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Traffic management on site
Important statistic: approximately 7 workers die annually as a result of accidents involving vehicles and mobile plant at construction sites. Furthermore, 93 persons sustain serious injuries every year due to such kinds of accidents.
As per the law, a construction site needs to be well organized to enable safe and efficient movement of vehicles and pedestrians who have to go in and out of the site.
The site routes should be appropriate for use by vehicles and pedestrians. They should be strategically located and should also be large and numerous enough to accommodate the traffic that ply them.
The term ‘vehicles’ as used in this context encompasses cars, vans, lorries, and low-loaders. It also includes construction trucks like lift trucks, site dumpers, and excavators alongside other construction site automobiles.
The point to remember is: construction site incidences and accidents are preventable, you can and should prevent them by ensuring efficient flow of traffic throughout the site.
The major points of consideration in dealing with traffic at a construction site are:
- Keeping pedestrians and vehicles apart
- Minimising vehicle movement
- People on site
- Turning vehicles
- Signs and instructions
Construction site incidents
According to statistics pertaining to construction industry incidents and accidents, approximately ten people lose their lives every year as a result of being knocked down by moving vehicles at a construction site. Aside from this, there are also many other accidents and injuries which take place at construction sites, all of which are preventable.
Construction site accidents occur right from the groundwork level up to the finishing stages. It’s not only the workers and managers who are at risk of site accidents and injuries, visitors to the site and members of the public can as well fall victims to such accidents.
Considering everything, most construction site accidents occur as a result of poor planning and control of traffic.
Keeping pedestrians and vehicles apart
Almost all of construction site accidents occur due to failure to properly separate vehicles and pedestrians.
These kind of accidents can however be largely avoided by placing more attention on planning especially at the planning stage. They can also further be avoided by controlling the movement of vehicles during the construction process.
To help keep pedestrians and vehicles away from each other, the actions highlighted below need to be taken:
- Entrances and exits – separate entrance and exit points should be provided for vehicles and pedestrians. This will ensure that both steer clear of the other’s path and help minimise accidents.
- Walkways – pedestrians should be provided with walkways. These should be well-paved and well-drained and should also ideally take a route with minimal to no meanderings.
- Crossings – a crossing point should be provided at a place where a walkway meets with a roadway. The crossing point should be clearly indicated and well lit. This enables drivers and pedestrians to see each other with ease.
- Visibility – public roads should be clearly visible to drivers as they drive along the footways. The should be able to see the road clearly before advancing forward and reaching it.
- Obstructions – walkways should be free from obstacles and any other thing which may impede the movement of pedestrians. This will do away with the need for pedestrians to use routes which are meant for vehicles.
- Barriers – you should consider creating a barrier between the roadway and the walkway.
Minimising vehicle movement
It is possible to keep vehicle movement around a construction site as minimal as it can be. This can be achieved through careful planning. One of the steps which can be taken to minimise vehicle movement is landscaping. Landscaping reduces the amount of space available for fill by vehicles and also bars vehicle movement.
In order to reduce the number of vehicles at a construction site, you should:
- ensure that car and van parking places for staff and visitors are situated away from the work area.
- Regulate entry into the work area; and
- Organise storage areas in a manner that doesn’t necessitate vehicles to cross the construction site.
People on site
Employers should take measures to ensure that workers are well-suited for and qualified to operate vehicles and machinery as well as attachments at the construction site. They should for example:
- Ascertain one’s competency when recruiting drivers and plant machinery operators or when hiring contractors.
- Conduct company trainings for drivers and plant machinery operators.
- Supervise and direct activities of guest drivers.
People who are tasked with directing traffic flow (signallers) must be qualified and permitted to do so. They are required to have training in traffic management at a construction site.
It is also important to control who gets to handle construction plant vehicles or not. This is because accidents can also occur as a result of vehicles being handled by incompetent and unqualified persons. Vehicles should only be driven under authority from the relevant supervisor. In addition, workers should be informed about the risk involved in handling construction vehicles without skill and qualification.
Ideally, the need to reverse vehicles at the construction site should be done away with. This is because reversal of vehicles has been a significant contributor to fatal accidents at construction sites.
One measure which can be undertaken to reduce the need for vehicle reversals is the introduction of one-way systems. One-way systems are especially effective in reducing the risks of vehicles reversal in storage areas.
Another measure which can be undertaken to eliminate the need for vehicles to be reversed is installation of a turning circle. A turning circle enables vehicles to turn without having to reverse.
Visibility at a construction site should be an important point of concern. This is especially true in a situation where vehicles have to reverse in an area from which pedestrians can’t be exempted.
You need to consider the following:
- Aids for drivers – truck and forklift drivers should be mirrors and CCTV cameras to enable them see movements around vehicles and even across the construction plant. They should also be provided with reversal alarms to warn them in case of anything.
- Signallers – there should be signallers who are well-trained and who can competently direct vehicle and pedestrian movement across the construction site.
- Lighting – the construction site should be properly lit to enable drivers and pedestrians see each other without any difficulty. Additional lighting may be needed after the sun has set and also in situations of bad weather e.g. fog and rain.
- Clothing – pedestrians at the construction site should ideally wear reflective jackets and other clothing in which they can be easily spotted by truck drivers and machinery operators.
Signs and instructions
Ensure that every driver and pedestrian is well informed about the traffic routes at the construction site and also the rules governing traffic movement at the site. Standard road signs should be used where applicable.
Induction training should also be provided for drivers, workers, and visitors. Visitors should also be provided with traffic instructions in advance of their visit.