On July 19, Safe Work Australia published a Model Code of Practice titled “Traffic Management in Workplaces”. This document provides an WHS guide for employers and employees all over the country who operate or work alongside vehicles and powered mobile plants.

According to Safe Work Australia, the Model Code of Practice has been given to the Select Council on Workplace Relations (also known as the Ministerial Council) for approval.

When it’s eventually agreed to, it will become the official WHS Code of Practice under the “Inter-Governmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational” reform. That basically means it will constitute the foundation of traffic management legislation in all states and territories.

So, having a solid understanding of what the Model Code of Practice for “Traffic Management in Workplaces” contains will serve you well, no matter where in Australia you happen to live and work in.

Who’s responsible?

The document begins with an overview of exactly who is responsible for traffic management in the workplace. As usual, it’s a team effort. While the person conducting a business or undertaking (also known as the PCBU) has the “primary duty” to ensure all employees and people in the workplace are healthy and safe, a number of players are involved when it comes to traffic management.

These include the “principal contractor” if the workplace happens to be a construction site; the “designers, manufacturers, suppliers and importers” of the workplace, who should – for instance – ensure its layout keeps vehicles and pedestrians away from each other; officers and the employees themselves – particularly those who are driving vehicles or powered mobile plants.

Where do you start?

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re working in or what area of the workplace you’re focusing on, your first step toward creating a safe and healthy environment is a risk management strategy.

When it comes to traffic management, you still need to make a list of all the hazards in your workplace, come up with a method of assessing them (which involves putting them in order from “most risky” to “least risky”) and finally take measures to either remove the hazards altogether or, at least, mitigate the risk they pose to everyone in the workplace.

The difference is that all of the hazards you identify, assess and remove or control will be traffic-related.

These can include:

– reversing or maneuvering, arriving or departing, unloading or loading vehicles;
– if pedestrians are required to use the same routes as vehicles;
– attaching or detaching trailers;
– any maintenance work that needs to be carried out on vehicles or powered mobile plants;
– if drivers or operators are not able to see pedestrians at any point in time; and
– whether pedestrian routes (such as crossings) are well marked or not.

Once you’ve made a list of these hazards, it’s time to assess and control them.

What are some traffic management tips?

In addition to providing a step-by-step guide to developing a risk management strategy, Safe Work Australia’s Model Code of Practice contains some useful suggestions for reducing the likelihood of traffic-related accidents occurring.

The following are just a few highlights – for more information, read the full Model Code of Practice here.

When possible, the best way to make sure drivers and pedestrians stay healthy and safe in the workplace is by keeping them away from each other. It’s a good idea to provide them with separate routes, or at least placing barriers around vehicle routes to stop pedestrians from walking onto them accidently.

All routes should be designed with the largest vehicle you’ll be using in mind, so they don’t risk getting stuck. They should also be well maintained (free of potholes and other obstructions) and, Safe Work Australia states, surfaced with “bitumen, concrete or another suitable material that is well drained”.

The act of reversing is one of the most dangerous parts of driving a vehicle, so this one area that requires a good deal of attention.

The Model Code of Practice suggests employees avoid reversing altogether; however, there are other control measures you can implement if this isn’t possible. For instance, make sure all vehicles are equipped with the appropriate mirrors and reversing cameras, to help drivers see where they’re going, as well as lights and/or alarms so pedestrians know when vehicles are reversing.

Want to know more?

AlertForce offers courses in traffic management, which will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to keep safe in a variety of workplaces – no matter where you are in Australia.

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