Before COVID-19, Victoria’s engineering construction rose by 13.4 per cent to become a $490 million industry. There are also many projects slated for the coming months and years to help lead the state out of the economic crisis the pandemic caused. With the volume of registered vehicles passing the five million mark in 2019, that means there is a lot of construction and a lot of cars that could potentially collide.
These increases in construction and traffic safety are why it is vital to tick every box for traffic management plans (TMPs) at construction sites to ensure all workers, motorists, and pedestrians’ safety.
What is the purpose of a traffic management plan?
Traffic management plans are essential for any works that impact any Victorian road(s), and they need to be approved by your local Council and VicRoads for any jobs on freeways or arterial roadways.
These plans are designed to ensure the safety of all workers, motorists and pedestrians around these constructions projects and cover off a wide variety of factors that have the potential to cause harm.
The cost of not having a traffic management plan
Safety should never be taken for granted, and despite the requirements for TMPs, workers continue to be struck by vehicles. These incidents often lead to fatal consequences.
According to Safe Work Australia data, 62 per cent of all worker fatalities in 2018 were caused by vehicles. There were 24 deaths that year in the construction industry, and vehicle collisions were listed as a leading cause.
On top of this, 62 bystanders were killed in 2018, and 77 per cent of those people were struck by moving vehicles. These statistics highlight the need for TMPs at all job sites and how they need to be extremely thorough and adhered to, so we can prevent more workers and bystanders from unnecessarily losing their lives.
The hazards you might not have considered
On the surface, a TMP might seem like a straightforward process. If you have taken every precaution to ensure that people and vehicles do not occupy the same space simultaneously, some people will think the job is complete. That is only just scratching the surface of what should be in your plan, with many other hazards, factors and environmental considerations needing to be included. Here are some of the factors that need to be included in a comprehensive TMP:
- Design factors: Roads and intersections all have their unique qualities like gradients, visibility, the materials being used to create these surfaces and also the types of vehicles that will use them. A quiet, suburban intersection is not the same as a major intersection on a hill in a school area.
- Signage: You can’t just assume you will have all of the signage you need to keep everyone safe. In many cases, bespoke options will need to be created, including barriers and other safety features.
- Internal policies: When dealing with roads, you must adhere to State and Federal laws regarding speed limits and road rules. But what about the policies and protocols on the job site itself? You will need to set speed limits, overtaking and other road rules, parking for vehicles and machinery and transparent communication so that all workers know their role and can stay safe.
- Human error: As many as 90 per cent of all severe injuries and accidents can be attributed to human error. Your plan needs to take into consideration fatigue prevention and management, suitability of workers for their roles, adequate supervision and protocols to follow in an instance of an emergency.
- Vehicle maintenance: All cars, trucks and machinery involved in the construction process need to be stringently serviced and maintained. All design modifications need to meet all industry standards as well. These points are vital as any vehicle failure can lead to catastrophe.
- Change management: Just because a TMP worked yesterday doesn’t mean it will be as applicable and successful today. Any changes to the construction process mean revisiting the TMP to ensure it covers these alterations. Every time it is updated, the time needs to be documented along with the approver.
The safest journey is the one that is never taken. That is why comprehensive risk assessment needs to be part of your TMP to eliminate unnecessary activities. An example of this could be how many times large vehicles, machinery or equipment need to reverse on a job site. Excessive reversing is an activity that carries more risk and should be reduced as much as possible.
Separation and segregation is another important part of your risk assessment. Light vehicles and large machines should be kept separated as much as possible. This separation is vital when machines and equipment may use the same space as regular traffic, which should only occur when essential.
Some of the risks that need to be assessed as part of any traffic management plan include:
- Areas where pedestrians and vehicles interact
- The floor plan
- Overhead structures
- Traffic volumes (onsite and nearby)
- Blind spots
- Areas of poor visibility
- Types and heights of vehicles
- Loading and unloading areas
- Road surfaces
- Entrances and exits to the job site
- Incident and injury history and records
- Work tasks and;
Once this risk assessment is complete, you can apply controls to substitute or isolate these risks or put measures in place to help prevent them, like training and supervision.
Why you should leave your traffic management plans to the experts
There are many layers to these plans, and not factoring them all in can result in serious safety issues and delays in your construction project if they are not approved.
The Traffic Plans Company has been providing highly detailed traffic management plans for construction and civil construction projects since 2014.
Through our experience, you can achieve compliant plans no matter your project, and our service is available at affordable price points. You can never put a price on human life, though, which is why you should defer to our experts to ensure your construction is completed on time and without any safety issues.