Traffic is one of the most common causes of workplace injuries in New Zealand. Whether you are based in a shopping centre, warehouse, construction site, pop-up event or small business, all pedestrian and vehicle traffic needs to be controlled in order to keep employees and the public safe.
Traffic management aims to remove or minimise hazards to keep your people safe and also save your workplace in both time and money in the long term. Don’t fall into the complacency trap and wait for something to go wrong before acting!
Managing traffic should be incorporated into each company’s health and safety planning and ongoing practices. In this blog, we’ve outlined some best practices to ensure that employees and any visitors to your site, return home safely at the end of their workday.
Why is traffic management important in the workplace?
Businesses have an obligation to keep employees safe in the work environment by eliminating or minimising risks. Staff must be given the highest protection against harm, in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, as far as reasonably practicable.
The human and economic cost of work-related incidents is substantial. Last year there were 32,232 cases of serious incidents requiring more than a week off work and 108 fatalities across New Zealand businesses. Vehicles were the cause of many of these accidents, therefore, if not possible to eliminate the hazard, minimising the risks with safety controls should be a priority.
Who should be involved in traffic management?
It’s important that workplace traffic management has buy-in from the whole team, as staff will need to work together to make the environment as safe as reasonably possible. As employees are the ones on the floor experiencing the issues, they are often helpful in suggesting solutions! If your workplace is large enough, consider selecting a health and safety representative who will be responsible for driving these conversations.
Managers should take responsibility for providing adequate training and supervision, reviewing incident reporting, regular workplace inspections, providing safe and well-maintained machinery and resolving any identified issues.
You must notify any other businesses that use your workspace (including shared driveways or parking areas), contractors using the premise and members of the public, of any site-specific requirements. If your work involves public roads, please reach out to your local road authority for the relevant traffic management guidelines and requirements.
How can traffic risks be managed?
These five steps will assist with managing your workplace traffic effectively:
Identifying the possible hazards:Talk with staff, review the incident log and consider the workplace. Where do vehicles and pedestrians interact on the floor plan? Are public areas nearby? When is traffic the busiest? Are there areas of low visibility?
Assessing the hazards:Evaluate the likelihood of an incident occurring and the potential harm it could cause. This should help identify the actions that need to be taken and the urgency required.
Acting to control the risks:Consider if the risk can be completely eliminated (such as separating pedestrian areas with barricades) or if this is not reasonably practical, if it can be significantly reduced by implementing safety controls.
Reviewing control measures:Check controls that have been implemented to ensure they are working as planned and regularly review the measures, considering any recent changes that have been made.
Creating a traffic management plan:This will help communicate how traffic risks are being managed in your business. A well-documented and understood plan is critical for mitigating risks and avoiding any legal proceedings that may arise as a result of workplace incidents. The plan may include; a diagram or the worksite that outlines the flow of pedestrian and vehicle movements, hazards, implemented controls (such as barriers, speed limits, drop-off areas), as well as the responsibilities of each staff member and emergency procedures.
When managing traffic in the workplace, it’s important to consider all types - including light vehicles, trucks, forklifts, cyclists, delivery vans and pedestrians. Here are some industry best practices to consider when developing your safety controls:
Keep pedestrians separate from vehicles: Avoiding collision can be achieved by using barriers, bollards (there are both steel or flexible options available) and having clearly defined pathways by using painted lines.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE): Staff in heavy traffic areas should be wearing high-visibility clothing and appropriate footwear. It’s also helpful to have spare gear available for visitors to use.
Clear pedestrian crossings: If passing through a vehicle work area is required by a pedestrian, a crossing should be used to manage the risk. Along with road markings, these can include gates, traffic lights, barriers or rails.
Safe parking areas: When adding in parking areas for staff and visitors, these should be away from high-traffic work areas, have clearly defined pedestrian walkways leading to them protected by wheel stops and be well signposted. Vehicles should also be reversed into spaces, where possible.
Signs and road markings: Consider a first time visitor to your business - would they know where to find the reception, toilets, parking or first aid equipment? Signs can also be used to encourage pedestrians and drivers to use caution, such as speed limits, drop-off zones and vehicle crossings, or to identify hazards. Anti-slip stair nosings can assist on steps that may be tripped on, and safety mirrors can be used on blind corners and areas where forklifts are used.
Well-lit areas: Lighting is key for visibility - vehicle and pedestrians pathways need to be well-lit and too much light variation between areas should be avoided.
Care around reversing vehicles: Reversing should be eliminated where possible by implementing a one-way drive through layout. Alternatively, mirrors, reversing cameras and ‘beepers’, sensors and corner protection can be used, as well as excluding unnecessary staff from the area and ensuring others (including spotters) are wearing high-visibility clothing.
Exclusion zones: These are high-risk sections within the work environment that are restricted to certain personnel. Belts, barriers and fences can be used to differentiate these as a no-go area, and there are also now new generation flexible barriers that remain high-vis so lower repairs and maintenance costs.
Traffic management is an important consideration as part of your overall workplace health and safety plan. To successfully manage the risks and break the cycle of workplace injuries, a combination of the traffic control options outlined above will likely be required.
We have the knowledge and experience needed to offer you a tailored traffic management solution. To discuss your options further, use the button below and we’ll respond within 60 minutes!