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Construction traffic management - risk reduction

According to HSE statistics, incidents involving vehicles on construction sites were one of the top 3 self-reported risks of 2014, with being struck by a moving vehicle accounting for approximately 10% of fatal injuries and over 2% of reported non-fatal injuries over the period of 2010/11 to 2014/15. That’s 21 construction site workers killed in the course of their work, by being struck by a moving vehicle.

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Add to this, the further risk to site visitors and members of the public and the range of vehicles that could be involved, such as cars, vans, lorries, low-loaders, and mobile plant such as excavators, dumpers, lift-trucks and such statistics increase considerably. What makes the situation worse is the fact that many such accidents could be prevented through effective management of construction vehicles and transport operations on site.

Duty of care

All construction site managers and construction company owners have a duty of care to keep employees, visitors and the public safe, yet 67% of construction sector workplaces reported incidences of risk from moving vehicles in 2014 (HSE).

As the duty of care includes responsibility for putting in place effective protocols and reasonable measures to protect individuals on and around sites, it’s helpful to know where to start with risk reduction...

Separate pedestrians and vehicles

Routes should be designated and suitable for each type of user - pedestrian or vehicle. So, walkways should be firm, level and provide a direct route which minimises risk, whilst routes for vehicles should be suitable for the type/ weight of vehicle. All routes should:

  • be free of obstacles - so that no pedestrians or vehicles have to risk accidents by diverting from designated routes.
  • have separate entrances and exits for vehicles and pedestrians.
  • offer clear visibility, especially where vehicle exits onto public highways.
  • have clearly signed and lit crossing points, to protect both pedestrians and vehicle drivers.
  • be clearly designated, including vehicle exclusion zones around pedestrian-heavy areas such as site amenities (WCs, refreshment areas and offices).

To help implement the above actions, high visibility barriers should be installed so that roadways and walkways are clearly delineated, whilst also offering all users an additional level of barrier protection.

To learn more about other construction site health and safety risks, such as working at height and manual handling, visit the SafeSite Facilities Knowledge Base.

Minimise vehicle movement

Moving vehicles are the cause of the problem, so reducing vehicle movement on-site makes sense. Actions to support this include:

  • providing staff, visitor and contractor parking alongside or away from the construction site - not within it.
  • controlling access to work areas.
  • planning the site with designated delivery and storage areas with controlled access at perimeters, eliminating the need for delivery vehicles to cross the site.

To support all of the above actions, high visibility barriers include options for controlling and even prohibiting access.

Minimise vehicle manoeuvres

Reducing vehicle movement on-site also involves minimising any necessity for vehicles to perform turns and reverse manoeuvres. Although it’s not usually possible to eliminate all of these types of manoeuvre, steps to reduce these involve:

  • designing one-way systems for vehicles across phases of site work.
  • including designated areas, such as turning circles, reducing the need to reverse. 

Barriers and signage are useful tools for designating areas such as one-way and turning systems, whilst barriers also offer an additional level of pedestrian protection and high-visibility guidance to drivers carrying out manoeuvres.

Train and inform site workers

Training’s an absolute essential for those operating on-site vehicles (and any necessary machinery and attachments), but training and information should go beyond those regularly designated drivers:

  • Full checks and training should be given to newly recruited drivers / machinery operators.
  • Signallers (those directing vehicle movements) must be trained and authorised.
  • Protocols limiting access to vehicles, to avoid unauthorised operations, should be robust and in place.
  • Changes to routes / routines, for example to accommodate a phase of work, should be communicated to all staff.

Implementing robust systems of induction, refresher training and communication protocols will all support staff safety through knowledge, information and communication.

Maximise visibility

Visibility is extremely important for site safety as it maximises awareness of dangers, and systems in place for protection. As such, improving visibility for everyone - vehicle drivers and pedestrians alike - will support the effectiveness of construction traffic management plans. Actions and aids should include:

  • Driver support: mirrors and CCTV cameras provide visual support, whilst reversing alarms can also support drivers to be aware of movement in blind-spots and awkward spaces.
  • Signallers: supporting movement with signallers is effective, but only if these are fully trained personnel.
  • Lighting: this is particularly important on shared routes and cross-over points, as these enhance pedestrian and driver awareness of each other, particularly in poor weather and after dark.
  • Clothing: pedestrians and visitors should be issued with high-visibility clothing, including reflective strips.

To assist with all of the above actions, using high visibility equipment and clothing, as well as effective lighting which takes into consideration the prevailing seasonal conditions, is recommended.

Use clear signage

Clear signage not only enhances visibility and heightens awareness onsite, it also communicates information and level of risk, particularly at site entrances and exits. Action to make the most of clear signage includes:

  • Use of standard road signs, as required, for example on the public facing side of vehicle exit points, so that the public are familiar with signage and its message.
  • Awareness training and information for drivers, workers and potential visitors (including visuals and instructional content which can be emailed to visitors before they arrive.

To help implement these actions, install high visibility signage and implement a routine of induction training and phase-of-work refresher training to ensure that staff can see, access and act upon the information relayed in construction site signage.

Consider the site and phases of work

Finally, it’s worth remembering it’s not enough to ‘just’ put in place protocols which include the suggestions above. Due to the nature of site work, all risk management measures should be subject to checks, monitoring and review as phases of work progress: from excavations and groundworks, to constructing at height and finishing phases.

As such, the crucial elements which underpin safety at across every different phase are control and planning. Both provide the context for construction site design because of course, the design stage doesn’t only include the phases of construction work (what the workers are doing) but also encompasses designing the safety measures which allow all aspects of work to be carried out in a controlled and risk-minimal way.

This risk reduction guide is offered for advice and guidance only. Further information and industry advice for those involved with construction transport  can be found at the HSE website:

For more information visit safesitefacilities.co.uk

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