permits to any employee who may be required to operate an industrial lift device.

If you would like more information on the traffic management requirements in your industry, or want to access training for your staff, get in touch with AlertForce today.

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