Traffic in the workplace can involve either pedestrians, vehicles, or both. The majority of accidents related to work- place transport involve people: being hit or run over by moving vehicles, falling from vehicles, being struck by objects falling from vehicles or being injured as a result of vehicles collapsing or overturning.
Vehicle Arrival and Departure
How vehicles arrive at and depart from the premises must be dealt with. The following questions should be considered.
How are they controlled?
How is information on workplace layout and precautions communicated to visitors?
Anyone entering a site needs to be aware of transport hazards and safety rules. Typical ways this information is given includes: verbal instructions on arrival, site induction, issue of site maps, delivery instructions AND displaying site maps and rules around site.
The vehicles themselves must always be considered. The vehicle selected needs to be capable of completing its tasks (e.g. lifting capacity, size). A vehicle inspection programme, outlining the frequency and specifications of checks, should be devised according to the anticipated risks, e.g. all mechanical, electrical and safety systems with- in the vehicle should be checked in accordance with manufacturer’s or other defined requirements.
A complete maintenance log should always be maintained of all checks. The inspection programme may also need to include statutory checks carried out by a competent person, for example inspections under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).
Travel Routes Within Workplaces
Travel routes are an essential means of controlling workplace traffic. Employers should consider nearby hazards and obstructions and whether travel routes are suitable for the vehicles that use them. The risks from the movement of vehicles around the site need to be assessed and suitable control measures introduced.
Actions of Drivers
Employers should consider whether drivers are using safe working practices when using the vehicles, especially in reversing manoeuvres and when carrying out loading and unloading activities.
When planning and controlling site vehicle operations, the following hierarchy of control measures for reversing operations should be applied.
- Eliminate the need to reverse — introduce one-way systems, designated turning areas, etc.
- Reduce reversing operations — decrease the number of vehicle movements.
- Ensure adequate visibility for drivers — CCTV, mirrors, the use of a trained banksman, etc.
- Follow safe systems of work — allow adequate space for reversing, prohibit pedestrian access to the area, implement signs or physical stops for drivers reaching reversing limit, etc.
Vehicles should be loaded and unloaded on level ground, away from passing traffic, pedestrians and overhead hazards.
They should not be loaded above capacity in terms of weight and dimensions. All loads should be secured to the vehicle and should be distributed as evenly and as close to the centre of gravity as possible.
Activities of Others
Employers need to consider the activities of others. For example, is there a separation between workplace vehicles and others who may be harmed by their activities, such as other employees, visitors or the public?
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require all employers and self-employed people who share a workplace to cooperate in health and safety matters. They must work together to ensure that everyone can comply with their health and safety duties and take all reasonable steps to coordinate the measures they take with those taken by other employers or self-employed people.
It is normal for the site operator (or main employer) to take control of the site, and this person should also take responsibility for coordinating health and safety measures. They will need to hold discussions with other employers, obtain health and safety information from them and seek their agreement to (and ensure their understanding of) site-wide arrangements. However, the senior management of all the organisations concerned remain responsible for ensuring that appropriate risk assessments and controls are in place and that all staff are briefed, irrespective of their individual employer.
Pedestrians must be suitably protected against exposure to moving vehicles in the workplace, as failure to do so can have fatal consequences. The most general consideration is to ensure the adequate separation of pedestrians and vehicles, e.g. by the use of separate walkways and roadways, particularly in enclosed traffic areas such as door- ways, tunnels, gateways and bridges.
Where vehicles and pedestrians have to pass through doorways, it is advised that they are provided with separate entrances, adequately separated from each other by kerbs or barriers.
If physical barriers do not separate different types of traffic, then boundaries must be clearly marked, particularly for areas such as crossings. Areas in which vehicles operate, such as warehouses with fork lift trucks, should have floor markings indicating safe walking zones and passageways to indicate to both driver and pedestrian areas (from which vehicles are prohibited to enable the safe passage of pedestrians).
If pedestrians are working in a traffic handling area, it is important to ensure that their safety is considered. Risk controls such as steps and refuges — to avoid trapping and crushing — and the use of high-visibility clothing to ensure that they are seen are recommended as minimum requirements. In addition, pedestrians can be assisted by the use of flashing lights and audible reversing warnings. Where possible the use of banksmen, i.e. people dedicated to the direction and control of individual vehicles, is also a recommended risk control measure.
Traffic System Layout
When designing traffic system layouts, there are a number of aspects that need to be considered to ensure that traffic flows can be undertaken efficiently, with minimum disturbance and controlled adequately to ensure safe operation.
When identifying the main traffic areas that will present hazards, it is worth considering each type of area and its respective hazards separately. Traffic routes must be sited in such a way as to minimise potential interaction between pedestrians and vehicles. In addition, it is important to consider the effects that traffic noise and exhaust may have on nearby offices or other quieter workplaces. Wherever possible, it is advisable to maintain a reasonable distance between traffic routes with heavier expected use from work areas that may be disturbed by them.
Traffic routes must also be designed to ensure that they take into account the needs of users with disabilities, i.e. those with mobility or sight impairments.
It is important to determine the expected purpose of the traffic route. Under normal circumstances, this may be well known, but routes may sometimes be used in unexpected ways — such as for shortcuts or as temporary loading or storage areas — which may seriously alter the effectiveness of any risk control measures or route layout plans.
In general, it will be sufficient to know whether pedestrians, vehicles or both will use the traffic route. If it is used by both pedestrians and vehicles, it is then necessary to determine if the two are intended to interact
— e.g. during loading and unloading — or if more care is required to separate them. At times of high pedestrian traffic, it may be necessary to prohibit any vehicle movement in particular areas, as it is highly likely that crowds will overflow from footpaths onto roadways.
Construction Design and Management Regulations Traffic Requirements
All sites must be organised in such a way that, SFAIRP, vehicles and pedestrians can move without risk to H&S.
- Traffic routes suitable for persons and vehicles using them
- Vehicles do not present a risk to pedestrians
- Doors or gates on to routes – separated
- Signage to warn of dangers and provide direction
- Suitable and sufficient lighting
Volume of Traffic
An effective traffic system layout should always take into account the expected volume of traffic that the route will need to support, including the normal traffic load and expected periodic variations (e.g. during shift changes or certain times in a process when materials or products need to be moved around the site — times which, although more infrequent, require higher control levels than normal traffic).
Emergency situations should also be considered. For example, in the event of one route being blocked, what effect
If any blind corners exist at crossing points — such as at entrances to buildings or at the ends of passageways that are enclosed on both sides — then warning signs and the use of audible indications (such as horns) must be used to control the risk of traffic collisions. It is important to ensure that pedestrians do not step out into the path of vehicular traffic. To prevent this, a suitable gap of at least one metre should be placed between the entrance or exit and the vehicular traffic route, providing pedestrians with an adequate view to see oncoming traffic. Where this is not possible, a barrier can be used to prevent pedestrians from stepping out directly into the path of traffic.
Wherever any two (or more) traffic routes intersect, there is the potential for collisions or other incidents. Therefore, it is important to design any crossing points to have maximum visibility.
In some areas, the use of mirrors at blind corners can help. Flashing lights on vehicles can also be used in areas of limited visibility or where there are obstructions, such as racking or storage areas.
Where crossing points are necessary, they should be suitably marked and signed, with barriers in place to prevent crossing at dangerous points in the vehicular roadway. If there is particular difficulty providing safe crossing points, alternative means, such as bridges or tunnels, should be implemented.
If any blind corners exist at crossing points, such as at entrances to buildings or at the ends of passageways that are enclosed on both sides, then warning signs and use of audible indications (such as horns) misty be used to control the risk of traffic collisions. It is important to ensure that pedestrians do not step out into the path of vehicular traffic. To prevent this, a suitable gap of at least one metre should be placed between the entrance or exit and the vehicular traffic route, providing pedestrians an adequate view to see oncoming traffic. Where this is not possible, a barrier can be used to prevent pedestrians from stepping directly into the path of traffic.
Areas of High Activity
Areas of high traffic activity, such as loading and unloading areas, must have special consideration given to them, particularly if pedestrians are necessary as part of the operation.
Where pedestrians must work in the same area, the use of high-visibility clothing will assist in their safety. Similarly, the use of audible reversing alarms and of banksmen to direct individual vehicles, particularly if the vehicles are large or carry loads that obstruct the driver’s view, can help to control the risks of collision or injury.
Where vehicles may be turning or reversing, it is important to appreciate the danger to those with mobility impairment. In addition, pedestrians not working in the area will also be at risk to themselves and to the drivers of the vehicles, and should be prohibited.
In areas where it is likely that vehicles will be reversing into bays, it is necessary to make provisions to prevent people being trapped and crushed behind the vehicle, e.g. an alcove or refuge, large enough for the person but small enough to prevent the vehicle coming into contact with them.
Protection of Vulnerable Items
In many premises, there are likely to be items that would cause a significantly high level of danger if they were struck or damaged by vehicles. Examples would include tanks, pressurised cylinders and flammable stores. It is important that, if traffic routes cannot be laid out to avoid these areas, these vulnerable items are adequately protected from impact or steps are taken to mitigate any consequences.
It is worth noting that areas which are vulnerable to impact from vehicles can pose a danger to the vehicles themselves. Areas with unprotected edges or pits should be securely fenced with adequate visible warnings pre- sent. In addition, areas of flooring that are not suitable for vehicles must be fenced off to prevent access, again with suitable signs to warn drivers of the danger. Walls in areas of high fork lift truck activity should also have suitable barriers in place to prevent the fork tips penetrating the wall and causing injury to people on the other side
The general environment in which the traffic is expected to work must also be suitable for safe operations.
There must be adequate lighting for the users of a traffic route enabling them to see clearly where they are going, any obstructions and any potential collisions. Consideration must be given to both lighting levels and glare. Glare can be caused by excessive lighting and the rapid transition between areas of different light levels (e.g. when moving from outside to inside or vice versa) or areas of greatly different contrast (e.g. that between dark corners of a storage facility and windowed areas admitting bright natural light).
Similarly, consideration should be given to the colour of illumination. In most general road driving situations, the altered colour rendition provided by certain light sources such as sodium lighting does not present a significant problem. However, in workplaces where colour coding is used, the distorted colours caused by some light sources can increase risk significantly.
All traffic routes must have adequate ventilation. In the case of vehicular traffic routes, the generation of hazardous vapours and gases, especially from exhaust emissions (e.g. diesel particulates), increases the need for suitable and sufficient ventilation. Even vehicles not driven by internal combustion engines can develop hazardous levels of airborne pollution in certain circumstances, e.g. batteries being charged emitting flammable gases, or vehicles raising dusts.
Suitability of Surfaces and Structural Stability
The surface of the traffic route must be suitable for the type and level of traffic it is intended to carry. The general considerations are that it has suitable wear and slip resistance. In addition, the traffic route must have, and be maintained in such a way as to have no holes, unevenness or inappropriate slopes that will cause a danger to the pedestrians or vehicles using it.
The traffic route must have sufficient structural stability designed into it and maintained to ensure that the traffic using it is not placed at any danger.
Where traffic routes are exposed to the elements, it is important that adequate means for clearing them of snow and ice in winter is pre- pared and readily available when required.
All traffic routes should have sufficient drainage to ensure that they remain clear of any fluid that may be hazardous to the traffic using it. Drainage channels and drains should be positioned in such a way as to ensure the efficient clearance of any liquid — usually by ensuring that the surface slopes towards them.
When considering means of drainage, it is important to ensure that they do not present a hazard of their own, e.g. by being higher than the traffic route surface, or gratings putting pedestrians or vehicles with small wheels (i.e. trolleys) at risk.
The Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 requires all employees to receive suitable information and training relevant to their work. The aim is to ensure that all employees are competent to carry out their duties. In relation to workplace transport, employers should ensure that suitable information and training is provided to all those who are at risk. This will include:
- Identifying all those who require training & designing an appropriate training programme
- Implementing the training programme & monitoring the effectiveness of the training programme
- Keeping records of any training provided.
It is important that training is not seen as a “one off” exercise. The training programme should take account of the output from the monitoring and review of the risk management system, addressing any specific risks identified.
Contract and external vehicle drivers should also be made aware of the general safety rules relating to vehicle movement and speed controls while on the premises, e.g. via the issue of a safety instruction leaflet.
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