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The flow of vehicles, powered mobile plant and other objects in the workplace requires having a thorough work health and safety plan in place. Interactions between pedestrians and vehicles can lead to different kinds of accidents, whether they take place around an event, inside busy shopping malls, at a construction or road works site or within a warehouse environment.

Traffic hazards can arise from a variety of factors, so your WHS strategy will need to be tailored to the risks inherent in your workplace. Owners or other people conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) have direct responsibility to ensure that any risks to worker health and safety is eliminated or reduced as much as humanly possible.

Reducing the amount of workplace incidents that occur has benefits for the workforce as a whole as well as the larger company, with the potential to affect everything from employee satisfaction to productivity as well as your bottom line. Traffic management plans can make up a vital component of your strategy to protect workers and members of the public in the workplace.

If you’re in the process of creating a new traffic management strategy or rethinking your existing policy, here are some essential features and steps you may want to take.

Consulting employees

Your employees’ welfare is at the issue at the heart of any WHS strategy. In light of that fact, it makes sense to include your workforce in the creation and development of your traffic management plans. After all, they are the ones who are on the front lines every day and they will typically be most at risk of unsafe incidents with vehicles.

It’s up to you to work out how you want to set up the consultation system, whether you appoint a health and safety representative to liaise with or encourage submissions through email or face to face meetings.

Involving your employees in the process can give you a deeper insight into why incidents are occurring and where specific hazards are located in the workplace. They can also be a source of innovative ideas for controlling and eliminating the risks, which can help to improve your overall WHS strategy.

Don’t forget to keep consulting your employees even after the traffic management plan has been implemented, as their feedback can be essential in fine-tuning the scope of the strategy and making sure it is really making an impact on safety around vehicles and powered mobile plant.

If appropriate, you may also wish to provide an opportunity for your staff members to participate in traffic management training. Specialised courses can improve your employees’ knowledge of the traffic risks in their workplace and provide them with solutions for avoiding or reducing the risk factors.

There are different legislative requirements in each state or territory of Australia, but a tailored traffic management course will ensure your staff have what they need to plan, prepare and monitor the relevant traffic guidance and management schemes.

Hazard identification

Identifying the hazards around traffic in the workplace is the first step to creating a thorough WHS plan. Control measures should be enforced around specific hazards to promote safer working practices, so you will need to understand where the risks are and how they can be prevented or minimised.

Your employees can be a useful source of information about traffic management problems, but it’s also a good idea to look back at any archived incident and injury records. You may be able to identify patterns and specific danger zones from analysing the records made over the years.

Spend some time observing your workplace to see where procedures or areas can be improved. For example, are there any sites where vehicles are operated in the same area as pedestrians? Is there enough signage displayed to warn pedestrians and vehicle operators of each other’s presence, and is it fully visible in all weather and lighting conditions?

Hazards around traffic can also occur when vehicle and/or pedestrian volumes are higher. This may arise during certain times of the day, for example when pick-ups and deliveries are scheduled or during break time as employees leave their designated work zones. Sometimes, a simple change in the scheduling of these activities can ensure the risk of traffic incidents is lowered.

There are certain areas in any workplace which have greater potential for collision, such as intersections or bottlenecks around entry and exit points, blind corners or close working spaces. Keep an eye out for these spots in your work environment and make a note of where they are.

Reporting procedures

A traffic management plan should include the appropriate steps for reporting an incident. These should be labelled clearly and concisely, and they need to be accessible for everyone who may have cause to report an accident.

Reporting any WHS incident is important for updating company records. It provides the information needed to ensure the same type of accident doesn’t happen again, and the notes may also be required in the case of a legal proceeding.

Make sure everyone knows where the relevant instructions are kept and ensure the chain of command is clear. Names, dates and the nature of the incident should all be detailed as part of the report.

Control measures

Your traffic management plan should set out the measures that can be implemented to eliminate or reduce risks in the workplace. These should be linked to the specific hazard they are associated with and updated regularly as workplace conditions change.

When it comes to selecting the appropriate control measure for a risk or hazard, there are several things you can consider. For example, signage, signalling and speed limits can be a preventive step against traffic incidents and may be helpful for directing traffic flows more efficiently.

Separating humans from vehicle traffic is another way to reduce the possibility of an incident. This can involve eliminating vehicles or powered mobile plant from entering areas where pedestrians are moving around and working or creating new routes for vehicles or pedestrians only. You can also physically separate humans from vehicles by adding safety barriers or fences.

When appropriate, you may also want to provide certain staff members with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as high visibility clothing.

As you select your control measures, make sure to take into account the challenges around your workplace layout, the traffic volume and flow, black spots and site conditions.

Evaluation measures

If you are satisfied with the depth of your traffic management plan, the next step is to put it into action. After you have implemented the strategy within your workplace, it’s important to keep reviewing and evaluating its success on a regular basis.

Even the best traffic management plans will need an update from time to time, as workplace conditions or legislative requirements may change. Even if nothing has changed, consistent evaluation is a good way to ensure the strategy is still working as effectively as it should be.

You should pay particular attention to your control measures, as these will generally need to be maintained and reviewed regularly.

For more information on creating a good traffic management plan for your workplace, talk to the AlertForce team today.

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